Tuesday, June 04, 2013


One of the nice things about a private blog is that you do not need to worry about what your audience thinks because the blog is not for them.  A nice record of views and state of mind over time.  Although I rarely share anything really personal on the blog I think looking back it is a fair reflection of me.

Having views is of course important.  But equally important is to be able to at least back up ones views.  It matters not that it is right or wrong (who am I to judge) but that a view expressed has been at least tested in one's own mind.  Otherwise it is nothing more than a random selection of a position which is not much better than using a magic 8 ball (can you still buy them?).

I hear there is a protest coming in London.  The protest is going to be carried out by 'veterans' (ex forces I assume) who will be protesting in favour of the death penalty for people who kill soldiers.  Its going to be a riot!  Literally.  It is an open and admitted reaction to the murder of the soldier by those two nut cases a week or so ago.  And nut bags they are.  Period.

There are numerous reasons why I think this is a bad idea.

The first is that although the protest is about 'death penalty for people who kill soldiers' it is clear that in this instance they do not mean 'apart from the two nut bags who just killed a soldier'.  There are some clear issues with this.  The first and obvious one is that the two in question are muslims.  So why now and why these two?  Is this a set of veterans who have reached the end of their tether on solider murders?  I doubt it.  I suspect there are lots of soldiers murdered over the years both intentionally as their role as soldier and of course just people murdered who happened to be soldiers (spouses etc).
So there is a consistency issue here. Who should be put to death?  And this is the crux in my mind.  The clear cut single incident that has occurred cannot be easily put into generality.  In justice there is no black and white.

Let's explore this problem.  Why soldiers specifically?  Because their role puts them at higher risk than other people?  The stats I suspect do not support this.  The numbers of soldiers murdered off duty in this way I suspect are few and far between.  But if it is their role we should therefore include any role in society who are murdered because of their role who are at greater risk.  So we need to include the police force, MPs and Lords, Cabinet Ministers, permanent secretaries.  Then we have MI5 and MI6.  Clearly ambulance men and women and fireman who are regularly targeted by criminals (for drugs for example).

Secondly does it have to be murder?  What about attempted murder?  If you paralyse a soldier for the rest of his life ruining it and leaving him/her in a vegetative state should the punishment be death?  Many soldiers may consider such existence worse than death.

But then we need to look at the mode of murder.  If I stab a soldier I should be put to death but if I bomb the MOD killing soldiers and civilians alike do I get put to death?  What if I bomb the MOD only killing the civilian staff but not any soldiers?  What then?  Are those people's lives less worthy as they work with soldiers who are targeted?

Finally, the real issue of course is one I have covered many times.  The issue of infallibility of the process.  The justice system is fallible.  Mistakes happen and now, when they do, the state can apologise and compensate.  But you cannot compensate the dead.  Yes, it is clear cut with the two killers.  They have witnesses seeing them do it and there is no denial.  But have they been brain washed or do we say that these are clear thinking men.  Are they mentally ill?  Possibly.  What right minded person carries out such brutal acts.

Maybe they do deserve the death penalty.  But deserving such a fate in theory is a long way from being able to put in place a fully capable justice system that does not muck up.  Having met many lawyers now and seen the issues of access to justice and the mistakes made I can honestly say that it scares me that my fate (life or death) may one day be in the hands of some of the lawyers I have met.

So protest away, but be warned, the BNP, English Defence league, the anti-fascists will all be there kidnapping your cause and drowning out your message.  You are handing two lunatics credibility as terrorists, you are providing publicity for people who should be made to disappear for the rest of their lives into insignificance where they belong.  Don't give these people another 15 minutes of fame.


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