I’m moderately anti-death penalty, largely because I don’t fully trust governments both present and future. If we lived in a perfect society, with a permanent guarantee of a fair judicial system, then I might well support the death penalty – but then, in such a mythical utopia, it wouldn’t be needed.
So this may sound strange coming from someone who’s not in favour of the death penalty, but I hope that Dylann Roof is sentenced to death by a court in America. To recap, Roof is the Charleston shooter who walked into a church in 2015 and began firing indiscriminately at black people in the hopes of starting a race war. He killed nine people not just to propagate his vile white separatist views, but to try to cause a civil war so that people of a different skin colour could be butchered.
In his own words, “I would like to make it crystal clear that I do not regret what I did. I am not sorry.” He has a high IQ, has represented himself in court, and stated in court “There is nothing wrong with me psychologically.” Roof is a mass-murderer. There is no doubt of that whatsoever. His actions were premeditated. There is no remorse. There is no genuine question of insanity, just of pure evil.
America’s judicial system has a death penalty, and uses it frequently – often with far, far less justification than in this case. Suppose that the jury decides upon an alternative sentence in this case. That would further Roof’s agenda by inflaming tensions, by creating a genuine sense of injustice: America executes murderers, but not the one who mowed people down solely based upon the colour of their skin.
If a society has the death penalty, then it must be applied without fear or favour for the most heinous crimes. To execute lesser offenders, whilst granting mercy to Roof, would make a mockery of the system.
Now, a video has gone viral on the internet showing four black men and women (I’m not prepared to describe 18 year olds as ‘kids’ as the police in Chicago have done) who had kidnapped a white man with learning disabilities brutally and mercilessly torturing their victim (see this report).
They did not kill anyone, but the depravity of their actions is such that justice demands a lengthy jail sentence.
I feel like I’m stating the obvious here, yet it seems that there’s few people saying it. The skin colour of an offender should be irrelevant to the sentence that they should receive. So should their gender and whether they’re rich or poor.
Statues of Lady Justice usually depict her holding scales and a sword, whilst also blindfolded. The blindfold symbolises impartiality; the scales represent the weighing up of both sides of a case, and the double-edged sword symbolises reason and justice. (It’s a quirk of history that the statue at the Old Bailey is not blindfolded, for apparently her ‘maidenly form’ was traditionally considered sufficient to guarantee impartiality)
So let me be absolutely crystal clear. Justice should treat all people from all walks of life equally. Nobody should receive any special treatment, nor should anyone be hounded because of any characteristic.
White or black, rich or poor, man or woman, Christian, Sikh, Muslim, Hindu or atheist, justice should treat us all the same. If any person convicted or a serious offence is not a British citizen, then they have abused our nation’s generosity and hospitality and they should be deported.
I wrote on Facebook about the Kevin Crehan case previously, amongst other things, because of a belief in equality: whilst his actions were appalling, and whilst his sentence wasn’t in and of itself completely unreasonable, the way he was singled out to receive such a harsh sentence whilst others do not – that was unreasonable. There were striking similarities between his case (a year in jail, of which 6 months would have been served) and that of Emdadur Choudhury, whose poppy burning was every bit as much a threat to public order yet who received just a £50 fine.
Political correctness is a corrosive influence. When police failed to deal with the Rotherham (and elsewhere) grooming gangs, part of the reason was a fear of being seen to arrest people from one particular religious background. Political correctness breeds resentment, and resentment breeds the very racism that political correctness itself was introduced to stop. It is dangerously counterproductive and just plain wrong.
And, whilst FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) is an issue more cultural than religious (something which has occurred in various communities), the abject failure of our legal system to punish this callous act once again raises questions.
I don’t hold to the view that all nationalities should be equally represented in the prison population. Some cultures may commit less than the average number of offences; others may commit more. Certain types of crime may be more prevalent in one culture than in another.
I’m concerned too about gender-based sentencing. I support equality between men and women, whether that’s so-called ‘men’s issues’ or ‘women’s issues’. A true belief in equality means that if feminists rail against a true injustice, I’ll be on their side in respect of that injustice. In the same way, if it were Fathers for Justice who pointed out a different inequality, then I would be equally passionate about that.
The offender should always be punished on the merits of the case, taking into account all mitigating and aggravating factors. Whoever commits a crime should be equally likely to go to jail for that crime irrespective of their background.
The sad part about all this is that I could sum up this entire post in just three words: Treat Everybody Equally. That shouldn’t be difficult. If society could just do that, perhaps we wouldn’t be in this mess.