Wednesday, 7 January 2015

If you tolerate this…

I still don’t really know who Ched Evans is. Yeah, yeah, footie player, rapist, done time, out on licence… whatever. Convicted of a crime about which, as a man, I am not allowed an opinion in much the same way I doubt I’d entertain a women telling me about romantic fiction. War novels! I meant war… and crime and gore and all that. That’s what I meant. But I digress.

It seem there are British people protesting against scheduled executions in Pakistan because although the convicted have committed kidnap, rape and murder, those crimes are not explicitly included in the definition of terrorism, the crime for which they have been found guilty. Not terrorism? Try telling that to their victims – oh, you can’t because they are dead. Well the same type of people trying to get rapists and murders not killed are trying to get a British rapist crucified; it appears that justice is not adequately served by the legal system as the shriekers hop aboard the Chedwagon and bay for blood.

Like I say, I have no opinion, either way, on the Evans case; he meant and means nothing to me. But what should mean something to us all is whether we have a system of deterrent, punishment and rehabilitation to adequately contain our baser urges to take justice into our own hands. Do the courts decide a punishment or do we let social media do it? Judging by some of the more outlandish reactions to Katie Hopkins’ forthright utterings, there are some who wish her actual harm and I would go so far as to bet that many of the same people denouncing Evans would openly wish rape on Hopkins. I dare you to disagree.

There are always further consequences of crime and punishment, the more so for the famous. A perverse backlash of our celebrity culture is that we seem to enjoy knocking people off the pedestal even more than we enjoyed putting them up there; guilt, maybe? But it’s just the same as the free speech argument that goes around and around and around. You know the one: “You are free to say what you like… as long as I approve it.” Dissent is also free, of course, but it has to be the right kind of dissent.

Since the ill-judged Mark Pritchard case was dropped yesterday there has been a call for “greater fairness” and anonymity for those accused of sex crimes. As Evil Dad (@evildadatron) said on Twitter “You suck three homeless men off in a McDonald's parking lot and suddenly it's all people remember about you.”  If justice is supposed to be blind it does seem rather unfair that she’s allowed to take a beady-eyed peek under her blindfold at the accused before any evidence is heard.

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