David Thompson
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April 26, 2009

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JuliaM

"Presumably, the Guardian’s Irwin James feels that imprisoned rapists should be allowed to vote along with the rest of the prison population."

Would that be the 'Erwin James' that the Guardian has just been exposed for employing to lie to readers?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1173599/The-Guardians-Prison-Diarist-The-murderer-wrote-lies-got-paid-it.html

David

Julia,

Ah. ‘Tis indeed. Somehow I’d missed that. Bless you, good woman.

James S

"The driver and other drivers like him could hardly conclude from the sentence passed on Tweed that the state was deeply concerned for their safety or well-being. It is unlikely, also, that The Guardian, which passed no comment on the sentence, was deeply concerned either: for are not taxi-drivers as a whole the kind of people who read the Daily Mail and frequently express the most reactionary ideas? They are certainly not a designated oppressed group, and therefore it is not of any great importance that crimes against them are inadequately repressed and thereby prevented. Nevertheless, the logic of pursuing and severely repressing crimes such as that committed by Tweed is exactly the same as that of pursuing and severely repressing rapists."

Isn't that the 'broken windows' idea too –if you punish vandalism and burglary you help deter more serious crime?

David

James,

There’s an interesting piece on the “broken windows” theory here:

http://www.reason.com/news/show/130254.html

I don’t know whether (or how closely) the deterrence of rape is related to the deterrence of other, less grievous crimes. But the indifference that’s often shown towards victims of, say, burglary - and the excuses made for the perpetrators - is corrosive and demoralising. It seems to encourage the idea that insurance is a close-to-adequate solution and one should simply get used to being preyed upon. At a time when “we need to send a message” is a common political phrase, it seems an odd choice of message. As I’ve said before, it would be preferable if the perpetrators were the ones who lived in fear, rather than their victims.

Mary Jackson

Guardian types do make allowances for rapists, but only when excusing a rapist from a different "culture", for example a Muslim "culture". Arranged marriage is often no different from forced marriage, and what is that if not rape.

bgc

Don't forget also the occasional calls to lower the standard of evidence required and waive the assumption of innocence.

David, I seem to recall a British study from a few years back that suggested that elderly victims of burglary tended to die a few years earlier than other old people. Presumably this was due to lowered levels of trust and, perhaps, their being forced into nursing homes due to increased feeelings of insecurity as well as the actual trauma. Having watched one case where this happened I find the idea plausible although unfortunately the chances of prosecuting a burglar for manslaughter in this sort of case are non-existent.

rv

"But the indifference that's often shown towards victims of, say, burglary - and the excuses made for the perpetrators - is corrosive and demoralising."

Comparing burglary with rape is idiotic.

David

rv,

“Comparing burglary with rape is idiotic.”

I don’t recall anyone making the kind of comparison you suggest. This isn’t about some supposed equivalence.

The point, I think, is that there are those who take a remarkably accommodating view of criminality, even very serious criminality, and who insist on “understanding” and “rehabilitation over punishment,” while dismissing the punitive sentiment found in the “popular press.” Yet some of those same people, writing in the same publications, take a very different and much more punitive view when the crime being discussed is rape. The question, then, is why punishment should be an acceptable emphasis for one type of serious crime but not others. (In case it isn’t sufficiently clear, I’m not suggesting that burglary, for instance, is on a par with rape or deserving of equal penalty; merely that the issue of punishment, to whatever degree, seems relevant in both cases.)

bgc,

“I seem to recall a British study from a few years back that suggested that elderly victims of burglary tended to die a few years earlier than other old people.”

Well, I’d be wary of trying to pin down in law some causal connection between a burglary and the victim’s life expectancy or circumstances some years hence. Though I do think burglary can be traumatic and demoralising.

A couple of years ago, I caught someone breaking into my neighbour’s back yard via a passageway that runs behind the houses; he was obviously “casing the joint” and looking for opportunities. When the intruder looked up and realised he’d been spotted, his guilty expression was priceless. The youth dodged out the way he came and I assumed he’d be keen to run away pretty sharpish. But our friend took the time to break down a sizeable branch from a nearby tree, return to my neighbour’s yard and then throw the branch at my window. There was no damage, but his gesture of contempt – and apparent fearlessness – was remarkable. Evidently, he felt in no immediate danger and thus felt free to assert his position in some predatory food chain. Had I been an old dear and easily cowed by such gestures, perhaps I’d have heeded his message.

TDK

The attitude of the left to rape owes to left history.

In the period before the 1970s a part of the left believed in free love and an opposition to marriage/monogamy. This theme is very old - it goes back to early communes like New Harmony. Women who wouldn't put-out were hung-up. By the 1970s the women's movement had ushered in identity politics in which rape was seen as part of the weaponry of patriarchy. In contrast, other crimes like theft were seen as attacks on property - the Frankfurt school regarded crime as a protest against society or more particularly Capitalism. Thus there was a difference in the crimes. One being anti-progressive, the others being part of the attack on Capitalism. The difference in tariff is ideological.

That's why rape is required to be punished more severely. It is ideologically wrong.

Interesting, there's an ambivalent attitude to paedophilia on the left. (Parts of it). Certainly cranks and fringe group have always been associated with progressive politics and I'm not claiming that all on the left share those aims, but it surprises me how tolerant leftists can be of quite nasty people when they would never share a platform with, say, Keith Joseph.

Here's an article showing the tolerance of some on the left. Spot anyone famous?
http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/Press/press041.html

Wm T Sherman

Is burglary not considered a serious crime in Britain?

Besides the very serious property crime aspect, there is the permanent violation of one's peace of mind, and the simple fact that somebody willing to invade your dwelling could very well end up killing you. If your house is invaded while you are home, you are within your rights to kill the perpetrator immediately. No obligation whatsoever to hold, repel or avoid the burglar. Bang, period. If I ever broke into a house, it would be with the assumption that I was risking instant death.

Five to ten years would be a fairly mild sentence for burglarizing an unoccupied dwelling. Regarding an occupied dwelling, see above.

ECM

I might be over-generalizing, but I believe you put yourself in line to be arrested if you were to say, 'over-zealously', defend your life and property in (once great) Britain, i.e. you're supposed to just cower as best as possible and hope that the perp doesn't do you any harm, 'cause if you harm him you'll be in for the rough treatment the invader should be receiving exclusively.

David

There’s a discussion about burglary, self-defence and perception of the law here:

Is it “reasonable” to assume that the intruder is *merely* a thief who doesn’t mind terrorising those whose homes he violates and whose property he steals, but isn’t prepared to do actual violence to his victims, even when cornered? And on what is that assumption based? Given the situation, and the fact your heart is pounding, do you really have the time and means to fathom the intruder’s motives and take them into account before acting – and acting without “excess”? Or do you use whatever force possible to disable the intruder before he can even think about harming you or your child? And what if the intruder is bigger and stronger than you? What if he’s armed with a knife or a gun? Are you going to wait to find out, dutifully bearing in mind the likelihood of subsequent legal disputation?

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/07/being-reasonabl.html

Note also the quote by the Guardian’s Marcel Berlins, who disapproves of “premeditated” self-defence (i.e. being in a position to deal with intruders effectively) and doesn’t quite seem to grasp the moral imperative to defend one’s family and home from predators.

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