Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Justice for Ian Huntley

Over here, Ewar makes a strong case against mob rule (careful Ewar, you're sounding liberal), so I thought I'd add my pennorth.

Ian Huntley murdered two children. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, which sounds fair enough to me.

In prison, he was badly injured in an attack by another prisoner (now a folk hero on Facebook, as Ewar explains) and intends to sue the prison authorities for endangering him. The story's been all over the worst tabloids this week.


Huntley's bad and/or mad. That's clear enough from his crime. That doesn't mean that he isn't a human being with all the rights that accrue. He's paying his debt to society. You don't lose your fundamental right to safety because you're a criminal. I'm very uncomfortable with the idea that he could have £100,000 in the bank in compensation for his injuries, but that's tough. He shouldn't have been attacked, and the prison service shouldn't create the conditions in which violent individuals can launch such attacks.

Justice is administered by the state, and blindly (that's the theory anyway, though women, for example, are imprisoned for offences men don't get locked up for, amongst other problems). It doesn't matter what Huntley's done when it comes to acting on crimes committed against him. If we remove the rights of the worst members of society, that undermines the social values that keep society on an even keel.

Personally, I'd like to see NHS care denied to anyone who crashes their car while using a mobile phone or not wearing a seat belt (my taxes, your stupidity), but I know that that's a slippery slope in which the loudest voices (Tory Scum and their tabloid friends) will institute a reign of terror. Before long you'd get AIDS treatment restricted to blood transfusion victims, or benefits doled out only to the 'deserving' poor. Oh hang on, that's already happening…


Ewarwoowar said...

I agree with every word - sadly though this is one of those opinions that you cant say out loud for fear of being branded as a fan of Huntley or some other such nonsense.

Thanks for the blog plug!

The Plashing Vole said...

I enjoyed your piece.
I intend to air this opinion loudly. Except in the pub.

Blossom said...

I've read both your and Ewar's piece and I agree totally. As a parent, I would gladly wish to harm anybody who had subjected my child to a violent death. Afterwards, would I feel better? I suspect no. There is most likely the possibility I would feel revulsion for myself for behaving no better then the scum who had killed my child.

The desire to harm another human being is not rooted in justice. The Facebook pages baying for Huntley's demise are reminiscent of centuries' old witch hunts. Has society really not progressed, become more enlightened? Huntley should of course be protected. As a human he has rights, irrespective of his own actions. More importantly however, he should be protected because if he is not, if society truly believes that, once condemned, an individual can be thrown to the wolves, then we live in a society which, behind the veneer of civility, is brutish and savage. I am sure there are certain wardens in secure hospitals/ prisons who believe they can meter out their own justice, turn a blind eye to an inmate's violence toward another. This effectively means the prisons are run by the inmates. (Yes, I know, I'm naive to have believed otherwise!)

And, as law abiding citizens, are we not being totally hypocritical to praise a convicted prisoner's crime committed against another, just because he harmed a controversial figure? If Ian Huntley tomorrow was in a position to glass Peter Sutcliffe, would he suddenly become a folk hero too?

The Plashing Vole said...

Blossom, that's a top-quality piece of writing. The last sentence encapsulates the situation perfectly. Wish I'd thought of it.

It's perfectly natural to feel violent towards Huntley. What marks us out as civilised is that we don't act on our impulses, but think about them. How we treat the worst people in society is the mark of how civilised we are - according to Churchill.

Zoot Horn said...

"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons." A quote attributed to Dostoevsky, but I've been trying to track it down for years and have never found it or even a close approximation of it in translations of his work. Good quote though.