Monday, 21 December 2009

Grayling's dog whistle a dishonest ploy

Chris Grayling gets plenty of column inches this morning with a suggestion that the Conservatives will declare open season on burglars and allow householders to murder them. This is palpable nonsense, and the Conservatives will certainly do no such thing. Grayling has chosen a silly phrase ' "grossly disproportionate" to blow his dog whistle. Disproportionality is like pregnancy; you can't be a little bit disproportionate. You either are or you aren't.

As the law stands, if I wake in the night to find an intruder inside my dark home, and he confronts me rather than flees, and if I'm in genuine fear of my life, I can strike him dead with whatever weapon comes to hand and do so quite justly and legally, even if when I switch the lights on the knife or screwdriver I thought he was holding turns out to be a TV remote. The existing law covers this. If, on the other hand, I return home in daylight to find a scrawny teen unplugging my video in circumstances where there was no threat, real or perceived, to my life and I kill him it would not be legal or just.

It was not reasonable for Tony Martin to shoot his burglar in the back as he was running away. It was not reasonable for Munir Hussain to beat his burglar half to death when the threat has passed; had Hussain killed him when the burglar was holding him at knife point, a time at which he may have felt his life was in danger, he would have had just reason.

I know from your comments below that many of you will disagree with me on this but I ask you to consider that what you are defending is not the right of self-defence, but the right of retribution. And if so, whether you really really want to remove the right of retribution from the courts to the aggrieved party?

If you sell me a car so dodgy it amounts to criminal fraud, do you also uphold my right to come around with a couple of the lads and hack-off your left hand in retribution? If you give me a forged tenner in my change, can I slit your nostrils open there and then?

Anyway, blogging from now on will be light. Many thanks and good wishes to all those who have commented throughout the year (even the weird Japanese dialogue) and may you all have a peaceful Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

14 comments:

talwin said...

Nicely balanced and informative post, Raedwald, and, in respect of paragraph 2, an accurate summation, I think, of the law as it stands: that is to say you CAN kill someone (assuming circs. and proportionality, etc. are 'right').

This morning I heard the woman doing the papers review on Sky, and looking at some redneck headline in the Mail, saying Tories say we can now kill burglars, or some-such. To paraphrase, she said she wasn't quite sure about this. She wasn't anti, you understand, but, like many, she clearly didn't understand that you can kill someone, and always have been able to do so, (if memory serves, it used to be called non-culpable homicide).

Thanks for your comments, rants and entertainment throughout year. Merry Christmas.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Yes, you are right, in law and in morals.

What's gone wrong is that the courts have given up on their "right of retribution". You just know, once your burglar is off your premises and running (or even strolling) away, nobody will make any effort to catch him, and if by some chance (such as, you catch him yourself), he is brought before a court, then even in a case like this one where the perp had a record as long as your arm, he got a suspended sentence.

The Justice System has abandoned the covenant; it's wrong for people to exact their own revenge, but I refuse to blame them, and if I am ever on the jury in such as case, they'll be acquitted if I can bring it about.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Oh and hoist that tree up to the truck: Happy Christmas, skipper!

dickiebo said...

"...whether you really really want to remove the right of retribution from the courts to the aggrieved party?.."
I'm afraid that our Courts have shown themselves to be completely out-of-touch with public requirements, so 'aggrieved parties' can't do any worse.

talwin said...

PS

I notice that the Telegraph is reporting another 'dog whistle dishonest ploy'. Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, and Justice (sic) Secretary, Jack Straw are 'uncomfortable' (bless) about the Hussein matter and are going to look again at the relevant law.

At least Grayling was dog whistling first. As usual, Labour dither, panic, then follow.

someone needs to tell Johnson and Straw, THERE'S NOTHING TO LOOK AT: IT'S ALL THERE: ALWAYS WAS.

Anonymous said...

The problem with your characterisation, R, and with the law as it stands is that it is cold, bloodless and demands a degree of objectivity that few people can provide in the heat of the moment.

If you come home and find a scrawny teen inside your house unplugging my television, you are not likely to spend time estimating his weight, his muscle mass, his bellicosity and the question of what amount of force would be reasonable. You'll either run or you'll chin the bastard (at which point he'll either run or fight you).

Someone in your home is a threat, whether they are scrawny or man-mountain. They are a threat and you are going to feel threatened. You err grievously in trying to apply an utterly subjective measure of threat assessment and you insult our intelligence, while demeaning your own argument, by comparing the presence of a potentially violent criminal in your home to something like selling a dodgy car.

People do not harm burglars because they are extracting retribution. They harm burglars because they are scared, their adrenaline is pumping and they have no idea who this intruder is or what he'll do.

If you have, as you imply, such sang-froid that you are capable of evaluating all sudden and expected threats in the manner of a Terminator robot, I congratulate you, but I point out that you are a strange individual to be able to master your own fear, surprise and adrenaline as though at the flick of a switch.

Kinderling said...

"It was not reasonable for Tony Martin to shoot his burglar in the back as he was running away. (To regroup and rearm and come back)".

English Pensioner said...

The present law does not take into account what someone might do in the heat of the moment, it requires you to act reasonably which can be a totally different thing.
As an airline pilot friend said to me, "if you have a problem with the aircraft and know you have a few seconds to make a decision, you simply do what you experience and judgement tells you is best. If it still crashes, a Board of Enquiry comprising far more experienced and knowledgeable people will debate the issue for about six months and probably decide that you should have done something else.
It's exactly the same with self-defence.

hatfield girl said...

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, R.

Anonymous said...

This is what is wrong with society.
If a person is in your house stealing or vandalising your property, you should be able to take what ever action is required to protect your self and your property, I dont give a toss they should not be there, they have given up all rights the moment the stepped to to your property, I say sod them if they die in the process of their criminal act so what! again the wrong doer is protected.

Or would you rather have some person being badly injured by said intruder, or even worse dying?

Your choice.

Pat said...

Your argument stands as far as it goes- householders have the right, both moral ande legal, to defend their selves and property- but punishment is in the hands of the law.
However, Mr. Martin's victim had if I recall, 27 previous convictions at the age of 16, Mr. Hussein's victim had fifty four previous convictions, and his accomplices have not as yet been found. Given the level of punishment dealt out by the law- when any punishment is in fact dealt- the law brings itself into contempt.
Of course these burglars should instead have been punished by the law- but the law had many opportunities and did nothing effective to discourage them from a life of crime.
Perhaps if the law had actually locked these people up then they would have been safe from being shot or beaten- and Mr Martin as well as Mr. Hussein would have been less likely to take the law into their own hands.

Anonymous said...

If you are white and hurt a black male burglar while he is stealing from you and in your house - would you actually trust the courts to sort it out. And would you have the money needed to avoid legal retribution. And the friends to avoid burglar retribution?

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you what old chap - if I ever caught a buglar in my house, he'd be playing his own last post! Or at least he would be sequestered to the Vicar's Cross hunt on boxing day! Sod Labour's absurd laws! Time for another port (hic)!

Merry Christmas to all followers of Radders and indeed to your good self Radders old boy!

Coney Island

Anonymous said...

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