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Why @guidofawkes is so out of line over his e-petition to restore the Death Penalty in the UK

My blood has boiled and cooled and boiled and cooled on this topic several times over the past few days. First of all when it got the attention it first did I was not amused as the death penalty is barbaric and is essentially state sanctioned murder and that is never a good thing. However I cooled down a bit.

Then I saw a few Lib Dems saying that they agreed with the death penalty on the latest House of Twits Vote looking at the numbers as it currently stands 27 people (and two Lib Dems) support the death penalty whereas 344 are against it. Well done twitter for being sane and as for the two Lib Dems who voted for the death penalty I wonder whether they understand what true liberalism is.

To be a liberal you believe in equality and equal and human rights. Not being controversial here but I’m relatively sure that human rights and state sanctioned murder don’t exactly fit ideologically with one another. Liberals and Liberal Democrats can have a wide range of ideas and thoughts but to not be a basic liberal and not have core liberal values and yet proport to be a Lib Dem is to me whack. Anyway that pissed me off but I cooled down a bit.

Then came the report in The Sun telling us that three MPs are backing this cause. You can read the story here but all three are Tory MPs from Philip Davies to Priti Patel to Andrew Turner.

Now I’ve had no direct conversation with any of these three although Andrew Turner was my MP for a couple of years before I left the Isle of Wight for good in 2004. I used to live less than two minutes from his constituency office and I know he’s a bit nuts and stuck in the past but heck so is most of the Isle of Wight. I still think it’s pretty impressive the Lib Dems took the Isle of Wight in 1997 but after a pretty poor term in office for Dr. Peter Brand he lost in 2001 and the Isle of Wight is sunk for the party for the foreseeable future. It is now a Tory stronghold until something dramatic happens. Anyway three MPs backing this crazy cause pissed me right off but I was able to cool down a bit.

I was cooling down until I read that Guido on twitter said that murder in this country had gone up since the death penalty was abolished. True enough but he was hinting there was a correlation in the two. He failed to observe that the murder rate had gone up in the rest of the world too and in the states in the United States of America that had reintroduced the death sentence then their rate of murder growth was similar to that of other states that did not have the death penalty. So there is seemingly no correlation between the two and having the death penalty does not make someone think twice about killing someone. So it was a great use of a piece of data without it actually meaning jack shit. That pissed me off but the F1 was and it was raining so I cooled down a bit.
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I was cool about this thinking that this wouldn’t get through but then my blood raised a bit when I read yesterday that the death penalty is something that we cannot insert into British Law unless we recede from the European Human Rights Act. The UK along with most member states of the EU signed up to Protocol 13 of the European Human Rights Act and article one of protocol 13 stats the following clear as day:

The death penalty shall be abolished. No one shall be condemned to such penalty or executed.

So it seems that if we were to reintroduce the death penalty we would have to either pull out of the ECHR or would have to wriggle our way out of Protocol 13 and Protocol 6 which was is the same as Protocol 13 but does include wriggle room for the death penalty in times of war. Protocol 13 closed this loophole.

So pulling out of the ECHR is not something I’m terribly keen on. Nor is it something the public themselves should be terribly keen on. I know many people think that prisoners have it lightly (and I do to some extent as well) but they deserve basic Human Rights. Remember that many people convicted in this country are actually innocent of their crimes so taking away the rights of innocent people isn’t something we should ever aspire to.

So yeah that pissed me off and I cooled down a bit as my attention was taken away by Gordon Ramsay and a new series of Hell’s Kitchen USA but then whilst reading Guido’s original e-petition again my blood went and I felt compelled to write a lengthy blog post and rant about the shit that he is shovelling. I did have to calm down a bit first so I tidied up my apartment as someone is coming to syay on Thursday and the spare time is basically my junk room – anyway that’s by the by and no-one cares about that.

Guido’s e-petition says the following:

We petition the government to review all treaties and international commitments which may inhibit the ability of Parliament to restore capital punishment. Following this review, the Ministry of Justice should map out the necessary legislative steps which will be required to restore the death penalty for the murder of children and police officers when killed in the line of duty.

Can anyone see what would make my blood boil so much in that e-petition?

I’ll make it clearer:

We petition the government to review all treaties and international commitments which may inhibit the ability of Parliament to restore capital punishment. Following this review, the Ministry of Justice should map out the necessary legislative steps which will be required to restore the death penalty for the murder of children and police officers when killed in the line of duty.

Yes. Guido and all the signatures that he is amassing for this e-petition are basically saying that murder isn’t just murder and that some people’s lives are worth more than others. That to me is one of the most abhorrent things that I have ever read. I don’t give a stuff about people’s political persuasions but I do think that most of us unless we are evil, racist, sexist, moronic believe in the basic principle that all human life is equal. To say that is isn’t to me makes you out to be not only a sick person but also one that believes in inequality. The world isn’t perfect but if we put to the people of this country that policemen are more valuable and important to society than teachers, doctors, nurses, cleaners, SEO consultants then we are portraying a myth that we are all born equal.

