On justice

We all have our pet peeves – the things that stir us up, that light that ‘fire in the belly’ and get us going. For some it’s about family, for others it’s about a particular belief, mindset or ideology. For me it’s about ‘justice’.
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That should’ve been an easy enough thing to say, a straightforward word with a straightforward meaning. Unfortunately though, nothing could be further from the truth. That’s because justice itself has so many meanings, so many different interpretations for so many different people.

For some justice is synonymous with vengeance. They follow, to some degree or another, the old ‘eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth’ standard of the bronze age. For them justice is both simplistic and obvious. Theirs is the ‘two wrongs make a right’ approach that most of us grow out of before we leave the schoolyard. That’s not my type of justice.

Others acknowledge the complexity of determining right from wrong in a world that contains so much more grey than simple ‘black and white’. They accept that justice is complex and often difficult to define. I have to admit, that seems like a very good starting place. But then they go and spoil things by demanding that the victims of crime, the very people least likely to be objective, get to determine the most appropriate punishments. They’re the same people whose only real (and particularly unimaginative) contribution to debates about crime is to state….

“You wouldn’t say that if it was your…. (mother, father, son, daughter, home, money etc.)”

And of course, they’re right. I’d most probably want someone’s head on a plate, not because that’d be the right thing to do but because I’m human, I’m emotionally driven (as are we all) and sometimes I can be irrational (as can we all). But I still shouldn’t be able to mete out judgement or take the law into my own hands.
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The hallmark of a civilised society is that punishment is taken out of the hands of the individual and placed into the hands of the state.

Still others seem happy with the idea of a state controlled judiciary until it comes to the sentencing of offenders. Then their true colours tend to show. Then they become so similair to the ‘let the victims decide’ contingent that it’s hard to tell them apart.

These are the people who, with little or no knowledge of the often complex court proceedings and mitigating factors insist, as though through automatic reflex, that the sentence is too lenient. These are the people who complain loudly and incessantly that the convicted murderer ‘could be out in ten years’ without ever pausing to imagine just what ten years incarceration might be like. They’re the people who prefer emotional vengeance to rational justice and their lack of a sense of proportion shows all too well. They’re not interested in positive intervention to effect positive change. They simply want another person to suffer. In that respect, despite the apparent veneer of social awareness, they’re no more advanced than the ‘eye for an eye’ brigade.
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Personally I tend to lean toward utilitarianism – the philosophical approach that seeks to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. That doesn’t make me ‘soft’ or ‘naive’, by the way. I absolutely believe that society has both the right and the duty to protect itself. Sometimes that means long sentences – even life and that’s OK by me. But often it means something quite different. Often it means understanding, compassion and education. Often it means rehabilitation. What it most certainly does not mean and cannot, must not mean is the gratuitous inflicting of suffering. Justice must be purposeful and devoid of emotional bias.

However the real purpose of this post is to make one, simple point. Justice does not involve discrimination, retribution or sanction merely because of who a person is. Justice, as determined by the state, must be in response to actions and behaviours. It has nothing to do with prejudicial assumptions about nationality, heritage, skin colour, sexual orientation, poverty, dependency, political affiliation or place of birth.
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Justice is meted out in response to crime. Discrimination has no place in the justice system except for the fact that those who act upon those prejudices should be prosecuted along with any other criminal.
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Perhaps some of those unthinking supporters of the British far right, nationalist movement would do well to remember that.

The cabinet office versus Britain First cockwombles

This is wonderful! Yet another police investigation into Britain First’s (allegedly) fraudulent activities. This time the cabinet office is taking them to task over their use of crown copyright.

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Well it’s not as though they hadn’t been warned.

Stupid cockwombles!

The school, the governors and the UKipper

I like Whitby. It’s a lovely part of the North Yorkshire coast, even though it can be chilly when that ‘North wind doth blow’. It has an Abbey that was sacked by the Danes, just shy of 200 famous steps, a fictional vampire and most recently a UKIP school governor. Or rather it hasn’t.

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Councillor Mike Ward was elected as an independent but recently joined the right wing, nationalist party, Ukip. Consequently, if the press reports are to be believed, Eskdale school demanded and received his resignation from the board of governors. And that really can’t be right.

Personally I loathe UKIP. I think it’s a party of xenophobic, exploitative morons whose most successful policy is the one that forbids UKIP candidates and activists explaining their true intentions. But it’s a legitimate political party, it hasn’t been proscribed (nor should it be) and membership is not an offence in UK law.

“Unless you believe in freedom of speech for those with whom you absolutely disagree, you do not believe in freedom of speech at all.”

