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[P]
Icons of Hate

By codemonkey_uk in News
Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 10:34:59 AM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

1993.02.12 : Jon Venables and Robert Thompson (both aged 10) took Jamie Bulger, aged 2, from a shopping mall in Liverpool, England, and beat him to death with bricks and an iron bar. It was a murder that shook Britain.

2001.01.09 : Lady Justice Butler-Sloss, convinced that "these young men are ... at serious risk of attacks", grants Jon Venables (18) and Robert Thompson (18) anonymity.


Juvenile Crime, Punishment, Rehabilitation and Anonymity - the Jamie Bulger Story

This complex and emotive story was fraught with controversy from the start. Two children from troubled homes, in a run down area of Liverpool, out playing truant, kidnapped, abused and killed a toddler. The Guardian's post-case analysis provides the best background information to be found, including the implication of factors such as upbringing, video nasties, bullying and education in the case.

1993.11.24 : Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, now aged 11, are tried as adults and, found guilty, become the youngest convicted murderers in Britain for almost 250 years. Their sentence - detention without limit for 'unparalleled evil'.

1999.12.17 : The European Court of Human Rights rules that Jon Venables, Robert Thompson, now aged 17, did not receive fair trial and that the fixed sentences were in breach of their human rights. Although this ruling did not overturn the conviction, or order their release, it was to have serious implications for the British juvenile justice system.

2000.04.14 : British Home Secretary, Jack Straw, orders the Lord Chief Justice to review the minimum sentence for Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, the killers of James Bulger.

2000.06.05 : It comes to press attention that, like all young offenders, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson could be "spared prison", and released after 7 years.

2001.01.09 Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, now 18, are granted anonymity by Lady Justice Butler-Sloss, in an attempt to protect them from mob violence and lynching. The press' response is a predictable, if mixed reaction of outrage at the "encroachment on press freedom" (The Times) and support.

Topic for discussion: Given that their release is inevitable do you think that their right to anonymity, and protection from attack, should be preserved, or do you think, like the author of an email petition currently doing the rounds, that the public has a right to know?

Bonus Question: How should a civilised society deal with juvenile crime?

Further reading

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Poll
Anonymity for Jon Venables and Robert Thompson
o Yes 63%
o No 36%

Votes: 148
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o a murder that shook Britain
o these young men are ... at serious risk of attacks
o Guardian's post-case analysis
o youngest convicted murderers
o did not receive fair trial
o Lord Chief Justice to review the minimum sentence
o spared prison
o granted anonymity by Lady Justice Butler-Sloss
o press' response
o The Guardian / Observer on Bulger
o The Independent on Bulger
o Also by codemonkey_uk


Display: Sort:
Icons of Hate | 165 comments (152 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
good job (3.00 / 3) (#1)
by Defect on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 08:28:27 AM EST

Excellent job with the writeup stating primarily the facts. I was looking forward to how you'd present this while removing much of the personal feeling that i saw yesterday :)

The only problem i had though, was with the #'s in parantheses at the beginning, it would have been nice to note that those are ages, i first thought they were pointing to footnotes but i figured it out.
defect - jso - joseth || a link
admins, please read (none / 0) (#3)
by Defect on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 08:32:34 AM EST

If it's at all possible, could you make my comment 'Editorial' as that's what it should've been, i must have slipped before posting.
defect - jso - joseth || a link
[ Parent ]
Much as it pains me to say ... (4.40 / 5) (#6)
by tetsuo on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 09:09:49 AM EST

... I agree that they should have anonymity.

I also agree that it's horrible what they did. Absoloutely detestable. My heart honestly goes out to the relatives of that innocent child.

However, the system tripped up on this one. I don't like to see any court case slip by a successful prosecution, especially on one that seems so clear-cut and dry. But facts are facts, and it did. Exceptions shouldn't be made.

What is anonymity in britian though? I'm from the states, so I can only imagine the government sets you up somewhere, gives you another name, and says goodbye. Will they be watched? Surely the press or someone will eventually get hold of their new names. Will they be protected? I'm (blissfully?) unaware of the laws of anonymity elsewhere. And not too keen on the ones here as it were.

---

Bit Like Witness Protection (3.66 / 3) (#8)
by Aztech on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 09:18:32 AM EST

If the government does their job properly then nobody should ever trace them, since the public hasn't seen them since they were 10, and now they're 18 I doubt anybody would ever recognise them, people change so much during that time.

The important aspect, I just hope they're cured of whatever made them commit such a vile act.

It's worth noting they might not even be in the UK anymore.


[ Parent ]
Anonymity in the UK (3.50 / 2) (#11)
by codemonkey_uk on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 09:31:15 AM EST

AFAIK Anonymity in the UK is as you described, but with addition legal protection, in the form of a press gag.

That is, the court order makes it illegal for the press to report it, even if they do find out - hense the press outrage at infringments on their right to report.

Of course, IANAL...
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

Internet (4.00 / 1) (#57)
by pallex on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 01:51:48 PM EST

I`m sure their names will get out onto the net. If this action were traced to a newspaper (or someone working for a paper) would they be liable for prosecution? I mean, if it were `published` on a site outside u.k. jurisdiction? Is it the act of publishing it (and location), or just the fact that it were published? What if the information was taken to another land and published, then the guy who published it came back. Criminal or not?

(I think it would be amusing for a yoof tv show (the Word, ali-g etc) to offer the prize of some cannabis, but you get given it in Amsterdam. Are the producers of the show breaking the law, for supplying drugs, or are they NOT, as the drugs would be supplied in a country where they are legal/decriminalized? (A way around this would be to not mention the prize until the winner arrived in Holland, and claim that the prize hadnt been decided in the u.k. Hint hint to all you program producers out there, angling for ideas to increase viewing figures!!! :))




[ Parent ]
comparison with trondheim case (4.66 / 6) (#9)
by motty on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 09:22:43 AM EST

it's mentioned a lot in connection with this (and linked to via some of the pages in the write up) but it's worth mentioning again: compare Bulger with the Trondheim case, details of which are here.

in sum, a similar tragic child killing took place in Trondheim, Norway, at around the same time. the difference in reactions could not be more marked. those who bang on about the 'freedom of the press' in connection with Bulger, which in this case translates directly into the 'right to commit lynchings,' are notably silent on this.
s/^.*$//sig;#)

I have to disagree about Trondheim (2.66 / 3) (#14)
by garethwi on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 09:42:04 AM EST

There is a world of difference between the Bulger case and what went on in Trondheim. When you read about Trondheim, you can only think that the girls death was an accident, purely and simply. In such circumstances it would be inhuman to hold the boys to account. I think manslaughter would be the most serious charge you could level at the boys.

The Bulger case, on the other hand, was a premeditated act of torture and murder. One of the boys even did a practise run (without the actual murder part) using his own brother. Both of them boasted that they were going to do it weeks before the their schoolfriends.

There really is a world of difference between the two cases, and the only similarity is that children were involved.

[ Parent ]
cases different, reactions more different (4.66 / 3) (#32)
by motty on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:21:04 AM EST

of course the cases are different, and the facts of the cases are different. however, the difference in reactions is a whole different kind of difference.

could you morally justify everything you felt, thought and did at the age of ten? how many people could? i spent a lot of time at age ten playing with plastic replica pistols and wishing they were real. since i was in the uk i didn't have access to real guns, but what if i had done? i didn't want to kill anybody, but i was entirely convinced that i was in fact Penfold, Dangermouse's sidekick, and who knows what could have happened if i had become equally convinced that some other ten year old was Baron Greenback.

there but for the grace of god go all of us, i think.

meanwhile Trondheim shows us that it isn't necessary to react to crimes committed by small children by forming a countrywide lynch mob, no matter how vile the crime they committed was, and no matter how far it appeared 'premeditated'. premeditation implies an adult level of responsibility and planning of one's future actions that does not apply properly to ten year olds, even to ten year olds that have been demonised by a vicious tabloid media baying for blood (and circulation). the language you use ('premeditated', 'boasted') shows that you have been had by this demonisation.

they were ten. they did something unspeakably horrible. they have paid for it by having their whole lives and the whole lives of their families shattered. Trondheim shows that rehabilitation is possible. Bulger shows that there are cases where rehabilitation will not be given a chance if we allow tabloid blood-lust to lead the way. and odd though it feels to me to argue for a curb on the freedom of the press, in this case, the gagging order and anonymity will hopefully sidestep the mob rule that would otherwise hold sway.
s/^.*$//sig;#)
[ Parent ]

You wanted to be *Penfold*? (5.00 / 2) (#59)
by rusty on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 01:54:04 PM EST

but i was entirely convinced that i was in fact Penfold, Dangermouse's sidekick, and who knows what could have happened if i had become equally convinced that some other ten year old was Baron Greenback.

You'd have visciously and ruthlessly run away and cowered? Good Lord, if British kids are growing up wanting to be Penfold, no wonder the sun now sets on the British Empire. ;-)

"Crumbs, chief! What do we do now??"

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

yeah, Penfold (none / 0) (#94)
by motty on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 09:57:27 PM EST

dammit, what could i do? my best friend at the time was Dangermouse. we couldn't both be Dangermouse. sure, i'd have been inclined to have ruthlessly and maliciously run away and cowered from anything (still am, really), but that guy Dangermouse (we lost touch many years ago) could probably have convinced me to do anything at age ten. more generally, there are those of us that grew up identifying with heroes and those of us that grew up identifying with sidekicks. go figure. i dunno...

more seriously, i don't know the details of the Bulger case to the extent where i could say which one of Venables or Thompson was the 'leader' or whether they were both equally instigators, but consider this: maybe one of the two was the genuinely deranged lunatic (aged ten) that led the way into this horrible tragedy, while the other one would *never* have done any such thing by themselves... who now could say which is which?
s/^.*$//sig;#)
[ Parent ]

Leader (2.00 / 1) (#117)
by codemonkey_uk on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 06:14:44 AM EST

From what I've read it sounds like Robert was the ring leader.

See: http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/bulger/article/0,2763,195271,00.html

He was already a petty theif, and a truant before they two boys met, where as Jon was not considered a trouble maker until they became friends.
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

Not only that... (3.00 / 1) (#125)
by garethwi on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 09:55:52 AM EST

...but wasn't he the one who tried to strangle another child while in prison? Nice way to show how much of a reformed character he is.

[ Parent ]
Anonymity (4.63 / 11) (#12)
by spiralx on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 09:36:11 AM EST

This is, and has been, an incredibly contentious issue here in the UK, with people on both sides of the argument trying to get their views across to the public. It's also stuck in one of those grey areas of the judicial system - how can you tell whether or not somebody is responsible for their actions?