Also by backing this e-petition then you are saying quite firmly that ‘murder is not just murder’ and there are murders of varying degrees. Now two and a half months ago Ken Clarke got into all sorts of hot water over saying that ‘rape is not just rape’ and saying there were varying degrees of crime that all fall under the rape shield. There was uproar not only on twitter but also in the newspapers and in the pubs. To say that there are varying degrees of crime was heresy but when it comes to murder – which in all honesty is just as bad of a crime at least – then people are fine with saying the murder of policeman and children is worse than killing any other human being.

C’mon folks that is horse expletive of the highest order. Now if you want to have a debate about the reintroduction of the death penalty then that is fine and due process should take place. I have no problems with that although I would be about as against it ever becoming law as I could be but the debate is fair and legitimate. However if you want to say that some people are more important and more valuable and worthwhile as human beings – which is what you are doing if you say the murder of children and police officers killed in the line of duty should be rated as a worse crime than any other murder then I think you have some serious issues and should look at yourself long and hard in the mirror.

We all came into this world kicking and screaming our little heads off and there is no reason whatsoever to ever believe that one human is more important than the next. Every single one of us has a mother and a father and to say to a mother and father that their son or daughter is worth less than the son or daughter of another couple is the biggest type of wrong imaginable.

So I urge you all not to sign the petition that Guido Fawkes has put forward as written. If you do then you are saying loud and proud that not all human beings are the same and do you really want to say that? Do you really think that some people are worth more than others?

I’m pretty positive that you don’t.

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19 Comments

  1. Perhaps, the answer is parody.

    The creation of a petition demanding that IF the death penalty is reintroduced, broadcasts of excutions should be made available on Sky via Pay-per-View.

    I recall a certain Jonathan Swift effecting policy with parody, via the publication in Parliament of a certain pamphlet proposing that the famine in Ireland could be transformed into a boon by recycling the dead baby victims from it as a food product. It was tasteless, but so is famine. Swift made his point and policy was changed.

    Just as the death penalty is tasteless. There are those that want it to happen, but in a dark corner out of sight…because they realise it’s tasteless. They want people to hang, but at the same time have clean hands and not be put off their breakfast.

    Demand that if it happens, it be done in the open. That will soon put people off the whole idea.

  2. I just want to add, I’m completely against the priciple of this petition thing. It means that in theory, a hyndred thousand people and some change, could bring forth changes in law that would effect my lufe and the lives of the over 50 million other people in this country who may not want it. Where is our voice in this petition? Is that the way of it now, that we are to be dictated to by the minority?

    If the government really wanted to give everyone a voice, they should have made it e-polls, where poeple could vote…both for and against, not petitions where only those ‘for’ a change are given a say. It’s the most undemocratic thing I’ve ever heard. We are now in the ridiculous situation where people now have to create counter petitions to try and negate other petitions.

    And that considered, how would that work anyway? I see Pail Parkinson upthread is planning his own counter petition…so what would the committee do…will they take the sugnatures from Paul’s petition and then subtract them from the death penalty petition? OR, would they say something like…”Well, now we have TWO death penalty petitions of over a hundred thousand each, so this means the death penalty really must now be debated in parliament”? In other words, we could face the irony of a second petition might force a parliamentary debate where the other alone might not have been enough to do so, that the very act of trying to stop something made it happen.

    There’s a difference between democracy and everything being decided by the mob. This whole petition thing is a terrible idea.

  3. I have to agree with Neil Monnery’s position in this debate. I am against the death penalty for a range of reasons, good ones I believe, but this petition has the double whammy of arbitrarilly calling for a declaration of some lives have more value than others and this should be enshrined in law. It isn’t even simply that it rates a policeman’s life of more value than another life, but many other lives combined. For example, under this proposal somebody that kills a single policeman would be executed. yet, someone who blows up a building with 1000 people inside would not…unless of course, there also happened to be a policeman or two in the building. So, in effect, that one policeman’s life is legally considered to be of more value than the lives of a thousand people. What happened to the long held principle of ‘All men are equal under the law’? Is that then, to be flushed down the toilet?

    I don’t buy the argument that that it should apply because he ‘symbolises’ law and order. First of all, people should never be executed because they’ve offended a ‘symbol’, for ideology which is what this amounts to. Secondly, it’s self-contradicting on it’s own merit. What greater symbol of ‘law and order’ is there then a high court judge or the Houses of Parliament? Yet, were one to murder a judge or blow up the legislature with everyone inside, one wouldn’t face the death penalty, but would for killing a policeman. And what about High Treason, one of the greatest offences that can be caused against a country’s law and order, high treason whereby one also murders a few people along the way?