Ironically enough the UK’s attitude to freedom of conscience is protected, quite rightly, by the piece of legislation that UKippers hate the most. It’s part of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The underlying principle is important. All people should have the right to follow their conscience within the law without fear of sanction. The alternative is totalitarianism – there really isn’t much room for a grey area here. Either free opinion is acceptable or it is not. If it’s not then we have a very large problem.

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That’s why, although I understand and sympathise with the sentiment I cannot agree with Eskdale school’s decision. Odious though it is UKIP is a legitimate political party. Nobody should lose their position because of UKIP membership.

To my fellow lefties who may be tempted to disagree I say this….

UK socialist tradition remembers with outrage those brave founders who lost their jobs because of labour party and trade union affiliation. If we disagree with that (and I never met a fellow socialist who didn’t) then we must disagree with this shabby treatment of councillor Mike Ward too. We really can’t have it both ways.

Hopefully Mr. Ward will lose his political seat at the very next electoral opportunity. But whether he keeps his seat or not, he has a right to his political views and all of us, including we lefties should defend that right against all comers.

If you value freedom of conscience then for Pity’s sake – don’t ever vote UKIP. If you live in Whitby – support councillor Ward’s position at Eskdale school but vote the shit out of the nasty little UKipper come the next election.

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Britain First calls this democracy – everyone else calls it fascism

There can be no place in a working democracy for bully boy tactics. Any ‘political party’ that thinks it’s OK to send the boys round, to ‘incite violence’ or to denounce anyone who disagrees with them as “traitors” who should be “hung (sic), drawn and quartered” is unworthy of serious consideration in any mature democratic system.

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This weekend has just confirmed precisely what we’ve all known for months. Britain First is a group of neoNazi thugs who meet peaceful opposition with violence and who have no regard for British values like democracy, equality or fairness. Can you imagine how tragic it would be if these violent racists were ever to gain any actual power?
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Fortunately ‘the Fash’ has never really had much of a chance in UK – we’re too fair-minded.

They shall not pass!

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Just how nasty are Britain First?

Well worth a read. Britain First intimidating postal worker (& seeking his home address to ‘send the boys round’).

 

Just how nasty are Britain First?.

On this day in the world of far right politics

October  18th seems to be a bit of an issue for Nazis. It’s a day of atrocity and its repercussions. This was the day in 1942 when Hitler commanded the execution of captured allied commandos.

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It was the day in 1945 when the famous Nuremberg trials began and senior Nazis were called to book for their crimes against humanity committed against combatants and non-combatants alike.

Nuremberg defendents

It’s also the day in 2014 that Britain First returned to Hexthorpe in South Yorkshire – and this time they’ve brought reinforcements.

OK – whilst Britain First’s invasion of South Yorkshire isn’t exactly an ‘atrocity’ it does reveal a fairly atrocious attitude. They’re there for no other reason than to pour fuel on the fire of civil unrest within a diverse community. The hope is that by turning up and pretending actually to care about the residents of Hexthorpe they might gain a bit of publicity and maybe even a few Facebook likes and shares to boost their rather transparent claim to popularity.

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But it seems appropriate to remember what happened the last time these self-appointed ‘defenders of the faith’ visited Hexthorpe. They were beaten back by a small group of pre-pubescent children. The courageous captains of the Christian Patrol turned tail and fled when faced with little more than a small child with stabilisers on her bike.

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The first ‘Battle of Hexthorpe’ (helpfully described here by Exposing Britain First) has gone down in the annals of the British far right as a great adventure, a jolly jape of epic proportions but in fact the truth is somewhat different. As you can see the vicious horde that drove back Britain First’s intrepid expeditionary force wasn’t exactly the most fearsome – not even for South Yorkshire let alone the deserts of the middle East.

Hexthorpe 3 The battle of Hexthorpe

I may be wrong but I don’t think this bunch of neoNazi numpties would be very effective at all when faced with armed (adult) insurgents from ISIS. Then again – they’re hardly likely to find many of those on the streets of a small South Yorkshire town, are they? They’ll find plenty of kids to play soldiers with though.

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Who knows, one day they might even win a game.

 

Exposing Britain First: Some slideshows

Britain First is an extreme right wing, political party that behaves more like a bunch of street thugs than a democratic organisation. The few policies they have are based upon xenophobia and religious or racial discrimination. Britain First incites violence and hatred.
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It disturbs me greatly that they have managed to develop and maintain such a presence across social media. I hope it will disturb you too.
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Here’s a short (3.5 minutes) video from ‘Exposing Britain First’ showing precisely why Britain First is such a dangerous organisation.

This one lasts 15 minutes

And here’s a longer one (35 minutes), also from ‘Exposing Britain First’ with a bit more detail.

They’re racist scumbags whichever way you look at it!

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