To be honest, a case can be made both ways for whether the two boys really understood what they were doing. Their backgrounds weren't particularly loving, and I doubt they had been taught any real notions of right and wrong behaviour, but this hardly falls into the category of a typical youth crime, and screams of agony would tend to indicate to most people they're not doing something good. And the fact that they acted to hide the evidence suggests that they knew they'd done something wrong as well, although the fact that they were found in an arcade playing games later on suggests they had little clue they would be in trouble.

But whether or not they knew what they were doing the point is that the law should be based on justice and not vengance! Going by this country's previous record, if they aren't given anonymity then they'll be found and torn to pieces pretty quickly - we had riots and other violence last year when one of our "newspapers" published a list of known paedophiles and their locations. Unfortunately other victims included a paediatrician who was mistaken by a mob for a child molester.

There can't be a line for which on one side people are considered to have paid for their crimes once their sentance is completed and on the other side they are considered to still be tainted. If this is the case then that's too much power in the arms of the courts - they will essentially be deciding the course of the rest of the lives of offenders rather than just their sentances.

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey

Say, whatever happened to Mary Bell? (nomsg) (2.25 / 4) (#20)
by marlowe on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 10:17:11 AM EST


-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
Mary Bell (none / 0) (#23)
by codemonkey_uk on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 10:23:18 AM EST

Ms Bell, originally from Newcastle, built a new life under a new identity on being freed from jail in 1980 but reporters tracked her down eight years later.

In 1998 there was renewed media interest after Ms Bell was paid for her help in a book on her life by the author Gitta Sereny.

Ms Bell's teenage daughter had been unaware of her mother's past until reporters besieged the family home.

- The future for Bulger's killers BBC News
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
Who is Marry Bell? (1.00 / 2) (#74)
by delmoi on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 05:46:37 PM EST

I have no idea
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Its our own fault (2.81 / 11) (#21)
by DoubleEdd on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 10:18:02 AM EST

If the public don't want them to be made anonymous then its simple - all they have to do is stop forming lynch mobs.

Wrong (2.54 / 11) (#30)
by theboz on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:08:27 AM EST

There is a reason for the "lynch mobs" as you call it. These two monsters deserve to be punished for their crimes. However, there is no hope for them to ever change now. If they show any remorse, it is only because they were caught not because they are murderers. The only solution that is just is to execute them. I know to a lot of people that sounds wrong and too harsh. What about the family of the victim? Why do you want to let the evil things that murdered the little boy get away with it?

I guarantee you that if a person I cared about was murdered and they knew exactly who did it, I would have that person killed. There is no place for murderers, and the fact that we live in a society that has a love affair with criminals is sickening. The court system does not provide justice anymore. It's just a ceremonial waste of time. Here's the basic scenario:

These two murder a little kid in cold blood after torturing him. The police, who's job is to serve and protect, find out what happened later, as they are normally nothing better than historians. They find out somehow about these two that killed the little boy, and arrest them. There is a court trial, where the mother of the children is forced to look at the two beasts that murdered her baby while they say what happened. The judge decides they are too young to go to jail for life (which would not help change them, only make them worse) and that it is too barbaric to execute them, so effectively they get away with it. There is no justice in that.

I don't know what happened. Public executions were a big deterrent to crime, but then we got this hippie/christian ethic where supposedly it is wrong to eliminate the bad members of society? I would agree that it is bad to execute someone that might be wrongly accused. However, if we know for sure that it was them what is the problem? Why do so many people want their kids to be murdered and raped? Why do they want to keep these monsters living and able to hurt more people? Those who think that these two should not be punished because of their age or some other nonsensical reason are just as bad as they are. If you think that these two shouldn't be executed as they deserve, then you might as well have tortured and thrown the little boy on the tracks yourself.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Argument against capitol punishment in brief (3.50 / 2) (#31)
by codemonkey_uk on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:20:27 AM EST

No one is infallable,
therfore, you cannot have 100% certanty of guilt,
therfore there is always a chance that someone found guilty is actually innocent,
therfore, as killing an innocent is always unacceptable, and there is always a chance that those found guilty are innocent, it is always unacceptable to kill as punishement.
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
Tricky to argue against...but... (3.00 / 4) (#35)
by theboz on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:27:07 AM EST

What about when they make a confession? I'm not talking about where the police bribes them to do it, but when the accused says in the courtroom, "Yes, I murdered old Mr. Barbary, and I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for those kids and their lousy dog!" (Sorry, trying to interject a small amount of humor to keep it somewhat friendly.) I think in such cases, there is a clear proof that the murder was committed. Or perhaps with all the survellance equipment being put up so the police can watch us at stoplights and in parks and such, or with the cameras that have been in banks for years, we can have video proof of the crime. There are always other remote possibilities, such as "it was my twin brother that noone, including my mother, knows about" or "It was someone wearing a mask that looked like me." There are some cases where we have what we can consider absolutely that a person is guilty. Also, from the movies I've saw and the stories I've heard, death would be better than prison for life.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Rebutt (4.33 / 3) (#42)
by codemonkey_uk on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:55:35 AM EST

As the Spanish Inquisision prooves, a confesion of guilt can be extracted, even when the punishment for guilt is death.

In a court room, many a man would confess, and condem themselves to death to protect their loved ones, be it from the police, or the mob, whoever they may be.

The insane will, and do, confess to crimes they did not commit, because they are mad.

Video evendence can be falsified.

(attempts to keep things friendly are good. it was appreciated)
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

Rebuttocks (none / 0) (#65)
by Rocky on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 03:33:52 PM EST

> The insane will, and do, confess to crimes they did not commit, because they are mad.

Well, they won't know they're being executed, will they?

"Tell 'em it's Pirates of the Caribbean! Yo ho ho!"



If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
[ Parent ]
Hoo boy... (3.00 / 3) (#36)
by pb on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:28:51 AM EST

No one wants their kids to be murdered and raped. Just remember Jon Venables and Robert Thompson are someone's kids as well.

The law exists to protect us all, especially from people who would take the law into their own hands. Otherwise, we would have blood feuds and we would divide our families into clans and armed camps.

Also, I don't know about you, but I couldn't condemn a 10-year-old for life for just about any crime. You'd first have to convince me that behind that 10-year-old lurks a maniacal, cold-blooded killer who understands the consequences of all his actions, can never be rehabilitated, and chooses to be evil, and that would take a lot of convincing. I've heard about enough people who have accidentally killed animals just because they didn't know any better; nowadays, I wouldn't be surprised if that happened with people as well. ("I saw it on TV; sure, he got shot, but that doesn't mean he'd die from it...")
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
wrong? wrong (2.66 / 3) (#37)
by motty on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:29:30 AM EST

if a person you cared about was murdered because they had themselves murdered someone that their murderer cared about, what would your reaction be then? if you murdered the murderer anyway, would you then kill yourself, on the basis that "there is no place for murderers". or would you wait for a revenge killing from one of their friends.

or are you making a subtle distinction between 'killing' and 'murder' that i am not understanding here?
s/^.*$//sig;#)
[ Parent ]

Killing vs. Murder (4.33 / 3) (#39)
by theboz on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:45:00 AM EST

Yes, in my opinion there is a subtle difference in the two words. Murder is a form of killing, however killing is not always murder. When you are pulling up weeds from your lawn, you are killing them. That isn't murdering. When a cow is killed to make your hamburger, it is being killed for food, not murder. Murder is killing that is completely detrimental and without a just cause. In the example of war, it is a fine line. You can be killing to protect yourself or others, but at the same time, the advancing army could be killing because you stole the land from them. That makes it somewhat more of a gray area.

However, in this case...there was no good reason for these two to kill the kid. Also, it benefits noone that they did this. I hope that this kinda explains the difference, at least in my mind, between killing and murder.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

The deterrence of public executions is nonsense (3.50 / 2) (#38)
by Gorgonzola on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:33:35 AM EST

Come on, there is no evidence whatsoever that the public executions of the past had any deterring effect. Protestants were burned at the stake by the Spanish inquisition, did that stop the northern parts of Europe from becoming protestant?
--
A page a day keeps ignorance of our cultural past away, or you can do your bit for collaborative media even if you haven't anything new or insightful to say.

[ Parent ]
A reason for lynch mobs (4.00 / 2) (#40)
by DoubleEdd on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:50:26 AM EST

There is no reason for lynch mobs. Any supposed reason to form a lynch mob is in fact a reason to write to your MP, protest peacefully and vote for someone who will change the law. There are very good reasons for not supporting mob justice.

I'm no hippie and I'm no Christian, although it happens that I don't support the death penalty and so on. I don't know what I do support in terms of sentencing length, but I definitely know that I support the law and the process by which society finds justice in the legal system.

The law has decided that they have done their punishment. If we aren't happy with that, we change the law. We don't circumvent it.

I don't feel that killing someone else makes for a better justice than locking someone up for the rest of their lives. Its simply fallacious and insulting of you to claim that I might as well have killed Jamie, if I don't support killing his murderers.

Oh, and if someone killed someone I cared about, I'd probably try to exact lethal revenge, but I don't think that would be justice. That would be me insanely angry and hurt. And irrational.

[ Parent ]

What?! (4.00 / 3) (#45)
by tzanger on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 12:26:40 PM EST

I guarantee you that if a person I cared about was murdered and they knew exactly who did it, I would have that person killed. There is no place for murderers, and the fact that we live in a society that has a love affair with criminals is sickening.

So let me get this straight... Murder is wrong, unless it is for retribution? I think it's you who has some deep-seated psychological problems which need to be discussed with your nearest psychologist.

I have a 14 month old daughter whom I would do absolutely anything for. The very thought of her being harmed, much less killed, is dampening my eyes as I write this. I would probably go into a murderous rage if I knew exactly who her killer was but I certainly would not premeditate a murder of that person. I'm bigger and I'm stronger than that. It would by no means be easy to forgive and I'm not even sure if I could, but the old adage of "an eye for an eye" simply doesn't work.



[ Parent ]
You must know something we don't... (4.50 / 2) (#49)
by Mr Tom on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 12:47:21 PM EST

> These two monsters deserve to be punished for their crimes.

As they have been - 8 years inside is a long time. Especially if that period is your childhood and adolescence. And the judiciary have decided that this is a long enough period of punishment. I'd agree with them, since they are going to be the only people with any in-depth knowledge of the two young men concerned.

> If they show any remorse, it is only because they were caught not because they are murderers.