    On the matter of the death penalty in general, I see no justification for it in a modern civilised society. It’s a step backwatds, not forwards. It also supposes that people are not free, but are instead property…chatel of the state, that our lives are there for them to take should they choose. It also lays the groundwork for a police state. Where a dictatorship ever to come into power it would be a tool of repression they could abuse. It’s far easier to expand a law that already exists so that it applies to more people and for lesser crimes, than it is to introduce it from scratch.

    Then there is the arguement for the death penalty as a deterrent. It won’t deter people from committing murder, it certainly hasn’t in those other countries that have it and it didn’t when we used to have it. In the 18th century when they used to hang pick pockets, other pick pockets would be working the crowd watching on. Some deterrent! If there is any deterrent, it’s the certainty of being caught. It doesn’t matter a jot how severe your punishment is, if there’s little chance of the perpetrator being caught and successfully prosecuted or they have that perception. Do people imagine that a would-be murderer would suddenly drop his axe because he’s suddenly faced with the death penalty rather then 25 years…”Bugger, I was up for rotting in prison for the rest of my life, but the death penalty…that’s a step too far, I’m out”…and hangs up his axe? Many don’t think about the consequences of their crime when they commit it…the death penalty won’t stop them. Many murder in a rage or panic, the death penalty won’t stop them. Others murder because of religious or political ideaology, they are willing to die for their beliefs, they seek martyrdom….the death penalty won’t stop them. Others do so because they feel they can commit the ‘perfect crime’, it won’t stop them. Others murder because they are insane…the death penalty certainly won’t stop them. This is all despite the fact, many people would actually prefer to die then spend their lives in prison with all the murderers, rapists and thugs.

    Then there is the simple matter of when someone is executed they can’t be brought back to life if it’s found to be a mistake. And what about rehabilitation, compensation, atonement. All opportunity for that is denied by the death penalty.

    But the thing that worries me most about it is that nobody stops to think anout the serious consequences should it be introduced. First of all, Britain is against the death penalty, so as policy, we will not extradite prisoners abroad for trial in countries that have it. Well, should we introduce the death penalty here, then that will change. All British citizens will then not only be living under fear of the death penalty here, but being extradited to face it in other countries…countries that may have it not only for murdering a child or policeman, but anyone and not just for murder. There are countries that will kill you for adultery or homosexuality. Gone abroad on holiday one summer, had an adulterous fling with another man or woman? Oops. Had a gay trist while somewhere on a business trip or vacation?

    But that isn’t even the full consequences. To introduce such a law we’d have to pull out of our European treaties, or out of Europe altogether. They, like us, have a hard policy of not extraditing prisoners to countries that have the death penalty. So, guess what will happen? All our murderers will be jumping across the English channel to Europe, or across the Irish Sea or Irish border to Ireland where we wouldn’t be able to get our hands on them and they’d never even have to face trial. And if Scotland and Wales also decide to op-out of introducing the death penalty, which they could in theory since we grant them ever more powers, then our felons wouldn’t even have to get their feet wet to evade justice. So, the upshot would be that the death penalty would undermine justice because many murderers wouldn’t even see a month in a prison cell, let alone the death penalty. And the bad old days of having to flee to the dark shite holes of the world, like South America, would be over…they could go to their villas in France and Italy and live happily ever after.

    A country that introduces the death penalty has a broken and failed system and society. Perhaps our efforts would be better placed working to fix our society, rather then wasting parliamentary time and money introdung a death penalty that will fix nothing, but instead only make the vengeful and bloodthirsty feel a bit better. State murder and vengence is not the answer.

  4. Paul Parkinson Paul Parkinson

    I am usually part of the silent majority but this is one thing I have very strong views on. The reintroduction of the Death Penalty is something I can never agree to, irrespective of the crime and this is for many reasons.

    The simplest one is that it is impossible to release an innocent dead man.

    To that end I have set up a counter-petition to the UK Government titled “Do NOT restore Capital Punishment” which they say will be live on the petitions site in a few days.

    As and when it goes live can I ask all readers on this site who do NOT want it to happen to sign this petition and re-post, blog and otherwise get this message out.

    We, the silent majority, do NOT want people put to death in our name.

  5. I suggest you read my blog post where i clarified my reasons for voting as I did before you use words like ‘illiberal’ and question the right of others to be in the Liberal Democrat Party. Surely doing so is illiberal in itself?

    It also shows a rather obvious personal prejudice toward the person involved which has no place in any political debate. Had you had the decency to read and debate the points, rather than succumbing to a knee jerk reaction, you may have disagreed yet respected the others’ opinion.

    Having said that, when you resort to calling said individual ‘the cabal of evil’ rather than being mature enough to debate the points and t least try ti understand, it is hardly surprising you have done what you have.

