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Justice will only be served if Jon Venables remains anonymous

9 Mar

The news that Jon Venables has been returned to prison* has, unsurprisingly, caused something of a feeding frenzy amongst right-wing tabloids and their readers focused around an alleged “need to know” why he has been recalled. So far, the “need to know” brigade have been unable to explain precisely why anyone unconnected with the case has any need to know anything about it, preferring to deflect such questions with emotive and inflammatory arguments about it being in the public interest, and all about justice for the family of James Bulger (along with lots of silly remarks about NuLiebor** secrecy). However, I can provide a very good reason why not only do we not need to know, but it is actually far better if we don’t. 


Venables is, apparently, accused of child pornography offences. This means there are now a whole new set of victims who have suffered either directly, or indirectly, because of his actions. These children deserve justice every bit as much as James did. 


It’s commonplace to assume that looking at photos of children being abused is, in some unfathomable way, less serious than actually doing it. This is a completely bogus argument. Anyone who looks as such material for enjoyment is complicit in the acts depicted. End of! The children in those images are real, they aren’t ‘posed by models’, they aren’t computer generated. They are real children who suffer for the gratification of others. They deserve to have their suffering recognised, and their abusers prosecuted. As anyone with half an idea about the British legal system knows, these children will not get justice if tabloid newspapers are allowed to print identifying information about Venables because, once identified, there would be little chance of him receiving a fair trial. The Crown Prosecution Service will be forced to drop the case, he will go unpunished, and may even end up back on the streets. 


And no, that’s not because of some left-wing plot to promote criminals’ rights, it’s because our legal system attempts to ensure everyone who appears before a court is tried without favour or prejudice, no matter who they are, and no matter what they may have done in the past. Whether you agree with that or not, it’s a system that’s worked well over many centuries and only the stupendously stupid would consider it should be overturned simply to satisfy the prurient curiosity of armchair vigilantes. 


Furthermore, arrests in such cases often come as part of a wider investigation. It’s entirely possible that, if guilty, Venables is only one link in a very long chain, and that identifying him to the public will compromise the whole investigation. 


Bearing all that in mind: if you genuinely believe you “need to know”, do you also think that should be accommodated at any price? Even at the price of letting guilty people go untried? 


*Technically, it’s not a return because he didn’t serve his original sentence in a prison.


** Not my spelling, but that of the oh-so-witty ranting righties who seem to have overlooked the fact that Venables was last tried under a Tory government when he was named by a judge, leaving the Home Office no choice but to give him a new identity. 

Are the UK and the EU the "new communist threat"?

21 Apr

Are the UK and the EU the “new communist threat”?

this story (published here) was due to be published here too however a slight mishap of forgotten username slowed this down (so the story is three days old now).

A story in quotes.

Vladimir Bukovksy, the 63-year old former Soviet dissident, fears that the European Union is on its way to becoming another Soviet Union. In a speech he delivered in Brussels last week Mr Bukovsky called the EU a “monster” that must be destroyed, the sooner the better, before it develops into a fullfledged totalitarian state.
Former Soviet Dissident Warns For EU Dictatorship

Here is an excerpt from that self same article:

PB: But all these countries that joined the European Union did so voluntarily.

VB: No, they did not. Look at Denmark which voted against the Maastricht treaty twice. Look at Ireland [which voted against the Nice treaty]. Look at many other countries, they are under enormous pressure. It is almost blackmail. Switzerland was forced to vote five times in a referendum. All five times they have rejected it, but who knows what will happen the sixth time, the seventh time. It is always the same thing. It is a trick for idiots. The people have to vote in referendums until the people vote the way that is wanted. Then they have to stop voting. Why stop? Let us continue voting. The European Union is what Americans would call a shotgun marriage.
Former Soviet Dissident Warns For EU Dictatorship

But it’s not just the EU that is heading that way – the UK is doing it all by herself.

…they arrest a woman for reciting the names of British troops killed in Iraq in an otherwise peaceful protest near the Cenotaph. Maya Evans, who had fallen foul of a clause in the Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act, was duly convicted last week, given a conditional discharge and left with a criminal record.
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telegraph.co.uk on actions of the police

But that’s not all.

Then, an author taking part in a broadcast discussion about gay adoptions was telephoned by a policewoman and informed that her name had been noted following a complaint that she had made a “homophobic” remark on air.
telegraph.co.uk on actions of the police

If that were all you could laugh but: EU aims to criminalise Holocaust denial. So now if I were to make sick jokes about the Nazi’s and the Jews I’m for the chop, but if I make sick jokes about the USSR I am fine. Furthermore if I incite hated about minorities I am doomed but if I do so about large enough groups I am theoretically safe.