Maybe. But that's a judgement I'll leave up to the psychiatrists, social workers, and other /professional/ opinions.

> The only solution that is just is to execute them.

No. That's one solution. And since they've not committed the crime of High Treason, or Arson in a Naval dockyard(Which are the only 2 capital offences remaining in the UK IIRC, but IANAL), it would be an innapropriate one.

The judiciary say that they've been punished, they regret their crime, and that they pose no danger to society. In the absence of any other /considered/ /opinion/ (as opposed to conjecture, of which there's plenty) they should be released.

Anonymity?

The father of James Bulger has gone on record to say that he would hunt down and kill these two young men. That's understandable, but also illegal. And I'm sure he's not the only other person with that stance. Without giving the released murderers anonymity, they will die. Of this I have no doubt. And then another 2 crimes have been committed, more parents lose their sons, more killers in jail, and the cycle turns...

In a modern, civilised society, there should be no need for anonymity. Sadly, we're not there yet, as the fact that this case even exists in the frst place proves.


-- Mr_Tom<at>gmx.co.uk

I am a consultant. My job is to make your job redundant.
[ Parent ]

Side Note (4.00 / 1) (#56)
by pwhysall on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 01:38:55 PM EST

Arson in a naval dockyard ceased to be a capital offence in 1974.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Capital punishment in the UK (none / 0) (#114)
by spiralx on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 05:20:39 AM EST

The Murder (Abolition of the Death Penalty) Act of 1965 suspended the death penalty for murder in the UK for five years, and in 1969 MPs voted to permanently abolish the death sentance. However until the Crime and Disorder Act of 1998 capital punishment was still legal for treason and piracy with violence.

See this page for a more detailed history of capital punishment in the UK.

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Right (4.50 / 2) (#60)
by eLuddite on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 02:03:27 PM EST

There is a reason for the "lynch mobs" as you call it.

You are confused. Justice is above vengeance and never served by it.

I guarantee you that if a person I cared about was murdered and they knew exactly who did it, I would have that person killed.

Well, arent you the perfect candidate for some inmate's future wife.

Public executions were a big deterrent to crime,

That's because everyone in the community actually witnessed them. This is is still the case in many parts of the world where, coincidentally (not), crime rates are low. I think it's a mistake to execute people in relative anonymity because that anonymity does not adequately convey, in a visceral, impossible to misunderstand manner, how criminal behavior has consequences for both the criminal _and_ society. Most of us would not volunteer to be executioners, after all.

I would not be against capital punishment if it was at least televised.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

um... ok... (3.50 / 2) (#75)
by delmoi on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 05:47:47 PM EST

...I would have that person killed. There is no place for murderers...


--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Value of retribution? (5.00 / 1) (#141)
by blair on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 10:42:04 PM EST

I guarantee you that if a person I cared about was murdered and they knew exactly who did it, I would have that person killed. There is no place for murderers, and the fact that we live in a society that has a love affair with criminals is sickening. The court system does not provide justice anymore. It's just a ceremonial waste of time.

This is how I thought until I found myself in these circumstances. I used to be extremely pro-death penalty. And, if someone I knew happened to be murdered, I was certain that I'd want to be the executor myself.

Roughly six years ago now, however, an uncle of mine who I was very close to (he was sort of a father figure to me) was murdered. He owned a small store in an area of Minneapolis that wasn't the best. One morning he went to open his store and within an hour, a customer had found him with a gunshot wound that had been fatal.

At that point I was vehemently pro-death penalty and this had only agitated me further to support such punishments. I spent quite a bit of time at my aunt's house (his wife) immediately after this incident. At one point, someone asked my aunt if she would want the murdered killed if he was caught. She didn't even think about it. To paraphrase: "Why would I want to ruin someone else's life? And what would matter? My husband would still be dead; how could having someone else killed improve anything?"

That was a very defining moment for me. Undoubtably much of my transformation was due to the emotion of the moment, but nonetheless, to this day I have yet to see the benefit of capital punishment. Vindictive retribution, while tempting, doesn't help in my opinion. It doesn't undo the harm that has been done and in addition, it may very well ruin the lives of others as well, whether innocents falsely accused or the family of those accused. If someone commits a crime such as murder, send them to jail, etc., but don't kill them. I can't condone inviduals killing (or harming) one another; why should it be different if it is the government that is doing the killing?

As an aside: Minnesota hasn't had the death penalty since around the time of World War I if I remember correctly. Also, my uncle's murdered was never found.



[ Parent ]
side comment.. (2.52 / 19) (#24)
by rebelcool on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 10:37:11 AM EST

see, this proves that its not just america that has troubled kids.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Tried as Adults? (3.40 / 10) (#25)
by gauntlet on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 10:37:25 AM EST

I'm sorry. It's obviously horrible what happened to the poor child that was killed. But how can you justify trying 11 year old children that suck their thumbs as adults?

Unparalleled evil? In a 10 year old? I have trouble believing that a 10 year old child quite understands what murder IS, much less why it's wrong. And I don't believe that a 10 year old child, particularly one so obviously disturbed, can be attributed with the strength of will that I would associate with "Unparalleled evil."

What the hell good does it do to put these children in jail? Where the hell would you put them? I'm simply flabbergasted. I didn't think that the Canadian legal system was that different from the UK, but the thought of 11 year olds being tried as adults for a crime committed when they were 10, even murder, is unfathomable.

For anyone that knows, how did the legal system in the UK justify trying them as adults? Just because at the age of 10 they had achieved a level of psychopathy usually reserved for adults?

Into Canadian Politics?

Funny (2.75 / 4) (#27)
by evro on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 10:45:29 AM EST

But how can you justify trying 11 year old children that suck their thumbs as adults?

Man, it truly is funny how different people's points of view can be on an issue. For example, you don't see how they can even try these kids as adults whereas I feel they should be executed. If they did not receive a fair trial then that is another matter, but if it is determined that they really did commit this act then I see no reason why they should have any right to live. Life in a maximum security prison would suffice however, as I hear they do not take kindly to those who commit crimes against children there.

IMO, if you commit an adult crime, you should face an adult punishment.
---
"Asking me who to follow -- don't ask me, I don't know!"
[ Parent ]

Adult crime? (2.00 / 1) (#41)
by sethmr on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:51:14 AM EST

As opposed to a juvenile crime? What, exactly, is an adult crime?

Seth

[ Parent ]
Adult crime (2.00 / 1) (#46)
by tzanger on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 12:31:35 PM EST

As opposed to a juvenile crime? What, exactly, is an adult crime?

Adult crime requires parental guidance in order to view. :-)



[ Parent ]
Adult crime (none / 0) (#52)
by sethmr on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 12:54:26 PM EST

But wouldn't those be R rated crimes or maybe PG13.



[ Parent ]
re: (none / 0) (#142)
by evro on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 03:56:08 AM EST

An adult crime, to me, is one like murder or rape; not the type of thing one normally expects from a child (though we shouldn't really expect it from an adult, but it happens). Maybe "violent crime" is a more appropriate label.
---
"Asking me who to follow -- don't ask me, I don't know!"
[ Parent ]
Strength (3.25 / 4) (#29)
by davidduncanscott on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:01:46 AM EST

I have trouble believing that a 10 year old child quite understands what murder IS, much less why it's wrong.

Come on now. Think back to around the 4th grade. Were you beating toddlers to death?

As for strength of will, I don't know. I'd guess that killing somebody that way would take some strength of both will and arm. Surely there were tears and screams, blood and moaning, and yet they apparently soldiered on regardless.

[ Parent ]

No but... (3.66 / 3) (#34)
by codemonkey_uk on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:24:15 AM EST

At a similar age I threw a rock at somone (I missed and smashed a plate glass window), big enough to cave their head in. Something I still feel guilt over.

Does that make me evil?
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

Maybe (or not) (4.66 / 3) (#54)
by davidduncanscott on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 01:09:42 PM EST

He was kicked and punched as his tormentors led him more than two miles to a railway bank where they beat him to death with bricks and an iron bar.

Had your rock struck home, perhaps you would have killed somebody (perhaps not -- heads don't smash as easily as windows). Both law and common morality make some distinction between an act of momentary anger or stupidity and deliberate murder.

Did you go get the rock and throw it again? Did you perhaps grasp the rock and bring it down repeatedly? Did you get a friend to help you? How about taking the victim somewhere where you wouldn't be seen?

Whatever this was, it was not a prank gone wrong, or a mistake, or even an act of anger. It was something else, something quite horrible and yes, evil.

[ Parent ]

And the parents? (3.12 / 8) (#33)
by theboz on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:21:43 AM EST

Their parents are as guilty as the children are, if not more. Anyone who can raise these monsters deserves whatever the maximum punishment would be as well. Perhaps if the parents were tried as accomplices at least, it would wake up the lazy parents that don't raise their children. I think it would help all around because the parents would have to do their job, and the kids would turn out better. I do disagree with your assumptions that we shouldn't really be punishing these two though,

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

I think you must have missed your childhood. (4.50 / 2) (#48)
by tzanger on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 12:40:28 PM EST

When I was a youngster I did all kinds of dangerous and possibly fatal things which my parents don't know about. I'm sure everyone has stories like mine. Were my parents evil? Not at all. Parents, like yourself, are human and therefore not capable of omnicience and omnipotence. Even when grouped in pairs.

My four year old and my 14 month old will do things I don't ever want them to. My son will beat up my daughter and my daughter will exact her vengance in her own ways. You raise them as best you can and hopefully instill enough self-conscience and confidence in them so they are able to make good decisions on their own, and hopefully the wars waged between them will, similar to my own battles with my younger brother, teach them that it hurts to get beat up and that the feelings they feel inside are also felt by others.

Now I am not totally up on the case with these particular two boys but personally I feel that Britian as a country has done them and themselves (the boys and the country) a huge disservice by baying about and having all the press coverage. Yes these boys did something horrible but was Britian's reaction any better at all?

(back to parenting) - If you feel that parents are able to totally control their children I pray you become a parent of at least a couple of children and write a book on how to do it properly. While it's hard to prove, some kids are just genetically messed up and are incapable of being "normal." The vast, vast majority, however, have environmental issues which need to be worked out and this is the parent's responsibility.