    Until you can accept that true liberalism is a willingness to be open to, and understand all opinions, regardless of how much they offend you, you will neber understand liberalism itself.

    I find that the truly saddest part in all of this.

  6. S S

    Oh dear, copying pasting and not proof-reading. Two of those ‘nothing’s should be ‘something’s; I’ll leave the reader to work out which.

  7. S S

    At some point if you are backing the e-petition you have to believe that people are not all equal.

    No. If I am backing the differential sentencing (the e-petition is irrelevant, as it calls for the death penalty, and all I am talking about is differential sentencing) then I believe that the uniform should mean something.

    You believe the uniform should mean nothing.

    I believe the uniform should mean nothing.

    You believe the uniform should mean nothing.

    I believe the uniform should mean nothing.

    That is the circle we keep going around. That is the disagreement. It is not over how much the life is worth; it is over how much the uniform is worth.

    You can tell this, because if it were over how much the life was worth, then surely the police officer’s life would be worth the same whether they were killed on or off duty? But no, the differential sentencing only applies when on duty. So logically it cannot be the life that’s worth more, can it? Because it’s the same life, on or off duty. So what makes the crime worth must logically not be the life — which is the same whether in or out of uniform — but the duty.

    There is no other logical option, is there? Given that the differential sentencing specifies a police officer on duty then logically you cannot claim it’s the police officer’s life which is worth more because that same life, if taken when not on duty, would be worth exactly the same as anybody else’s. How can a life change in worth depending on whether the person is on or off duty? It can’t. So the offence whihc makes it extra-bad must be the offence against the duty.

    So, simply understand this: the disagreement is not over whether some lives are worth more than others; it is over whether the uniform is worth anything.

  8. S S

    No, forget the death penalty: this is not about the death penalty. It’s about differential sentencing based on who the victim was. This would be just as much of an issue if the death penalty wasn’t involved and the point of debate was a mandatory thirty-five year tariff for murder of a police officer on duty. You’ve accepted that, so don’t confuse the issue by bringing in the death penalty. You don’t know my views on the death penalty, and anyway they are irrelevant to this discussion about statutory differential sentencing.

    You started this discussion, remember, by publishing an article which was mainly about your objection to differential sentencing and only tangentially about the death penalty. It’s that point I am taking issue with. For all you know, I might be totally opposed to the death penalty. All that matters here and now is that I do not think that differential sentencing (which might be the death penalty or might be a minimum tariff, or whatever) for murder based on the victim being a police officer (you’ve already conceded the case for a child, I think?) necessarily means you are considering some lives to be more valuable than others. That is the only and sole point at issue.

    Now, to respond:

    A judge should have a lot of leeway to go both softer and harder on crimes depending on all extenuating circumstances.

    In the case of murder a judge does not have much leeway: the life sentence is mandatory. They can set tariff, but that’s it. You can claim that this means the judge’s leeway should not be further eroded, but you certainly can’t claim that a judge’s absolute discretion is some kind of principle upheld in our justice system; a judge’s discretion is already quite circumscribed, so the principle and precedent is there. Mandating certain sentencing ranges based on factors of a crime other than the end result (and working both ways, such as the voluntary manslaughter defences to murder) is an established principle of the system.

    I think you misunderstand the flag analogy. The issue isn’t that defacing (I never said burning) a flag might offend or incite violence, but that the act itself shows contempt of the state and that we might, if we think that showing contempt for the state is a blameworthy act quite apart from any damage or offence caused wish to punish that contempt.

    I doubt we will ever agree, but all I want you to see is that mandating a minimum sentence for the killing of a police officer does not, necessarily mean that the lives of police officers are valued more than other lives. It can also proceed from a premise that the killing of a police officer, as well as being a murder, is also an act of contempt for law and order.

    If you kill a person, you kill a person: yes. But not all killing of a person, not even all deliberate killing of a person, is murder. So already we see that it’s not as simple as ‘you kill a person, you are guilty of murder’. you might be guilty of involuntary or voluntary homicide, or murder, and the judge doesn’t have discretion to use the full range of sentences regardless of which you are found guilty of: their discretion is circumscribed by statute. So the idea that a judge’s sentence for deliberate killing can be determined by statute according to the features of the crime is already present in the system. And as mentioned, some of those defences do depend on the identity of the victim; so again, this is not a novel idea, and neither does it mean that lives are being treated an not of equal worth (unless you would contend that the existence of the infanticide defence means that the lives of under-ones are treated as less valuable than the lives of those who are older?).

    And you already admit that it’s not that simple: that not all acts of killing are equal. You admit that because you say that the judge can make distinctions between them. The judge can set a tariff; presumably, if we had the death penalty, a judge could decide whether or not to impose it.

