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Ken Clarke – a trial by modern social media

Judge: ‘Ladies and Gentleman of the twittersphere have you reached a verdict?’

Twittersphere: ‘Yes your honour – we find the defendant guilty of endangering the lives of women and think he should be out of a position where he can endanger any women post haste’

Judge: ‘Don’t men get raped too?’

Twittersphere: ‘No they don’t. Only women. Ken Clarke is endangering women and deserves to be sacked immediately’

Judge: ‘Just checking if you read the proposals that he is putting forward?’

Twittersphere: ‘Of course we did what do you takes us for? Reactionary morons?”

Judge: ‘So you know that there is already a plea bargaining deal in law where judges can – can not have to – reduce sentences by up to a third in any case with receipt of an early not guilty plea?’

Twittersphere: ‘Plea bargaining wha…?’

Judge: ‘Plea Bargaining. That is what these proposals were all about’

Twittersphere: ‘No it wasn’t. It was all about Ken Clarke thinking rape wasn’t important and how he wants to let rapists out after 15 months’

Judge: ‘Who told you that?’

Twittersphere: ‘That is what Ed Miliband said in PMQs and Margaret Hodge backed up those thoughts on The Daily Politics Show afterwards’

Judge: ‘Ah I see. Well you have to remember that they are both using Clarke’s comments for political point scoring and they might not exactly be 100% on the mark with their comments’

Twittersphere: ‘What do you mean? Politicians never lie and certainly not the Labour ones. They think rape is serious and because of that they must know exactly what they are talking about’

Judge: ‘Everyone thinks rape is serious’

Twittersphere: ‘Ken Clarke doesn’t’

Judge: ‘When did he say that?’

Twittersphere: ‘Yesterday’

Judge: ‘Where did he say that?’

Twittersphere: ‘I’m not sure. I saw it on twitter’

Judge: ‘So everyone on twitter only deals in facts, not opinions or conjecture?’

Twittersphere: ‘Err…’

Judge: ‘Well he never ever said rape wasn’t serious and nor did he say he wanted to let rapists out of jail willy nilly’

Twittersphere: ‘Are you sure? The media seemed to be saying otherwise’

Judge: ‘I’m sure’

Twittersphere: ‘Oh. He must have said something to cause the furoré’

Judge: ‘The whole crux of the issue is he disagreed with BBC Radio 5Live Presenter that Rape is Rape’

Twittersphere: ‘Sack him. How dare he. All rape is as bad as every other rape. Rape in rape. Sack him. How would he like it if he was raped? Sack him. He should resign. Sack him!’

Judge: ‘So you disagree that there is a difference between a 17 year-old and 15 year-old having consensual sex and a masked man bursting into a home and raping an unsuspecting victim?’

Twittersphere: ‘Well I never said that…’

Judge: ‘Well you kinda did actually. Both are classed as rape in law’

Twittersphere: ‘Oh I see. Well he still shouldn’t have said it. Sack him’

Judge: ‘So what are you saying?’

Twittersphere: ‘Isn’t it clear? We think Ken Clarke should resign immediately or be sacked. His comments that all rape isn’t equal is deplorable and people with those thoughts cannot be allowed to govern and put the lives of women in danger’

Judge: ‘So all rape is rape and anyone that even questions this is insane’

Twittersphere: ‘Yes. Finally you are getting it’

Judge: ‘Do you know or did you ever have sex with anyone before you were 16?’

Twittersphere: ‘That is none of your business judge’

Judge: ‘Well did you or do you?’

Twittersphere: ‘Well not me personally but when I was in Year 11 at school I may have known of one or two people who had sex where one of them hadn’t turned 16. Only one or two mind you’

Judge: ‘Do you class the older members of that sexual act as rapists?

Twittersphere: ‘Of course I don’t. You are an idiot judge. How dare you.

