Wednesday, 19 February 2014
What a life
Standards, eh? Tricky blighters. Once you let something slide you can bet your life its downward momentum will gather pace until the speed of change becomes frightening. Introduce a policy to not penalise pupils for spelling in history essays and within a few short years not only can nobody spell, they insist it’s no longer important. And punctuation now appears to be an utter free-for-all, the meaning of much writing being gleaned only by sheer guesswork. Come on people![sic]
Everywhere you care to look, standards appear to have slipped. Driving competence, common courtesy, respect for authority, kids calling you ‘mate’, casual work wear, visible and inappropriate tattoos on public figures… the size of Wagon Wheels. It’s all on the fritz and we’re going to hell and if you’re reading this on a smart phone the chances are your ability to focus on any task for more than a few minutes is already severely impaire... Oh look – a squirrel!
And since when was it the policy of the stalwart Daily Telegraph to run a bleeding heart mini-column in contradiction of its own editorial? While millions will applaud the Court of Appeal’s insistence that a whole life tariff must mean what it says, Martha Gill trots out the feeble plea that it’s barbaric. Actually, I tend to agree with her; it is barbaric to expect the British taxpayer to pay for somebody’s welfare – in or out of prison - for life, endless appeals by all sorts of busybodies adding annually to the cost and leaving families feeling not only bereft but cheated of justice. No, we should top the buggers and be done.
Useful, decent people do not end up being sentenced for life. (No, they don’t; stop believing that hippy bullshit.) Yes, yes, rigour in the prosecution process and the highest standards of evidence must be applied, but once somebody has been safely convicted, beyond any doubt, their sentence should be carried out. No amount of rehabilitation will ever absolve the killers of Lee Rigby and none should be allowed to. If their crime does not warrant a whole life sentence (I suspect most people would willingly have them despatched) then Martha Gill’s understanding of barbarism is wholly warped.
The way it is sentences are seen as a joke anyway. Denis ‘McShame’ served a mere six weeks of his supposed six month sentence. Perjurers Vicky Pryce and Chris Huhne similarly served only a fraction of their jail term and all three are out on the streets with careers utterly unharmed, possibly even enhanced by the process. But their cases fade to insignificance against the regular reporting of violent offenders being released only to commit identical crimes within weeks, sometimes days. The rights of people like this cannot begin to compare with the rights of those whose lives they blight.
For some people prison clearly isn’t a deterrent; it’s simply a regular phase of relative calm in otherwise brutal and angry lives, but the ECHR believes they have a human right to reoffend. What about, you have to argue, the trumping human right not to be robbed, beaten, raped or murdered? Parents know – or learn – all too quickly how a lowering of standards leads to abuse. There is no point in threatening a sanction your kids know you’ll never carry out. Once you’ve lost authority it’s gone forever; give an inch and they’ll take a yard. It’s about time we could once again believe that our justice system is fit for purpose.
The Errant Apostrophe - an offence against life itself
But restoring rigour is not the exclusive responsibility of the state; we can all do our bit and standards begin right here at home. So let’s stop the rot. Starting with apostrophes…