    So I suppose the next question is: is what you have a problem with the mere idea of the perpetrator’s contempt for the idea of law and order being an aggravating factor when it comes to sentencing, or is it the setting of it on a statutory footing?

    If the latter, it’s not in principle any different to any of the other ways in which the justice system distinguishes between different crimes, such as the different types of GBH or the different types of homicide. So if that’s your objection you have to explain why our system is wrong and shouldn’t have, say, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter and murder, but simply one offence of ‘homicide’ and leave the judge to decide the sentence from the full range.

    If the former, then you should at least admit that the argument is not about giving different values to different lives; rather, it is about whether any value at all is given to the fact of the murderer of the police officer’s having shown their contempt for the embodiment of law and order.

    It’s not, in other words, that a police officer’s life is worth more; it’s that a police officer’s life is worth exactly the same as anyone else’s, but that on top of that the police officer’s uniform (I’m speaking metaphorically here, obviously, with regards to plain-clothes officers) is also worth something. So imposing a higher sentence on the killer of a police officer is recognising that the crime is greater than an ordinary murder because they have not only taken a life but also offended against the uniform. And that’s why the tariff would be higher: not because the officer’s life is worth more, but because the uniform is worth something.

    • admin admin

      I doubt we will ever agree, but all I want you to see is that mandating a minimum sentence for the killing of a police officer does not, necessarily mean that the lives of police officers are valued more than other lives. It can also proceed from a premise that the killing of a police officer, as well as being a murder, is also an act of contempt for law and order.

      See that is just where we disagree. Example:

      A bank job is going down and the armed robbers are getting twitchy. If a have-a-go hero tries to stop them then why should that be treated any differently than if a police officer on the scene was trying to stop them. I do not think for one moment that most murders of police officers are so cold blooded that if that person was not a copper then they wouldn’t kill them. Yes of course there are criminals who see it as a badge of honour to kill a cop but I suspect most would be killed whoever they were. Murders usually fall under one of two hats – wrong place, wrong time and killed by someone you know for whatever reason either in the heat of the moment or in cold blood. I personally would not like a distinction in terms of what is available to the judge to change.

      I do not see the murder of a police officer to automatically be a contempt of law & order. All crimes are contempt of law & order. That is a pretty basic premise and one where we undoubtedly agree. However you want to go so far as to say that there should be even an added contempt in the murder of a police officer, which (to me anyway) states that you are saying that that extra contempt for the law is deserving of more punishment. This is where we cannot agree because by saying this you are saying that the extra contempt shown because of who is killed is deserving of the possibility of extra punishment.

      So I suppose the next question is: is what you have a problem with the mere idea of the perpetrator’s contempt for the idea of law and order being an aggravating factor when it comes to sentencing, or is it the setting of it on a statutory footing?

      See again. Any crime is a contempt of law & order so why does the murder of certain adults be classed as a bigger contempt for law & order?

      So imposing a higher sentence on the killer of a police officer is recognising that the crime is greater than an ordinary murder because they have not only taken a life but also offended against the uniform.

      Police officers in the main are good people doing an important job. So are other people in plenty of other professions. Do you want to add all armed service personnel to this list? The uniform should mean nothing in this case and that is my point. At some point if you are backing the e-petition you have to believe that people are not all equal. Having a minimum tariff for one murder but not another of a different adult is not right and nor is it fair and balanced.

      As I’ve stated you could make a far better argument for changing tariffs for crimes against children (although I too would be against this) but it would be a fairer more balanced debate because this e-petition as it stands (even without the death penalty) is saying that some people in some way should be treated differently to others just because of their job and that isn’t equality in my book.

      I think we’ve exhausted this and should probably agree to disagree on this one. Good discussion though. I enjoyed it.

  9. S S

    Well, as you’ve conceded the debate is legitimate when it comes to children, that means this isn’t a complete waste of time — how refreshingly unlike almost all of the internet!

    So let’s consider the other case. Why do you think that all that matters about a crime is the ‘end’? Our justice system doesn’t think that all that matters about a crime is the ‘end’, or factors such as the perpetrator’s state of mind, their previous character whether good or bad, any remorse shown or not shown, or even whether there was intent, would not matter.

    After all, already the freedom of judges is circumscribed according to factors other than the ‘end’ of a crime: two people may have both deliberately caused the death of another human being (the same ‘end’), but one has a defence which makes the crime voluntary manslaughter (some of which depend on the victim, such as infanticide), and the other does not. The judge in the latter’s case has no option but to pass a life sentence, whereas the judge in the case of the former has a greater range of options.

    If you want to claim that it is only the ‘end’ of a crime that matters, then the onus is on your to show why our current system is misconceived in this respect and how it should be restructured.

