We have been hearing a lot recently about sex crimes. We have also been hearing calls for the perpetrators of these crimes to be variously, castrated, hanged, kept in prison forever, executed, etc, etc. This is just not rational, it is born out of hatred. They have become an impersonal totem of evil and we can now dance maniacally at the foot of the totem without let or hindrance – or consideration of the facts. It is all too convenient.
Let me now turn to hate crimes. Recently two men were jailed for the murder of Jody Dobrowski. They kicked him to death because he was homosexual. I cannot think of a mainstream world view, interpretive community or belief system that could declare this to be an acceptable act. If there is such a thing as evil, this murder is a paradigm of it. I believe that Jody Dobrowski was a focus of hatred. It was wrong.
Also recently, we have seen the emergence of racial hatred from within our own Union; the assaults, by Scots, upon wearers of “England” shirts. The victims this time were a seven year old boy and a disabled man.
Its easy to forget, but we certainly should not forget, that a young black man, Anthony Walker was beaten to death with a baseball bat in another racist attack.
In the murky world of illegal drug gangs two young girls were tortured, raped and shot. Mary-Ann Leneghan died. One defendant at the trial was reported as saying that there was an atmosphere of evil in the room that night.
And now a question for you. To which of the above do you think the Judge, in passing sentence, applied these words:
The crime of which you have been convicted is so bad that one has to put stern restraint upon one's self to prevent one's self from describing, in language which I would rather not use, the sentiments which must rise to every person who has heard the details…People who can do these things must be dead to all sense of shame, and one cannot hope to produce any effect upon them. It is the worst case I have ever tried
I shall, under such circumstances, be expected to pass the severest sentence that the law allows. In my judgment it is totally inadequate for such a case as this.
A trick question I am afraid. It is the judge in the second Oscar Wilde trial which took place over 100 years ago. His crime? – “Gross Indecency” with a male prostitute. For this crime, Wilde lost everything – his home, his family (he was denied access to his children and never saw them again) and his desire to create. Prison broke him. That is all it did. It did not stop him from being homosexual. (It is worth recalling that today, Mark Oaten MP was found to be doing exactly the same thing, but is now to all intents and purposes, rehabilitated in the eyes of the general public, or at least the BBC.)
But this article is not about homosexuality, it is about hate. The same people who hounded Wilde to death, who destroyed his life and who cheered at the verdict – they are no different to those who today want a blanket moratorium on mercy for sex offenders.
I am not talking here about murderers, rapists and torturers who prey on young boys and girls. I want to make that plain. They deserve the full weight of the law. But consider the situation of someone who may have had a fumbled sexual encounter with a fourteen year-old boy and is now in prison for longer than a murderer. Would it, I wonder, be ok for a few of us to get together and kick the shit out of him when he gets out of jail? Will you join in? I hope not.
In condemning such an individual, in screaming for castration and torture (which some are) are we not guilty of the same sort of hatred and lack of humanity that killed the victims I cited?
Neither you nor I can allow our souls to be degraded by allowing our own less attractive instincts to find a convenient scapegoat, whether it is those of other races, sexes, attitudes or whatever the latest media kicking post is.
We can do better than that.