[ Parent ]
This was an extreme example... (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by theboz on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 02:58:47 PM EST

In this example I believe it was shown that the boys came from an abusive home. A lot of criminals do in fact. Either they are physically or mentally abused as children. Now, of course kids are going to disobey their parents. I don't think doing little things like hitting a sibling or trying to steal gum from the store or something like that is nearly as bad as murder. I don't know if this is the case or not but if so, these are the boys that tortured another kid. They put batteries up his ass and then put him on the tracks in front of a train. They didn't even know the kid they did this to. When your children fight, they know each other and are probably fed up with each other and only know how to resolve the conflict by hitting. Even then, they won't try to kill each other because even though they are made they don't completely hate each other. This was a different case all the way.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

I'm not disputing that... (none / 0) (#64)
by tzanger on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 03:10:10 PM EST

In this example I believe it was shown that the boys came from an abusive home. A lot of criminals do in fact. Either they are physically or mentally abused as children.

I'm not disputing that... Perhaps I read your original comment incorrectly but I thought you had stated that you wanted to see parents (in general) held accountable for when children do things like this (in general).

If parents abuse their kids, they should be removed from their children and punished severely. Beaten themselves, perhaps. Parents (adults in general) have no right whatsoever to beat children. Discipline yes but there is a VERY sharp, clear line there (at least in my mind.)



[ Parent ]
Parents are culpable for extremely vicious kids. (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by marlowe on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 05:57:05 PM EST

The most vicious and/or larcenous children I have known all had parents that exhibited similar traits.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
My reply to the chain email (3.85 / 7) (#28)
by lpontiac on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 10:52:29 AM EST

I received that email petition and sent a reply after it. Copied and pasted here.
-----

Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2001 11:54:09 +0800 (WST)
From: Andrew Francis <locust@iinet.net.au>
Subject: Re: your mail


Interesting that this piece should conclude with "if they could do this at
10, imagine what they could do as adults?" Let's keep in mind that they
were 10 at the time, and they're now 17. They've been in jail for more
than half of the time since they learnt to talk.

Yes, what they did was an act of unspeakable cruelty, but ask yourself,
what was their motivation, their intent? And how long do you want them to
waste away in jail for? For life? For something they did when they were
*10*?

Children generally don't think in terms of permanent consequences, and
they lack morality aside from that which is pushed onto them on a daily
basis. What they did, in my view, bears more of a resemblance to a kid
pulling legs off an insect than an adult viciously murdering a person.

Lock them up to reform them, lock them up for the safety of society, even
lock them up to "teach them a lesson." But don't lock them up forever for
acting like kids.


--
Andrew Francis
locust@iinet.net.au


On Tue, 23 Jan 2001, ANON wrote:

> Please do not ignore this email.
>
> On February 12, 1993 a small boy who was to turn three
> on March was
> taken
> from a shopping mall in Liverpool by two 10 year old
> boys. Jamie Bulger
> walked away from his mother for only a second and Jon
> Venables took his
> hand
> and led him out of the mall with his friend Robert
> Thompson.
>
> They took Jamie on a walk for over 2 and a half miles,
> along the way
> stopping every now and again to torture the poor
> little boy who was
> crying
> constantly for his mummy. Finally they stopped at a
> railway track where
> they
> brutally kicked him and threw stones at him and rubbed
> paint in his
> eyes and
> pushed batteries up his anus. They then left his
> beaten small body on
> the
> tracks so a train could run him over to hide the mess
> they had
> created.
>
> These two boys, even being boys understood what they
> did was wrong,
> hence
> trying to make it look like an accident.
>
> This week Lady Justice Butler-Sloss has awarded the
> two boys anonymity
> for
> the rest of their lives when they leave custody with
> new identities. We
> cannot let this happen. They will also leave early
> this year only
> serving
> just over half of their sentence. One paper even
> stated that Robert may
> go
> on to University.
>
> They are getting away with their crime. They need to
> pay, and we have
> to do
> something to make them pay for their horrific crime.
> They took Jamie's
> life
> violently away, and in return they get a new life.
>
> Please add your name and location to the list and
> forward to friends
> and
> family. Please copy this email instead of forwarding
> so we do not get
> at the
> beginning of sentences.
>
> If you are the 200th person to sign please forward
> this email to -
> cust.ser.cs@gtnet.gov.uk
> <mailto:cust.ser.cs@gtnet.gov.uk> -
> attentioning
> it to Lady Justice Butler-Sloss.
>
> Then start the list over again and sent to your
> friends and family.
> The
> Love-Bug virus took less that 72 hours to reach the
> world. I hope this
> one
> does too. We need to protect our family and friends
> from creatures
> like
> Robert and Jon. One day they may be living next to you
> and your small
> children without your knowledge.
>
> If Robert and Jon could be so evil at 10, imagine what
> they could do as
> adults?





The mob is not a court! (3.12 / 8) (#43)
by drquick on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:57:52 AM EST

They have a right to be convicted and punished by *legal* authorities, not a street mob. That's why they must be protected from the public. Anonymity is quite right!

Vigilance Committees (none / 0) (#83)
by Brandybuck on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 07:56:42 PM EST

Since all legal authority derives from the people, and the people retain the right to replace the legal authority, then a vigilance committee is indeed a legal authority.

[ Parent ]
Vigilante Committee (5.00 / 1) (#105)
by Maclir on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 12:44:23 AM EST

Since all legal authority derives from the people, and the people retain the right to replace the legal authority, then a vigilance committee is indeed a legal authority.
Ummm. . . now just how do you draw that conclusion? Does that mean "the people" have the right to overthrow the legally elected government by some process other than that prescribed by law or the Constution? So, if you don't like what a legally constituted agency of your Government has done, you are justified in overthrowing it?

Why does the phrase "mob rule" come to mind?

[ Parent ]

mob rule (none / 0) (#107)
by dice on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 01:14:53 AM EST

maybe you didn't notice this before, but democracy is by definition mob rule.

[ Parent ]
Mob Rule (none / 0) (#156)
by Maclir on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 01:32:51 AM EST

I would have preferred the definition "majority rule", mob rule has some very negative conotations. Once being that the "mob" may not, in fact, constitute a majority. Of course, pundits may claim that even some democracies cannot claim "majority rule" (does the term "presidential college" spring to mind?).

I take your point, however, that in many democracies, particularly where voting is not compulsory, and there are no run off elections, or there are other mechanisms that could be seen to go against the democratic ideals of "one person / one vote", the results are often carried by the active minority that is sufficiently mobilised to carry the day. Whether this could be called a "mob" depends upon what side of the fence you are sitting on.

[ Parent ]

Vigilance Committees (4.00 / 1) (#152)
by ethereal on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 12:09:09 PM EST

I think the difference is that a vigilante group does not represent all people, and so does not have the legal authority of the government which theoretically represents all people. If the people really wanted those kids lynched, they'd vote in a bunch of representatives who favored lynching, vote in judges that would approve (although I'm not sure - are judges elected in England? Are they appointed?), etc. Sure, this is a little bit of an exaggeration, but really vigilante justice is only representative of the vigilantes who show up at the lynching.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

It's not about kids, it's about societies (4.50 / 28) (#44)
by magullo on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 12:02:36 PM EST

Let's not forget that the kids went for a 2.5 m mile walk - out of a mall, into the street, etc.

Apparently the victim was crying at all times. Apparently several people chose not to interfere. Apparently at around the same time of this accident another British woman was kidnapped at random, put into a train and finally raped, or killed, or both. Again, she was very outspoken throughout her ordeal, asking for help on trains, etc. Nobody moved a finger.

Apparently it's easier to exorcise our own demons by placing (or debating about placing) two tremendously young kids in prison for life.

For what purpose, I ask? I doubt that there can be an ethical explanation to trying 2 10-year olds as adults and then throwing them in prison. But even if we overlook that "small" detail, what is the message we are sending here? It's ok to torture and murder someone as long as you don't get caught? No adults stopped them, right? They only got in trouble after the police was involved.

Crime deterrence through jail terms is something only the (booming) prison industry believes. But specially when it comes to kids, it's borderline ridiculous. Every kid know that if you kill or hurt somebody you'll go to jail. How many 10-year-olds really understand the implications?

Even if you don't believe in criminal rehabilitation, tell me how locking a person up in a maximum security jail for life without parole is beneficial to society, except maybe in some extreme repeat cases which generally look like they could be better handled at an asylum. It costs money and potentially puts people at risk, since the prisoners have a lifetime to figure out how to break free and nothing much to lose by doing so. As in Texas these past weeks.

And for the people who wouldn't mind meeting these fellows in a obscure alley some day, well - what you are thinking is simply against the law. Like it or not.

In other words, brutal societies breed brutal people. We can kid ourselves by blaming the symptoms and punishing our children or we can work out the causes. If you want to call me idealist, please read the posts about Trodheim bellow. And then shut up. It can be done, but it's not easy. And above all, it's not as simple as: "to hell with 'em".

Bravo!! (3.00 / 3) (#53)
by Signal 11 on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 01:06:16 PM EST

Bravo, excellent post. You've cut right to the heart of the matter and done so with precision and style - I commend you.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]
prison (4.66 / 3) (#61)
by SEAL on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 02:26:28 PM EST

Even if you don't believe in criminal rehabilitation, tell me how locking a person up in a maximum security jail for life without parole is beneficial to society, except maybe in some extreme repeat cases which generally look like they could be better handled at an asylum. It costs money and potentially puts people at risk, since the prisoners have a lifetime to figure out how to break free and nothing much to lose by doing so. As in Texas these past weeks.

This is just my opinion, but I believe long prison terms are sometimes justified. It's beneficial when the person in question is proven dangerous (i.e. repeat violent offenders). The low chance for rehabilitation is outweighed by the need to protect the public -- especially if the criminal has been through a rehabilitation program already.

Also, in the case of the U.S., our criminal justice system usually makes it ridiculously expensive to put a criminal to death. Don't get me wrong - this is a good thing. But jailing someone for life is often less expensive than the whole death row process with the seemingly neverending appeals.

- SEAL

It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
[ Parent ]

The MYOB mentality (4.33 / 3) (#62)
by marlowe on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 02:27:41 PM EST

It first became infamous with the Kitty Genovese case. But for some reason we can't get rid of the notion that we should all let strangers carry on their own private business, no matter how fishy it looks. Maybe because it's such an attractive way to abdicate responsibility.

We throw up smokescreen words like "privacy" and "tolerance" to hide the real issues, namely cowardice and atomization. We all hunger for community, but are unwilling to pay the price.

I try hard NOT to mind my own damn business.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Prison - punishing criminals or protecting society (5.00 / 2) (#73)
by spart on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 05:19:48 PM EST

IMNSHO Prison should should not be about "punishing" the criminal. It should be about removing them from society. They breached the rules we've established for an ordered society - so they no longer can function within said society!