    Would you argue that a law that mandated a particular sentence for the crime of defacing a Union flag was ‘inherently unfair’ to other pieces of cloth by sayng that not all cloth was equal, or do you see that such an act could reasonably be held to be (even if you yourself do not hold it to be) an act in contempt of the state, and therefore an extra offence on top of the mere criminal damage of destroying the physical object of the cloth?

    And therefore do you not see that the killing of someone in a police uniform could reasonably be held to be (even if you yourself do not hold it to be) an act in contempt of the states’s function of enforcing law and order, and therefore an extra offence over and above the mere killing of the person inside the uniform?

    The fact that one can be locked up for contempt of such things as the courts and Parliament, whether or not one has committed any other offence, is surely today not one that anyone is unaware of! So again if you wish to claim that contempt of an idea is not a crime, which can either carry its own sentence or cause the sentence of another offence to be statutorily increased in the same way that intent causes a statutory increase in the minimum sentence for GBH, the onus is on you to prove it.

    • admin admin

      I think that the end game of any crime is important because if the statute makes deviations between crimes based not on the crime itself but of the person the crime was on then I think we are walking down a very dangerous path. I think it is the role of the judges to decide on each individual case and not the statute to decide what crimes of the same ilk should be classified as. A judge should have a lot of leeway to go both softer and harder on crimes depending on all extenuating circumstances. Ken Clarke said this and was basically told he was the biggest idiot in the world and deserved to be sacked, which was a very sad state of affairs.

      If you are going to bring back the death penalty then it has to be for murder – end of and not murder of only certain people. Bringing back the death penalty as I pointed out in my original blog would be a disgrace and would contravene the ECHR that we are already signed up to through Protocols 6 and 13. So the death penalty is not coming back unless we pull out of the ECHR which I know some people would love to do but it would be a huge backwards step for this country.

      The onus is not on me (or anyone else who agrees with my PoV) at all. The onus is on the people who want the change to come about. The onus is on the pro death penalty lobby to show the electorate and MPs why bringing it back and seceding from the ECHR is a good and positive move for this country. If that lobby can prove their case to enough people then things may change although the likelihood of the death penalty ever returning in the UK is in all honesty (and thankfully) minimal.

      A law that makes defacing a flag unfair to another cloth is clearly not unfair to the cloth but it is still an unfair act in my opinion. I can understand why people get all up tight over it and I have no issues with those that do. We all have different ideals and thoughts. I think anyone who burns a flag should be arrested and charged with being a first-class numpty but that is obviously not right but whilst it is criminal damage – the perception of burning a flag in itself is more than that because of the way a significant proportion of people feel about a flag. So whilst it is criminal damage it is also inciting violence. Whereas burning of a quilt would only be criminal damage as there is little chance of a quilt being burnt inciting violence because of the nature of the criminal act.

      I still though cannot see that the killing of a police officer in uniform in the line of duty can reasonably be held to a different standard of any other murder. All murder is an act of contempt against the state’s function of law and order so just because it is a murder of a police officer doesn’t change that. You think that the murder of a police officer in the line of duty shows extra contempt to the laws of the land whereas I don’t. If you kill a person you kill a person. It shouldn’t matter who you kill because the crime is the same at the end of the day and that is where we differ and I’m guessing we can never agree.

      Remember though I’m guessing you support the e-petition and the onus is not on the naysayers to prove their point – the onus is on you and people of your ilk to prove that change needs to occur. The onus is always on those who seek change to prove their point (AV for example) and when you prove your point then you will be heard and changes will happen. Until that day though the law is what it is and it will not change on this issue.

  10. S S

    I didn’t loudly say ‘rape is rape’, but even if I had, this argument is logically entirely separate to what may or may not have been said a few months ago.

    So let’s go through…

    Saying one murder is worse than another goes against believing that we are all made equal

    Presumably here you mean making statutory distinctions, because judges do have discretion to hold one murder as worse than another. And presumably you only mean statutory distinctions based on victim, because that’s been your point all through.

    Would you, for instance, be okay with a statutory distinction being made on the basis of some other factor? Let’s take the death penalty out of it because that’s logically not the issue; we’re only really considering statutory distinctions drawn between murders. That the difference is the death sentence is a quantitative, not a qualitative issue.

    So say the proposal was that murders in which a firearm was used were to have a statutory minimum tariff of thirty-five years. Would you object to that, on the grounds that it’s ‘saying one murder is worse than another’? Or is that a reasonable ground on which to draw statutory distinctions between murders?

    So why not everyone else in the line of duty? Is the murder of an ambulance person trying to save a patient on the side of the road not as bad?

    And ambulance driver does not embody the ideals of law and order in the same way that a police office does; I presume that’s obvious?

    It’s the same way in which defacing a flag is not the same as ripping up a random piece of paper. Someone ripping up a piece of cloth might be just as guilty of criminal damage (if the piece of cloth held, say, a valuable artwork) but the person ripping up the flag has additionally shown deliberate contempt of whatever the flag symbolises, and if we value what the flag symbolises we might therefore want to make the destruction of a flag a worse crime in order to show that we think that a person who defaces it has, by their contempt for the value it symbolises, revealed themselves to be a worse person.