Judge: ‘The law does. That is what Ken Clarke was saying albeit in a dumb way’

Twittersphere: Well Ken Clarke is right then. You are the idiot judge. Claiming that when my 15 year-old girlfriend gave me a blow job after a GCSE Maths exam behind the bike sheds makes me a rapist’

Judge: ‘So you are saying Ken Clarke actually was on to something’

Twittersphere: ‘Wait. No. You tricked me’

Judge: ‘I’m just trying to clarify what Ken Clarke was actually trying to say’

Twittersphere: ‘Oh, but he did say that judges will now be ordered to give a 50% discount on all rape sentences if the defendant pleads guilty right?

Judge: ‘No’

Twittersphere: ‘But…’

Judge (interjecting): ‘What he said and what these proposals were set to do was give judges more leeway in every criminal case. The initial interviewer Victoria Derbyshire used rape as it is the most emotive of all cases to illistrate her point and that is where this all stems from. Judges can chose the length of sentence in any criminal case from a set of tariffs. Under these proposals a defendant could in the most extreme circumstances get an extra 17% off their sentences for an early guilty plea. Clearly anyone getting a slightly softer sentence would satisfy any judge that they were full of remorse and there were extreme mitigating circumstances.’

Twittersphere: ‘So all rapists won’t be free in 15 months ready to rape again?’

Judge: ‘No’

Twittersphere: ‘Oh that isn’t what I thought. Can you ask us again what we think of Ken Clarke?’

Judge: ‘Sure. Ladies and Gentlemen of the twittersphere have you reached a verdict?’

Twittersphere: ‘Yes your honour – we find the defendant guilty of endangering the lives of women and think he should be out of a position where he can endanger any women post haste’

(Judge bangs head on desk)

End Scene 1.

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Ken Clarke proves that the British people cannot have a serious debate on rape

This isn’t going to be popular.

Ok let’s get this out there. I have never been raped therefore I don’t know a thing about it and don’t deserve an opinion. If you agree with that stop reading.

And I’ll begin.

Rape is in my opinion the most disgusting crime out there. It is in my opinion worse than murder because the victims will never fully recover and have to live with the consequences. However having said that I do believe that what Ken Clarke has said today is true that rape is not just rape – there are many different levels of every crime. As he said on BBC News late this morning when the presenter really felt he had Ken Clarke dangling that there is a difference between a 16 year-old and a 15 year-old having consensual sex and someone forcing themselves upon someone in a dark alley. Both are classed as rape in law.

The proposals he is putting forward are not just about rape. He is proposing that judges be allowed leeway to halve sentences in any case on receipt of an early guilty plea. The current laws dictate that judges be allowed leeway to reduce sentences of up to a third. Therefore the proposals are about a possible 16-17% reduction in sentences in the most extreme cases. However people should understand that the judges are not forced to do this and as every case is different and judges decide on sentence length for a variety of different reasons.

Ken Clarke did not say that rapists deserve to have their sentences lessened. He did not say that once. However the media have decided to latch on to rape as it is the most emotive crime out there so he was further questioned about it. There is a difference between violent rape and statutory rape in my opinion. I agree with Ken. He did not once say rape wasn’t a serious crime but that is how the media (and the Labour Leader) will spin it.

Ed Miliband just said in Prime Ministers Questions that these proposals and I quote ‘will lead to rapists having their sentences halved’ and that is quite frankly a lie. There is a difference between the words ‘will’ and ‘could’ and it is rather an important distinction.

Sadly I fear that this incident has showed that there are issues that we cannot have a serious debate on. The public are too entrenched in their position on certain things (i.e. any changes to the NHS) and anyone who proposes anything that might rock that boat is evil and clueless. Ken Clarke’s proposals might not be great but they certainly are not what is being reported by the media and what the people of this country are discussing. We already have a plea bargaining deal in the UK but if you were the listen or read the media then you wouldn’t realise that.

Ed Miliband has called for Ken Clarke to be sacked today. You never know he might well be. The thing is though is that if he’s  sacked, it will not be for his proposals but for the way the media have whipped up into a frenzy and reported it in the most sensational way possible. It is kinda sad…

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.