It is simple: You break rule A) then you are removed from society. They broke rule A) so they should be removed from society! There should be NO mitigating factors here!

[ Parent ]
I think they deserve every mobbing they get. (2.27 / 11) (#47)
by bsdave on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 12:38:46 PM EST

This is just plain stupid.

These kids were 10, 10 is old enough to know what's right and wrong. No matter what your upbringing is, especially for something as obviously horrible as torture and murder.

It wasn't something 'quick' either, if they tossed him onto a busy road or stabbed him, they wouldn't of had time for remorse and reversing there decision.

However dragging a 2 year old boy 2.5 miles, while periodically torturing him and then leaving his corpse on a train track? It's disgusting!

Eventually, they will be 'found out', being anonymous can't last forever. And I sincerely hope it doesn't, they deserve every mob beating they receive.

And oh, Mr British Empire, cancel your plans about sending them to Australia. We stopped being a penal colony well over 100 years ago now.


--
Daaave

10 is old enough? (4.00 / 3) (#51)
by baberg on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 12:49:37 PM EST

Let's take your premise that 10 is old enough. What if they're going to turn 10 tomorrow? So, they're technically 9 and 364/365. That's not 10, so they're going to be treated as children. What's that you say? An age around 10 is close enough? How close? 2 is close to 10, in astronomical terms...

It's a tough decision, and here in the USA, we've decided that the cut-off point it 18. Once you turn 18, you're responsible for your own crimes. But wait... sometimes, underage kids (16 or so) are "tried as adults", meaning they can get the same horrible sentences.

It's an impossible line to draw, the line between childhood and adulthood, in my opinion. But there has to be some cut-off point, and I think that 10 years old is just a bit too early to begin taking full responsibliity for their actions.

Don't get me wrong. I want to see these two people brutally punished for what they have done. I want them to be dragged 2.5 miles, beaten, and then left for dead on a pair of train tracks. But that's not what counts. The law counts. It's the same way with NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association, I think... they have sex with boys). I think they should have their gonads chopped off, stuffed down their throat, then crucified in the most painful way possible. But they have the right to say and do whatever they want.

These two should be punished. They will be punished. The fact that they are not being punished harshly enough to me is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the law has spoken. Perhaps we should (if we lived in the U.K.) lobby for a change of legislation. But there's nothing we can do about it. There's a huge difference between feelings and law.

[ Parent ]

I see where your coming from, however.. (none / 0) (#113)
by bsdave on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 05:18:14 AM EST

I can see where you're coming from, however I wasn't saying that because they were 10 they were suddenly wise enough to realise the difference between right and wrong.

What I meant to point out was, the by the time they reached 10, they should of known already. For quite some time too.

People learn what's right and wrong through different experiences. Sure, because they had a 'tough' upbringing may have played a (rather small) factor.

However they still would of had at least one experience, I mean, whatever happened to stories with morals and Abel's fables?
--
Daaave

[ Parent ]

Agreed... (none / 0) (#144)
by baberg on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 09:45:33 AM EST

Agreed, they should have known the difference. But that's more of a personal opinion. I was talking more about how the law would look at them. When a person is 10, they should know that torturing and killing a small child is wrong. However, the consequences might not be known.

It's a difference between what a person should know and how much other people think they should know. I feel like I'm not coming off right, because I just can't find the words to distinguish between the two... Let's try again.

Just because they should know better doesn't mean that we should expect them to know better. I would be willing to say that any well brought-up 10 year old should know that any number of things is wrong. However, I don't expect all 10 year olds to know that X is wrong.

I'm not usually this poor with words, really... Maybe I'm just tired. Anyways, I hope my point has gotten through in some way, shape, or form.

[ Parent ]

There is no such thing as innocence in children (4.30 / 10) (#50)
by 0xdeadbeef on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 12:49:35 PM EST

I really don't understand the sensationalist reaction to this. Recently in my state an child (12, I believe) was murdered by a bully after he got off of the school bus. The bully struck him once in the back of the neck and by a freak chance it killed him. Even more recently, a teenager (15 or 16) was murdered by another teen by putting him in a headlock until he asphyxiated. In both cases, the murders were considered "accidents", as the bullies did not intend to kill their victims.

What infuriates me is that you couldn't be believe the number people who expressed sympathies for the families involved, of the victims and of their murderers. "It was an accident" or "it was just kids being kids" were common justifications made by people quoted in the media for giving these murderers light sentences. I have little doubt that these same people would have wanted blood if the victims were toddlers, but we are expected to accept that bullying is tolerable, and that death as a result of it is an accidental tragedy.

Every child, at least male child, has a perverse fascination with torture at some point. Someone has already likened this to pulling wings off bugs, and I'm sure it was the exact same mental triggers being satisfied when they mudered the toddler. Their evil was that of an indifference to suffering, the inability to empathize with the child, as if the child were a bug.

The bully, however, commits violence not out of curiosity, but out of a desire for power. We all know that this is the source of the most destructive evil in the world, but for some reason we excuse it in children. It is so widespread it is considered normal, even though the capacity for murder and suffering is still there. It seems evil in a child is OK if it fits a normal pattern, but that if that child deviates from that pattern he is a monster.

Whoa (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by skim123 on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 04:02:49 PM EST

What infuriates me is that you couldn't be believe the number people who expressed sympathies for the families involved, of the victims and of their murderers. "It was an accident" or "it was just kids being kids" were common justifications made by people quoted in the media for giving these murderers light sentences. I have little doubt that these same people would have wanted blood if the victims were toddlers, but we are expected to accept that bullying is tolerable, and that death as a result of it is an accidental tragedy

There's a big difference between a 16 year old putting another 16 year old in a headlock and a 16 year old putting a 2 year old in a headlock. There is a big difference between a 16 year old putting a 16 year old in a headlock and a 16 year old beating anyone with bricks and iron bars.

I had my younger brother in a number of headlocks when we were both a bit younger. Thank God there were never any serious injuries, but, again, I reiterate the big differences between same-age bullying/same-age roughhousing/rough housing and bulling in gerenal and sadistically beating a toddler to death. Hence, due to these differences, I view the difference in people's reactions to be rational and justifiable.

Their evil was that of an indifference to suffering, the inability to empathize with the child, as if the child were a bug

You'd hope they'd immediately begin to empathize when the child began to scream and cry. What kind of animals did you torture as a child. Personally, I remember fucking with bugs and small mammals and reptiles (mice, turtles, etc.). While this was curiosity, I think I wouldn't have been able to "experiment" with more advanced animals that could clearly identify their pain. Could you poke and prod an animal that bellowed in pain, or was able to look you in the eye?

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: Whoa (4.00 / 1) (#78)
by z on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 06:16:39 PM EST

There's a big difference between a 16 year old putting another 16 year old in a headlock and a 16 year old putting a 2 year old in a headlock.

In this case the bully was big enough to hold his victim long enough to kill him. Just what is that big difference you're talking about? Are 16 year olds expendable?

There is a big difference between a 16 year old putting a 16 year old in a headlock and a 16 year old beating anyone with bricks and iron bars.

Putting the victim in a headlock was enough to kill him. Beating someone with bricks and iron bars could injure them and possibly kill them. What's the big difference in this case?

Thank God there were never any serious injuries, but, again, I reiterate the big differences between same-age bullying/same-age roughhousing/rough housing and bulling in gerenal and sadistically beating a toddler to death. Hence, due to these differences, I view the difference in people's reactions to be rational and justifiable.

It is one of the pathetic characteristics of human nature to consider some people as acceptable victims of violence due to some arbitrary group characteristic. Thus, you have "gay-bashing"s, etc. Bullying or sadistically beating someone, whether the victim is the same age as the assailant or is a toddler and whether the victim dies or is injured, should not be acceptable no matter who the victim is.

[ Parent ]

Let's take it to extremes (none / 0) (#80)
by skim123 on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 07:20:31 PM EST

Putting the victim in a headlock was enough to kill him. Beating someone with bricks and iron bars could injure them and possibly kill them. What's the big difference in this case?

Shooting someone could injure and kill them to. Are you saying putting someone in a headlock is morally and should be legally equivalent to shooting someone?

It is one of the pathetic characteristics of human nature to consider some people as acceptable victims of violence due to some arbitrary group characteristic

I never said it was "acceptable." I just view a major difference between the two. If I get in a fistfight with someone my age (early 20s) that is not "acceptable," but I view that as less of a moral and legal sin than getting in a fistfight with a octogenarian, or quadrapalegic. Is it "acceptable" for soldiers to shoot one another? No, I don't think so. But I see a big difference between a solider shooting another soldier and a soldier shooting an unarmed villager. Do you?

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Violence is inexcusable (none / 0) (#101)
by 0xdeadbeef on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:39:26 PM EST

Shooting someone could injure and kill them to. Are you saying putting someone in a headlock is morally and should be legally equivalent to shooting someone?
If there was malicious intent in that headlock, and it results in the death of the victim, then yes, they are morally equivalent acts. We treat inadvertent murder committed during a robbery just as harshly as that which is premeditated. I don't see any reason why one whose goal is strictly intimidation should be treated any differently. A violent act is a violent act; there is no accident.

[ Parent ]
No we don't (none / 0) (#104)
by skim123 on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 12:23:31 AM EST

We treat inadvertent murder committed during a robbery just as harshly as that which is premeditated

Hardly. Not being incarcerated ever, I have no first hand experience, but I've read in newspapers and seen on TV cases where people who killed someone in the heat of the moment received incredibly less jail time than someone who systemmatically planned out a murder. For example, if you are in a heated fight with your wife and push her down the stairs, killing her, I guarantee you that here, in the States, you will receive a much lesser sentence than if you spend a couple weeks concocting a plan and kill her ruthlessly. Big difference there.

A violent act is a violent act; there is no accident

This is preposterous. If I punch someone in anger, and the punch inadvertently lands on their throat, crushing their windpipe and killing them, that is as bad as if I stealthfully followed some person home, broke into their home and cut them into little pieces with a knife? Come on now, think rationally here. You remind me of someone who would say, "Stealing is wrong no matter what," or "Lying is wrong no matter what." Hate to burst your bubble, but the world ain't black and white, there are many shades of gray.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Choices are binary: do, or do not (1.00 / 1) (#106)
by 0xdeadbeef on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 01:05:17 AM EST

I used robbery as my example, not a "heat of the moment" killing. The rationale is that one committing an armed robbery has put others in mortal danger, even if the weapon is indended only for intimidation. The robbery and the use of a weapon is certainly premeditated.