    In both cases the act, of ripping a piece of cloth, is identical; just like the killing of a police officer and a paramedic. But the killing of the police officer (on duty, remember — a police officer not on duty is the same as everyone else, thus proving that this isn’t some ontological claim about the value of the life of someone who happens to be in a particular line of work) additionally shows contempt for the very idea of law and order.

    To go back to the first point, all cloth is woven equal; but some cloth can come to embody a value which transcends the particular fibres. So all of us are made equal; but some of us, possibly by putting on a police uniform, can come to embody a value which transcends the particular flesh, blood and bones which fill the uniform.

    So the reason the murder of a police officer might legitimately attract a higher sentence is that the crime thus committed is not only against the victim, but also against the uniform and the concept it symbolises; and if we value that concept, we might think that showing contempt for that concept is a mark of someone who deserves to be punished more harshly for the crime against the victim and the uniform than they would for the crime against the victim alone (as would be the case if they killed the police officer when they were off-duty, when the mandatory death penalty would not apply because then there is not crime against the uniform, only against the victim, who is not any more valuable than any other victim).

    Of course, you might object to increasing the sentence based on the perpetrator showing contempt for concepts; but that’s not the point at issue (you’d be wrong, but I won’t argue it here). however, you must see that that is a different thing to saying that the victim was worth more than any other victim.

    Finally:

    There is more of a case for having higher tariffs against those convicted of crimes against minors and that is far more of a legitimate debate

    So are you here suggesting that there is a legitimate debate to be had about higher tariffs for those convicted of crimes against minors? So you think now that the death penalty for murder of a child (which is after all basically* just a higher tariff for a crime against a minor) is a legitimate subject for debate?

    * because we’re here leaving aside the whole question of whether to have the death penalty at all: the subject at issue is if we had the death penalty, then would it be legitimate to make it a statutory sentence for murders based on certain criteria, and would it be legitimate for some of those criteria to depend on state of the victim at the time.

    • admin admin

      Wowsers.

      Ok lets go through this…

      I have said that judges have the leeway to decide on all sentences but what they do not have is written in front of them that the sentence can be higher or lower depending on who the crime was against. There is no law in this country that gives a judge outright leeway to give a criminal a sentence higher than that of another criminal who has done exactly the same crime. Putting it out there that one crime can be treated differently to another is saying outright that the value of one life is more than another. You say this is not the case but it clearly is. You believe that someone putting on a uniform changes how they should be perceived in the eyes of the law. I cannot agree with this. If a police officer is murdered in cold blood then I see no difference than a checkout operator on their way home from Asda being killed in cold blood. I think all crimes of the same end merit (not a great term I know but you do know what I mean) have the same range of sentences. A judge will then decide on the punishment based on all the external evidence given.

      To say that a murder of a police officer is different because he or she is wearing a police uniform compared to an Asda poloneck to me is horse expletive. The person underneath that uniform is exactly the same. Personbally I do not believe that what you wear encompasses your ideals and who you are. We clearly disagree on this and will not agree.

      As for an ambulance person not holding up the ideals of law and order compared to a police officer. No they don’t but again the same thing applies. You are believing that someone putting on a police uniform elevates them above the rest of us. I happen to believe that all humans are equal and that deep down we should all be held up to the same standard of being law abiding and good citizens. Just because it’s someone’s job to do such a thing shouldn’t make them any different to that rest of us. I don’t see it as a big difference maker. You think that police officers are better than the rest of us – or at least if you don’t think that you do think that when they are doing their job it is a more important job than people doing other jobs. Again I can’t agree with this based on the defining principle of I believe we are all built equal.

      As for all murders involving a handgun having a minimum tariff I couldn’t go along with this as the end result is the same – murder. You can kill someone with a gun, a knife, a rope or anything. The manner of death should not make a crime more or less severe in the eyes of what a judge can give in terms of a sentence. A judge in my opinion should have full license to decide how to sentence every individual based on all the evidence at his or her disposal. Having a one-size fits all sentencing guideline is wrong as every single crime is different. For example is five killings of prostitutes worth less than one police officer? Under these proposals then it would. I do not like a murder of one person should ever mean more than the murder of more than one person. You are again saying in that respect that the value of one persons life is more than the value of another’s.

      Personally speaking if someone burns a flag or a mattress cover it doesn’t make a difference to me. I know it does to many other people and I won’t argue with them on it but from a personal perspective it doesn’t mean much to me. It is just a piece of cloth and whilst some believe it symbolises a lot more and therefore burning it means a lot more. For me that just isn’t the case.

