All entries for Monday 21 November 2005

November 21, 2005

The death penalty

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4453848.stm

Hmmm, a lot of things in the news have been annoying me in the past few days…

Why is taking the life of a police officer worse than that of any other human being? Saying this implies that a police officer's life is more important than that of any other. Could it not be viewed as more terrible to take the life of a child? By choosing to work in the emergency services police officers must be accepting that they will put themselves in more danger than your average person during a day at the office. Not to say that taking a bullet is part of the job, but risk is, presumably, expected.

Surely the death penalty is either right or wrong and should be applied to all murderers or none at all? Why is there one rule for one murderer and another for another? Who's to say that this murderer was any more evil than, say, a serial killer whose attacks were all premeditated and meticulously planned?

The ex-Met Police chief quoted in the above article describes the murderer as a 'monster who executed this young woman in cold blood' and his act as 'pure evil'. Would it not also be reasonable to think that the murderer was acting partly through panic? I'm sure killing a police officer was probably not part of the plan and it was not premeditated. Does that make his crime worse or better? Can you even define a murder as being worse or better than any other?

Something that confused me highly was the extreme reaction of the ex-chief-of-police. He said that all his life he has been against the death penalty, but that this murder has changed his mind. In another article I read that 36 police officers have been murdered in the line of duty in the past two decades. Why, then, has he changed his mind this time? Perhaps because she was the first woman to be murdered in a criminal case?

The same guy also says that if the death penalty is not imposed as a result of this murder then 'wrong really has finally totally triumphed over right and all civilised society, all we hold dear, is the loser'. I am unsure of exactly where I stand on the death penalty issue, but have a gut feeling that 'an eye for an eye' is not the basis for a civilised society.

On the radio show I was listening to this morning someone called for a life sentence to mean life instead of introducing the death penalty. This is, however, an unrealistic goal as prisons are already overcrowded. There is also an argument that the taxpayer shouldn't have to keep criminals fed an housed for the length of their lives. But to introduce the death penalty, even in part, to solve the problem of overcrowding in prisons is deeply wrong. So what do we do?


Rape: do we deserve it?!

I hope I'm not the only person who's been shocked by the figures released this morning from a survey by Amnesty International.

This survey, of over 1000 British men and women, showed that a third thought that women who flirt with men have only themselves to blame if they are raped. A similar number thought that being drunk or wearing revealing clothing laid blame solely at the woman's door. I know that some women are not responsible: they get overly drunk and consequently make themselves vulnerable and act in a way that is inappropriate and may lead men on. But to say that mere flirting gives a man a right to force sexual intercourse on a woman is crazy! I, and all women I know, dress in clothes they think suit them so that they look attractive. But I object to being classifed as up for a shag just because I want to look good. Would the same people say that well-endowed women should expect to be a target for rapists just because they are stereotypically attractive?!

Scarily, the 12,000 cases of rape reported in the UK each year are speculated to only represent a fifth of the actual number of cases, and only six per cent of reported rapes actually led to a conviction. With statistics like that and potentially painful and lengthy trials leading up to the small number of convictions it's hardly surprising that the problem is not being dealt with. But if the general public opinion is such that women are automatically disbelieved when they report a rape, they are going to tend to keep quiet. Why, for apparently a third of people in this country, is it their instinct to blame the victim?


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