'Badness' hardly matters to the one dead. The intention is different, and I certainly consider the premeditated murder the more evil act, but the fact is violence must have consequences, regardless of the intention, or you might as well not punish at all. This lax attitude, this double standard regarding violence, is exactly what prompted me to write my first post to this story. There is no excuse for initiating violence, I don't care what the intention.

I will make allowances for age and state of mind, but the difference between "I wanted to scare him", "I wanted to hurt him" and "I wanted to kill him" is not a difference at all. They all indicate that the individual is incapable of recognizing the rights of others, and they all show that the individual is willing to risk (if not take) the lives of others to satisfy childish and animalistic whims. Punish them on a scale, but punish them all, without excuses.

[ Parent ]

Urrr.... no. (none / 0) (#109)
by skim123 on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 02:44:21 AM EST

The intention is different, and I certainly consider the premeditated murder the more evil act, but the fact is violence must have consequences, regardless of the intention, or you might as well not punish at all.

Granted, but violence must have CORRECT consequences. Quite obviously, if I punch you in the face I shouldn't be punished the same as if I premeditatedly strangled you, dissected your carcass, and ate your decomposing flesh. Correct? Now, what if my intent is to just punch you, and I do just punch you, but my punch kills you. Should I be punished the same as if I premeditatedly strangled you, dissected your carcass, and ate your decomposing flesh? I don't think so.

I'm not saying violence is good or right or justified. I just know it's insane to apply the same level of justice when the crimes differ so greatly. Yes, violence was committed in both examples that I provided above, and both resulted in death, but one act intended death and carcass eating - the other intended, at most, a bloody nose. Granted, the both ended in death, but if you don't agree that there is a huge difference... well, let me just say that I'm glad you're not the one making the laws!

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: Urrr.... no. (none / 0) (#130)
by z on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 01:14:47 PM EST

Yes, violence was committed in both examples that I provided above, and both resulted in death, but one act intended death and carcass eating - the other intended, at most, a bloody nose.

It would be more accurate to say that the latter intended, at least, a bloody nose.

I am not sure whether it is really the best approach, but people may be jailed if their drunk driving lead to death of other people. In this case there is no intention to cause even a bloody nose, but a willingness to risk doing so.

I would agree that the assault that was intended to cause death should be dealt with more harshly than punching someone and having it unexpectedly cause death. Nevertheless, the punch in the face was a deliberate act of violence intended to cause harm and done without consideration for the potential harm. It should be treated as harshly as, for example, someone whose drunk driving results in death of others. In fact, it should be treated more harshly because there was an intention to cause harm.

[ Parent ]

Murder by degrees. (none / 0) (#118)
by bloat on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 07:33:44 AM EST

We treat inadvertent murder committed during a robbery just as harshly as that which is premeditated.

I don't think so. Not all killings are equal in the eyes of the law. Ever hear of first degree murder or second degree murder or manslaughter?

CheersAndrewC.
--
There are no PanAsian supermarkets down in Hell, so you can't buy Golden Boy peanuts there.
[ Parent ]

Exactly (none / 0) (#121)
by 0xdeadbeef on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 09:00:58 AM EST

Which was exactly my point. Most robbers don't intend to kill their victims, but the actual danger is so high that such a killing will usually get the book thrown at you. Intent doesn't matter so much as the capacity and willingness to harm others.

I'm no expert in the law, but a quick search in google seems to indicate that this is a recognized legal doctrine. I'll research further after work...

[ Parent ]
Re: Let's take it to extremes (none / 0) (#129)
by z on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 12:51:57 PM EST

Shooting someone could injure and kill them to. Are you saying putting someone in a headlock is morally and should be legally equivalent to shooting someone?

If the intention, to commit a violent assault against someone, and the result, death, are the same, then what is the difference? I do not yet understand some people's obsession with "gun violence". Someone killed with a gun is no deader than, e.g., someone killed by being kicked to death by a gang of thugs (happened in this area a few months ago).

If I get in a fistfight with someone my age (early 20s) that is not "acceptable," but I view that as less of a moral and legal sin than getting in a fistfight with a octogenarian, or quadrapalegic.

Please explain why. Do you consider someone who is 20-something more expendable than someone who is 80-something? Some people would believe the opposite.

[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 0) (#138)
by skim123 on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 07:15:49 PM EST

If I get in a fistfight with someone my age (early 20s) that is not "acceptable," but I view that as less of a moral and legal sin than getting in a fistfight with a octogenarian, or quadrapalegic.

Please explain why. Do you consider someone who is 20-something more expendable than someone who is 80-something? Some people would believe the opposite

A 20 year old can defend himself in a fist-fight against me. An 80 year old (or quadrapelegic) cannot. It's the difference between a soldier shooting another soldier on the battlefield and a soldier shooting an unarmed villager. Should I be getting in a fistfight with 20 years olds? No, that is morally wrong, and I should be punished (assault). Should I get into more legal trouble if I beat up a defenseless quad than if I beat up a healthy 20 year old. Yeah, I think so. I see a difference in a bar brawl between two young men and a 20 year old beating the shit out of a guy who can't move his limbs.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Sensationalist Reaction? (3.00 / 1) (#70)
by holdfast on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 04:49:11 PM EST

The reason that the reaction in the UK was so loud is that we are not as accustomed as you may be to children doing this sort of thing.
These things do happen and we are unhappy about it. We are not accustomed to children killing each other. Such an event is in our news again and people are still talking about it many weeks later. If you see our reaction as excessive, this is a sad indication that you do not see that sort of thing as unusual.


"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
Point (none / 0) (#164)
by DavidTC on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 07:25:30 AM EST

You do realize this was seven years ago, right? If that had happened seven years ago here we would have been just as shocked. The whole 'shooting' thing that's happened is very recent, and happened in the last four years or so.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]
fascination with torture? (none / 0) (#89)
by Delirium on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 08:47:48 PM EST

Every child, at least male child, has a perverse fascination with torture at some point. Someone has already likened this to pulling wings off bugs, and I'm sure it was the exact same mental triggers being satisfied when they mudered the toddler. Their evil was that of an indifference to suffering, the inability to empathize with the child, as if the child were a bug.

What do you base this on? Obviously this is only one data point, but I used to be a male child, and do not recall any such fascination (in fact it was more a feeling of disgust at other people who appeared to enjoy doing things like pulling wings off bugs).

[ Parent ]

Torture was poor choice of word (none / 0) (#99)
by 0xdeadbeef on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:18:56 PM EST

Yeah, I hate to generalize, but it is consistent with my own childhood experience, with myself and my cousins and friends. Torture is the wrong word, though. It is really more a fascination with the behavior of other living things (or of the effects of some agent on living things), but with indifference to what pain experiments into such things may cause. Empathy is something that is learned with experience, and I think this process might actually encourage it, as the child eventually makes the connection between his own pain and the reactions of his crawly test subjects.

I didn't find much on the web to support my generalization, but I did find this article at Scholastic that at least confirms I wasn't the only twisted little bastard.

[ Parent ]

My experience (2.00 / 1) (#133)
by dzimmerm on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 03:32:30 PM EST

I have found that the closer to death and ill health you are the more empathic you become with all life. I was close to death at the age of 4 due to severe asthma and allergies. I made my peace with death at that time and as luck would have it I did not die. I have never liked to hurt any animals or other creatures. Mosquitos and fleas are about the only things I let myself kill without qualms. I even hate to step on an ant.

Now it may be that this kind of experience affects everyone differently. Has anyone else had this kind of experience and developed the same view or a totally opposite view?

The whole point of this reply is that you said empathy is learned with experience. My opinion is that it takes a very specific type of experience to build empathy. There are many adults who have no empathy whatsoever. I think the only thing that keeps them in line is knowledge that if they do something bad they will be punished. I would fear these people in a situation where they thought they could not be caught or punished.

What do you think?

dzimmerm

[ Parent ]

My experience (4.00 / 1) (#147)
by Phaser777 on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 10:12:17 AM EST

Now it may be that this kind of experience affects everyone differently. Has anyone else had this kind of experience and developed the same view or a totally opposite view?

I developed the same view, but without that kind of near-death experience, fortunately. Kind of odd, since most people (in my opinion) haven't had a life-or-death experience and (maybe consequentially?) aren't that empathetic with other life. Some are, but like you said, the majority seem to not be.
---
My business plan:
Obtain the patents for something (the more obvious and general the better)
Wait until someone else adopts the idea and becomes rich off it.
Sue them.
Repeat.
[ Parent ]
This has been happening since time immemorial (4.00 / 3) (#55)
by weirdling on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 01:38:02 PM EST

Recently, with more highly concentrated societies, the situation is more easily reported and more easily brought to the fore. However, people often have very short memories. I certainly remember plenty stories of accidental and intentional murders or near-murders that I heard as a kid. Apparently, a certain percentage of any society is likely to try this. It seems to span ethnic barriers, country barriers, society barriers, and any other barrier you could care to mention. Now, what can we learn from this? Perhaps some adults should have intervened, but in the case I remember not long ago here in the States, it happened in a forest, where no one was around.
As to any other lesson, we can't determine if it is societal rot, as it happens everywhere, apparently, in all kinds of different societies. It has happened for a very long time. So, while I feel very sorry for the victims, I'm not in favor of sweeping reforms on this one.
However, the children are, in my opinion, 'damaged goods'. If a competent psychologist can determine beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will be safe to release into society, by all means release them. If not, string them up or at least lock them away permanently.
If the British jail system is anything like the US system, seven years of it ought to be enough to make them criminals for life, anyhow...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
Anonymity...unfortunately (3.83 / 6) (#58)
by dyskordus on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 01:52:28 PM EST

I think these two should be granted anonymity, solely to allow the rule of law to prevail. Written law is by far one of the greatest triumphs of civilization.

I do not think a few years in a juvenile facility is punishment enough for torturing a two year old to death, and I think what a lynch mob would do to these two would be appropriate, but we can not allow ourselves to flush centuries of advancement down the toilet to satisfy our emotions.


"Reality is less than television."-Brian Oblivion.

Am I the only one? (2.66 / 6) (#67)
by mjsherman on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 04:06:41 PM EST

Am I the only one who thinks that we should deal with crime like this by getting rid of the criminal? I mean, not just lock up, because that never works. Notice that they were sentenced to be detained without chance of being let out. Yet, 7 years later, they're out. That's just not right.