      Finally I’m saying there is a better argument that can be put forward for having different laws involving cases against all minors. I’m not a death penalty guy in any way shape or form but that debate for me would be more legitimate than deciding that all adults are not created equal. A murder is a murder. A judge has so many options available to him or her and that should be the case for every single murder. It is inherently unfair if a judge cannot sentence one murderer like he sentences another.

  11. admin admin

    Yes I can see the distinction between those ideas but I just don’t buy it. Certainly in the case of adults. There is more of a case for having higher tariffs against those convicted of crimes against minors and that is far more of a legitimate debate but to make distinctions between adults to me is whack.

  12. admin admin

    So why not everyone else in the line of duty? Is the murder of an ambulance person trying to save a patient on the side of the road not as bad?

    You can’t simply cherrypick situations and say that murder is worse and have it into law that way. Judges have leeway and rightly so to decide what to do with individual cases but as everyone loudly said a couple of months ago ‘rape is rape’ therefore ‘murder is murder’ and judges should have the same level of tariffs available for every single case and decide the punishment on a case by case basis.

    Saying one murder is worse than another goes against believing that we are all made equal.

  13. S S

    Yes, you are saying that their crime was more heinous, but there are factors affecting the heinousness of a crime other than the worth of the victim.

    Obviously this is a broad-brush approach, as are all statutory definitions that take away judicial discretion — ‘child’ is being used as a proxy for ‘innocent’, basically — but the intent surely is not to say that children are more deserving of life, but that someone who kills a child has shown themselves to be a worse person than someone who kills an adult.

    You can see the distinction between those two ideas, can’t you? Between the crime being more heinous because of the value of the victim on the one hand, and the crime being more heinous because of what it says about the perpetrator on the other?

  14. S S

    (Indeed, the very fact that it’s police officer killed in the line of duty suggests very strongly that the issue isn’t that a police officer’s life is worth more than the life of a member of the public (or surely they would be worth more even when not wearing their uniform?) but that the issue is the transgression against the police as symbolic of law and order: the most serious desecration of that symbol possible, the killing of someone who is actively embodying that idea at the time.)

  15. admin admin

    Judges do take into account circumstances now and not all murders are equal but if you put it into law that the murder of certain individuals is worth more than others then surely you are therefore saying those people are worth more than others?

    You are not saying that the person is viler because they have killed a child or a copper – you are saying that their crime was more heinous.

    I just can’t see how putting it down in black & white that murders of certain sections of society shall be deemed as having a higher tariff on sentencing can be anything other than saying that certain sections of society deserve life more than others and therefore the punishment on the portrayer of the said crime should be higher.

    Killing a copper on duty should not be distinguished with killing a doctor for example. It just makes no sense to single out sections of the population to have crimes on them having higher tariffs.

  16. S S

    if you want to say that some people are more important and more valuable and worthwhile as human beings – which is what you are doing if you say the murder of children and police officers killed in the line of duty should be rated as a worse crime than any other murder

    Only if you take a consequentialist view where the only relevant factor in determining a crime’s seriousness is its results.

    That is not how the courts work. For example, two people may each attack another person and do identical wounds. However, one might have attacked in the heat of passion, and the other with cold premeditation; they can, because of these differences, be given different sentences. There are even different offences of GBH and GBH with intent, where the actus reus is exactly the same: so under a consequentialist reading those surely should be one crime?

    So, saying that the murderer of a child should be punished more harshly than a murderer of an adult is not necessarily saying something about the victim — that the child’s life was more valuable than the adult’s — but it could instead be saying something about the perpetrator, that someone must be a particularly bad person to murder a child. And as our justice system already takes into account, in sentencing, the badness of the person (which is why such things as previous good character are given in mitigation, while evidence of malicious intent and lack of remorse are aggravating factors), it is not such a quantum leap as you seem to think to make the age of the victim such a factor.

    Indeed, I suspect — I don’t have case data to hand, but I suspect — that it already is: someone convicted of the murder of a child is, I suspect, likely to have a higher tariff imposed upon them than someone who murdered (other circumstances being equal) an adult. I may be wrong about that — as I say, I don’t have the cases to hand.

    As for the murder of a police officer, well, in that case the argument would run that by murdering a police officer the criminal is effectively showing contempt of the entire system of laws and justice which underpin our civil society. Again, this goes not to the police officer being worth more than another victim, but to the act of murdering a police officer showing that the criminal is particularly bad and therefore deserving of a harsher sentence.

    And again, I would remind you that our justice system already takes account, when sentencing, not only of the bare fact sof the results of the crime, but also of the perpetrator him- or herself, when sentencing.

    So distinguishing the particular crimes of murdering a child and murdering a police officer does not necessarily mean that you are saying they are worth more, but that someone who kills one of those two groups has shown themselves to be particularly deserving of harsher punishment.

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