Under this law Muslim (or other minority) extremists could potentially stir up war against the west but western extremists may not retaliate.

Sound fair to me – NOT!

Laws that make denying or trivialising the Holocaust a criminal offence punishable by jail sentences will be introduced across the European Union, according to a proposal expecting to win backing from ministers Thursday.

Offenders will face up to three years in jail under the proposed legislation, which will also apply to inciting violence against ethnic, religious or national groups.
EU aims to criminalise Holocaust denial

Is anyone else wondering if any other country might be a safe place to live?

I’m frightened enough to want to expatriate away as soon as I can.

More analysis of the story.

However as reported by the BBC the new law (passed today) has “stopped short of a blanket ban on Holocaust denial“.

However, trends being what they are, where will it end? Where could a family go to be safe?

Prostitution: Is legalisation the answer?

4 Feb

The media coverage of the terrible murders of young women who worked as prostitutes in Ipswich has brought the issue of how to deal with prostitution back into the public arena. Not surprisingly, calls for it’s legalisation* have been made, or alternatively, tolerance zones, in which women (or men) could work with some degree of protection both from prosecution and the threat of assault or worse. While I can understand why these ideas seem to have some merit, I think those who support them are missing a very important point. If we legalise, or turn a blind eye to prostitution, we are in effect, legitimising the exploitation of vulnerable people, and effectively locking them into a cycle which, in all too many cases, will lead to them suffering an early death along with a great deal of misery on the way.

There is a widely believed myth that women who work in the so called ‘sex industry’ are either hard up mums who need to earn enough to feed their families, or do so because they are sexually liberated and enjoy their work. Neither of these stereotypes is true. Between 95 and 97% of prostitutes are working to support a drug habit. Of the remaining 3 – 5% many are women who have been illegally trafficked into this country and forced to sell their bodies. Others are the victims of violent partners who pimp them to the highest bidder. By lending an air of legitimacy to the trade we would not be helping it’s victims at all. We would simply be making it easier for men (and it usually is men who are the pimps regardless of the gender of the prostitute) to exploit them.

Tolerance zones and legalised brothels are not the answer. In order to work in such a place a woman/man would need to be both over the age of legal consent, and healthy. Many prostitutes would fail in one or both categories. Sadly, there is a market for under-age girls and boys, and legalisation would do nothing to protect young runaways who find themselves first addicted to drugs, and then forced out onto the streets by older people who initially claimed they wished to help them. The same is true of those who are HIV+, they would end up on the fringes, with even less protection than they now have, selling themselves even more cheaply because they are proven to be ‘damaged goods’.

Prostitution may be the oldest profession, but that does not mean it is an acceptable one. Not because of any kind of morality, but because it is something people only do out of sheer desperation. If the only people who did this kind of work did so through choice and a desire to provide a service, then it would be perfectly acceptable – it is not up to me to tell anyone how they should earn a living – however, those people are very, very few, and far between. Lets face it, ask any ten year what they want to be when they grow up, and I’m pretty sure a drug addict and prostitute won’t be responses you will hear.

Most prostitutes are in that situation because they feel they have no other choice, and if we really wish to help them we need to give them an alternative. Drug treatment programmes, safe havens for those fearing violence, education and training would be of far more use, especially when coupled with much tougher treatment of the real problem – those who choose to exploit others. We no longer allow small children to work 12 hour days in factories, and anyone found to be administering such a practice would, rightly, be imprisoned and become a social pariah. Yet, we have a situation where vulnerable young people are being exploited for profit, ruining both their own lives and those of their families, and some people say we should legalise this.

* Technically, prostitution is legal, it is soliciting which is against the law.

Good Neighbours?

26 Aug

Uzma Rahan, her husband Arshad, their two sons Adam (11), Abbas (8) and daughter Henna (6), sadly these names have been become familiar to UK news viewers for all the wrong reasons. Arshad is missing, is known to have flown to Thailand but could be good knows where. His wife and three children are all dead, murdered by a blow to the head. A horrific and hugely tragic story. However, the reason I have mentioned this story is as follows. This family lived in suburbia, yet the bodies of the Uzma and her three children are believed to have lain undiscovered in their house for up to four weeks. Four weeks! How bad do things have to be for inactivity at the house not to have been noticed for such a length of time?

It may not be so obvious to read politics into this. However we do have to wonder what our politicians and local councils are doing to help engender good community relations or bad ones? I’m not suggesting we all go round to our neighbours straight away to give them a hug, metaphorical or otherwise. After all we can choose where we live but not who our neighbours are. Even so at some point we all have to rely on our neighbours for something.