I say we deal with crime like this by removing the killer from this earth. How many times do we have to let convicted criminals out just to commit another crime? Those kids obviously knew what they were doing; dragging the poor toddler 2.5 miles and torturing him. This was no freak accident; this was cold, deliberate murder. And that action has consequences. We cannot keep patronizing society into thinking everyone can be "rehabilitated" into a perfect citizen!

We live in a society of contradictions. We value the life of a murderer so much that we can't dare use the death penalty, yet we kill off millions of unborn lives each year. What a twisted mind set we have today in "civilized" society!

-Mike
--- Midnight is where the day begins.

I agree, but I'll take it a few steps further. (4.00 / 1) (#68)
by lazerus on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 04:40:43 PM EST

In this society, having animals mass murdered and used for food and experiments is pretty much not questioned...but *gasp* have sex with an animal and....well, now that's just totally sick and the person responsible is a threat to society!!

[ Parent ]
The converse contradiction. (none / 0) (#76)
by marlowe on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 05:53:27 PM EST

There those who want to spare the lives of the unborn but are willing to put murderers to death as vengenance.

Actually, that's not as bad. At least those that get put to death are probably not innocent. But still, if you're gonna be pro life, why not go all the way?

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Children are not adults (4.66 / 3) (#79)
by swr on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 06:17:37 PM EST

Am I the only one who thinks that we should deal with crime like this by getting rid of the criminal? I mean, not just lock up, because that never works.

Never works? All aboslute statements are false.

There is a reason children are (normally) tried differently than adults. Are you the same person now as you were when you were 11 years old? I know I'm not. Anyone who would judge me today based on the way I was when I was 11 would be left with a totally warped view.

Notice that they were sentenced to be detained without chance of being let out. Yet, 7 years later, they're out. That's just not right.

What is "just not right" is that they were sentenced to be detained without chance of being let out. So says the courts, and I for one agree.



[ Parent ]
hmm.. (none / 0) (#134)
by talks_to_birds on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 03:41:23 PM EST

"...All aboslute statements are false..."

...and this one is?

t_t_b
--
I think not; therefore I ain't
When source code is outlawed, only outlaws will have source code.
[ Parent ]

What is Anonymity? (3.00 / 1) (#69)
by drivers on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 04:41:14 PM EST

What is Anonymity? I've never heard of it (in this context). It must be something that exists in the UK and not the US. Is that a court order that no press is allowed to write about them (or maybe just not use their names?). There is no such law in the US, because of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution (freedom of speech and of the press), although the courts sometimes seals court documents and doesn't release names to the press of minors in crimes. Thanks.

What is Anonymity? (3.50 / 2) (#72)
by bagpuss on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 05:00:45 PM EST

Yeah, it's basically a ban on the media and sorts divulging information about them. It's inanely stupid though, because the ruling only applies down in England and Wales.

Up here in Scotland and Ireland we have different laws and as such, the minute any of our Scottish media get hold of information they can publish it. At which point the information is deemed to be in the public domain and the English media can then take the case to court and get the ruling overturned.

Dumbass laws for a dumbass nation.

[ Parent ]
Justification for prison (4.55 / 9) (#71)
by Paul Johnson on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 04:53:03 PM EST

I see only three valid reasons to keep someone in jail:
  1. To physically prevent the criminal from committing the crime again. In practice this only applies to a small number of adult psychopaths.
  2. To disuade the criminal from commiting the crime again after release.
  3. To disuade others from committing the crime.
In the Bulger case I can not see that any of these three are served by keeping the killers in prison any longer. They were 10 when they killed Jamie Bulger, and I find it highly unlikely that they will kill again. Those in a position to know appear to agree. Therefore Thompson and Venables should be released.

The only argument that they should be kept in prison seems to be based on the idea that "they should pay". This is not a desire for justice, it is a call for revenge. This is a perfectly understandable emotion, but I feel very strongly that letting our hearts rule our heads in this matter would be a mistake.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.

What about making the victims whole? (2.66 / 3) (#81)
by jwb on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 07:39:26 PM EST

One reason for imprisoning murderers is to make reparations to the victims, insofar as this can be accomplished. These people are in prison because they committed a crime which cannot be reversed. Since they cannot properly make up for the crime, society has ordered them to forsake their own freedom.

You can't just let people off the hook for murder. They have to repay the victims in whatever way is possible. Some societies require sacrifice of life, others sacrifice of liberty. A murderer should never be allowed to regain his liberty completely, just as his victim will never regain his.

This is related to why I oppose prison sentences for people who commit propery crimes and people who smoke pot. In the latter, there is no victim. In the former, the victim can be made whole if the criminal returns the stolen item, or compensates the victim for his property and loss of use. Prison for thieves and pot smokers doesn't serve anyone except prison builders and jailkeepers.

[ Parent ]

Odd ideas (3.50 / 2) (#93)
by Anonymous 7324 on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 09:40:11 PM EST

Recompensation? How does the victim's family gain from having the criminal jailed or dead? I honestly don't see how the eye for an eye approach generates anything productive.

[ Parent ]
Not quite the point (none / 0) (#103)
by jwb on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 12:07:51 AM EST

The point is that the criminal has taken someone's life, and now he must pay for that life. If you didn't have to pay for murder, people would be doing it all the time. The burden of lost freedom acts as a moderator on society, to deter and prevent violent crime.

[ Parent ]
Which brings us back to the original 3 reasons (5.00 / 1) (#112)
by Paul Johnson on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 04:30:13 AM EST

In other words, your justification for imprisonment is to stop future crimes. In this case it appears that further imprisonment would not prevent future crimes, so your justification disappears.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

The crux (none / 0) (#132)
by Anonymous 7324 on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 01:34:57 PM EST

is the effect as a deterrent. The paying part is totally nonproductive.

The deterrent would be just as effective if we simply strung them up and then caned their asses down to the bone. <shrug>.

[ Parent ]
Followup questions (4.50 / 2) (#82)
by Brandybuck on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 07:44:01 PM EST

1) If you three points are the only criteria for keeping someone in jail, then would it follow that a murderer who can demonstrate that a) he will not kill again, and b) his imprisonment will not disuade others from the same crime, should not have any jail time at all?

2) Doesn't reason #3 (disuading others) apply in this case? Don't we want to send a clear message to society that you cannot kill toddlers?

3) You say it is highly unlikely that they will kill again. What makes you think this? It seems to be that ten year olds who beat toddlers to death with bricks will be capable of equally heinous crimes as adults. There is a legal term called "reprobate", and it seems that these two fit that word.

[ Parent ]

Re: Followup questions (3.33 / 3) (#111)
by Paul Johnson on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 04:27:13 AM EST

1) Yes, you are correct.

2) No, for the simple reason that the killers were children at the time. Releasing the killers of Jamie Bulger will make no statement about how future adult criminals will be treated, and future child killers will not distinguish between the 7 years they spent and life, because when you are 10 years old 7 years is a lifetime.

3) I gather that these two have not merely been imprisoned but treated by psychiatrists and counsellors, given decent adult role models to conform to, and so on. Whilst no such course of treatment can ever be 100%, its a pretty safe bet that they won't kill again. Also, whilst they are being released they will be under permanent supervision for the rest of their lives, so its not quite what you or I would think of as freedom.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

Prison as the 'capital' punishment (1.50 / 2) (#92)
by Anonymous 7324 on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 09:37:23 PM EST

serves all three purposes, and moreover prevents the government from killing needlessly.

You may be convicted by a panel of your peers, but a single person, the judge, has the power to decide whether you live or die. An extremely poor system of checks and balances, I'd say.



[ Parent ]
Justification for prison (3.00 / 1) (#97)
by sethmr on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:17:04 PM EST

4. To punish a person for acts he or she committed.

In other words: Go to your room!

Seth

[ Parent ]
But why punish? (4.66 / 3) (#110)
by Paul Johnson on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 04:05:52 AM EST

But what is the justification for punishment. Consider a convicted criminal. We define him as a criminal because he has caused harm to someone. You propose that we cause even more harm by taking his freedom. If the harm that the ciminal did was undesirable, how is the harm you propose to cause desirable?

The only answer I can see is "to prevent the greater harm that would result if he were left free". Whence comes this greater harm? From the future acts of the criminal and others. Therefore the prevention of these future acts can be the only moral justification for punishment.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

how would you feel if it was your kid? (3.00 / 5) (#84)
by Friendless on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 08:06:55 PM EST

I have a 4 year old son who is rather like Jamie Bulger might have become - a trusting little soul with no understanding of malice. When he was younger, and we were working together in the front yard, he ran off up the street to a stranger. I chased him and he said "Me want to hello that man." This is the sort of sweetness (and ignorance) that we are dealing with.

One of the places that Thompson and Venables may escape to is Australia. I have heard no stories about their rehabilitation, regret, or changed views on life, so I have to assume the worst about them. It is my responsibility to care for a precious innocent little boy, and I will do that no matter what it costs two convicted murderers.

Kill all the sick right wing reactionaries (3.00 / 6) (#116)
by nictamer on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 06:11:21 AM EST

No seriously. When your kid is 10 year old. Ask yourself. What if he killed someone by accident. What if ... he was incited to do something by accident. What if ... what if YOU have an accident, die, whatever, and then your kid, by himself, because life sux0rs, starts doing weird things ... when he's 10 ....


--
Religion is for sheep.
[ Parent ]
And then... (none / 0) (#139)
by Robert Gormley on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 08:21:12 PM EST

These are hypotheticals, and irrelevant. There was no accident. It was not "peer group pressure". They took James Bulger with the intent of killing him. They took him to a railway line because they intended killing him, and leaving him on the line so someone might think he was hit by a train.

A little different, isn't it?

[ Parent ]

They know what they did... (3.71 / 7) (#85)
by Bridge Troll on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 08:09:39 PM EST

Those boys at eleven years of age were fully self-aware. Though maybe not having full adult competance, they knew what murder was at the time, that it was wrong, and the consequences. The only thing their age should spare them is the hangman's noose. I personally as an eleven year old would have been insulted if someone did not think I had the intelligence to comprehend murder.


And besides, pounding your meat with a club is a very satisfying thing to do :) -- Sleepy
Re: They know what they did... (4.50 / 2) (#90)
by mmodahl on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 08:50:53 PM EST

I personally as an eleven year old would have been insulted if someone did not think I had the intelligence to comprehend murder.

Yes you would have been insulted as most 11 yr olds are know-it-alls.

You might have understood murder, but would you have been able to discern the long term consequences. I'm 19 and I look back a year and wonder 'What was I thinking.' No I never commited murder, but I did stupid stuff. I'm sure I'll look back a year from now thinking the same thing.

Martin

[ Parent ]
Fully self aware at eleven? (4.00 / 1) (#150)
by marlowe on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 11:27:47 AM EST

It depends on the individual. Different minds mature at different rates.

I've known guys in their thirties that I wouldn't consider fully self aware. Of course they were heavy drinkers. In fact, I've known eleven-year-olds who were heavy drinkers.

Also, a person have have high intellectual ability, but be almost infantile in his moral understanding. As an example, consider that moral idiot-savant who recently trashed the White House on his way out.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Arn't there laws regarding this kind of thing? (4.00 / 2) (#86)
by CyberQuog on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 08:17:16 PM EST

I know in the US a juvenial's name can not be released to the public. Arn't there laws like this in the UK? It seems to me to be a basic right, especially for lesser crimes.

On a personal note, there are people saying that these KIDS deserve to be lynched. They were 8 years old when it happened! This doesn't make it right, this doesn't justify it, but does an 8 year old who basically raised himself truely know the consequences of their actions? There are things that I did way past the age of 8 which i truely regret and wish I had never done, and I have IMO good parents. Being lynched is an extremly gruesome way to die. Did anyone see the pictures of the two Israeli soldiers who were lynched? Not pretty. Heh, I realize I strayed from the original topic a little, but it infuriates me when people say that an 8 year old embodies pure evil and DESERVES to be lynched. Let these kids live their lives as normal as possible, if they have any kind of conscience they're probably doing more harm to themselves then any lynch mob could do.


-...-
Was this just a mistake? (none / 0) (#88)
by FlinkDelDinky on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 08:44:31 PM EST

but does an 8 year old who basically raised himself truely know the consequences of their actions?

This can go pretty far in my book. I think you could say a young kid doesn't understand the full danger of cars. So if a kid takes papa's car and kills/hurts some people by accident I can have some understanding.

But murder is another thing entirely. So much stuff is packed into a brian by 5 years old that probably can't be undone it isn't even a joke. This wasn't an accident, it was murder.

They knew what pain was. They knew what they were doing. They just didn't value the toddlers life. The wasn't an accident. There are things that I did way past the age of 8 which i truely regret and wish I had never done, and I have IMO good parents.

Things like murder?!?!

[ Parent ]

Values (none / 0) (#96)
by CyberQuog on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 10:09:15 PM EST

They knew what pain was. They knew what they were doing. They just didn't value the toddlers life.

My point exactly! What values do 8 year olds know, especially when there is no one to teach them? 8 year olds cry when they can't have the candy bar they want, but will then go and punch a little girl in the face and not bat an eye. Should they be charged with assault because they know what pain is, because they knew what they were doing? Yes, murder is much more severe, but I consider it nonetheless a mistake they made, a very very large mistake, but a mistake. They payed the time for this mistake by giving up their entire childhood, and should be left alone from now on.

I may be just ignorant, but I refuse to believe that two 8 year old boys can in cold blood, murder someone else, knowing exactly what their doing, and understand all the consequences. Hell, most 8 year olds don't understand that when you die, your dead forever.


-...-
[ Parent ]
Kill Them (2.90 / 11) (#87)
by GreenCrackBaby on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 08:21:23 PM EST

Ok, mod it down to 1 (or zero) since I sound like an ogre. Or maybe read it fully first before you jump all over me.

I don't understand why people become so squeemish when people start to talk about protecting society by removing violent criminals from it. I'm not one of those "but what about the prisoner's rights" type of people. I believe that priority should always be placed upon the wellfare of the community before individuals.

When you get people that enjoy killing, rape, and/or torture, I just don't think that these people belong in society. I don't care if it's mental illness, upbringing, etc that made them do it. The notion that I could go out for a paper and get shot dead because Joe Blow didn't want any witnesses to his $50 robbery disturbs me. How is prison going to make this person see the value of human life?

The notion that a couple of 10 year olds capable of killing a small child can be "rehabilitated" is ludicrous. Having taken enough psych courses to get a degree, I don't take what a shrink says with any weight. For those of you who have taken "science" pysch courses (behavioral, cognitive) you'll know the great pains that researchers go through to maintain scientific viability in their work. However, "arts" pysch courses (developmental, freud-stuff) use no such techniques, and almost all their research depends on human observation or response. It's completely subjective stuff, yet it is the reason we have "healed" pedophiles or rapists walking around. A couple of group hugs and they're good to go. As I said -- ludicrous.

If you prove to society that you are a monster, then you've used up all your "chances" as far as I'm concerned. Kill them or lock them away forever. I don't care. I just don't want to meet them when I go out for a paper.

Lock them away forever (2.00 / 4) (#91)
by Anonymous 7324 on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 09:31:04 PM EST

Although I agree that there is no point in trying to rehab most murderers, I believe that capital punishment is always wrong.

Lock them up for the rest of their life with no parole, I say. Since when did state-sponsored murder become a Good Thing(tm)? America remains to be one of the very few countries to counsider themselves 'civilized' and yet also have state-approved murder.

[ Parent ]
As I said... (1.00 / 3) (#95)
by GreenCrackBaby on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 10:03:16 PM EST

...kill them, lock them away forever, put them on the moon. I really don't care (I'm not opposed to capital punishment, but apparently it's cheaper on the taxpayers to keep someone locked up for the rest of their life, so lock 'em up then) as long as I don't have to deal with them back in society again.

[ Parent ]
Sorry, I couldn't resist (2.00 / 1) (#108)
by Oxryly on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 01:50:24 AM EST

America remains to be one of the very few countries to counsider themselves 'civilized' and yet also have state-approved murder.
I won't ask why the non-sequitur criticism of America, but I will say:

Are you meaning to imply that no other "state" in the present or the history of the world has engaged in state-approved murder? Have there been no wars fought? No state sanctioned pogrom's?

How is the death penalty somehow worse than massive armed agression carried out in the name of foreign policy?

It seems that if we should want to kill foreign aggressors, we should also want to kill those of the domestic type. There should be no difference, hmmm?

Oxryly

[ Parent ]

I won't ask why you're so confused. I will ask: (none / 0) (#131)
by Anonymous 7324 on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 01:33:41 PM EST

How many countries besides the US constantly trumpet the triumphs of its human rights? Sure, middle eastern governments aren't nice, but they don't constantly cry out about how nice they are either.

As for massive armed agression: have I said that it's worse or better than capital punishment? You just lost the argument by putting words in my mouth.



[ Parent ]
Quote from the Reverend (none / 0) (#136)
by dennis on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 06:03:50 PM EST

"Capital punishment turns the state into a murderer. But imprisonment turns the state into a gay dungeon-master."

- Rev. Jesse Jackson

(Somebody emailed that to me, so I'm not totally sure he's the one who said it.)

[ Parent ]

Other methods? (4.50 / 2) (#98)
by Alorelith on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:18:30 PM EST

I sometimes agree with your sentiments, but some things you say disturb me. I feel that the mentality that no one ever even possibly deserves a second is ludicrous.

I mainly say that because my cousin was somewhat in that boat. He was heavily into the skinhead scene and had nearly killed a few people on several occasions. At first it sounds bizarre that I would be defending such an individual.

However, one day he was caught by the police and arrested, trialed, and eventually sentenced. Part of his sentence involved rehabilitation (I'm not sure exactly by what methods). Now he's one of the nicest people I know (cliche, eh?) and I'd trust him with pretty much anything. Now he does motivational speeches and informational speeches on various hate groups and the ilk. (What I really like about him, however, is that he isn't a PC anti-hate group advocate, he's pretty damn funny and highly libertarian.)

Now in a case like this, I don't see how his being incarcerated for life would have accomplished much. For the short term, sure, I'd probably feel more comfortable. But guess what? There is another person down the road who'll do the same crap, probably even something worse. Constantly shipping the misbehaved to prison cells or terminating their lives would accomplish only that...removal from society.

Besides the obvious answer of teaching the younger children not to commit heinous crimes, a great solution would be designating some large city as a convict town. No one but convicts would be allowed. Isolate them from the rest of the world and allow them to live their own lives. The outside world wouldn't be allowed much contact with them, either. I'd like to see what develops from a civilization of such people.



----
Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. -- Nietzsche

[ Parent ]
Let me clarify (3.00 / 2) (#102)
by GreenCrackBaby on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:55:01 PM EST

I feel that the mentality that no one ever even possibly deserves a second is ludicrous.

I don't think I said no one. That your cousin decided to better himself (and I truly believe it's a personal decision in most cases, not a result of therapy) in prison is commendable. But do you truly believe that the majority of people let out of prison are better people? Are you willing to give them the chance?

The best example I can think of right now is the psychopath that the texans let out of their prison on early parole. He brutaly tortured, raped, and slaughtered over 12 more women until he was caught again. Considering he had done the same to other women before he was put in prison, it makes me wonder why he was deserving of a second chance.

I'm willing to sacrifice the chance that some people may get better in prison for the chance that society will be safer if the worst of the prisoners stay where they are.

[ Parent ]

True (5.00 / 1) (#122)
by Alorelith on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 09:04:02 AM EST

True. I understand wholeheartedly what you are saying. Everytime something horrendous like that occurs, my first reaction is usually to say 'that bastard deserves to die' or something similar.

However, if your method would be utilized, by what criteria would the offenders be judged? I think the obvious crime of murder should be dealt with in your manner. Rape I place pretty highly on that list also, but sometimes rape is extremely hard to classify. What I mean by that is how do we punish someone who is charged with rape, is found to be guilty, yet everybody (but the jury) knows it was concentual in some part. Also, when an 18 year old has sex with say a 15 or 16 year old, is he punishable by death or severe imprisonment? The ground gets a little shaky at that point.

What other crimes should be punishable that severely. Considering I'm against the 'War on Drugs,' I think drug czars and dealers and such should not be punished. Hell, unless they commit some other capital offense, I think they should be left to their own bidding.

Surely disorderly conduct and breaking and entering shouldn't be punishable by death. What about larceny and arson, etc...? I think the only leg that the law could stand on would be to punish murderers. However, then comes the case of whether it was an accidental death or other occurence.

With those points made, I think the only offenders who should be punished with death would be 1st degree murderers. Yet, what if they are actually not guilty? What if the evidence seems to point to the person, but they are not convicted? What about OJ!?

With that said, I think it's a real shaky idea to allow the government to carry out punishments. I'm not sure what IS the proper method, but without conclusive and irrefutable evidence, punishment by death is hard to stand by.

I'm sure I took your whole statement out of proportion, but I'm just uncertain about whether people should or shouldn't be dealt the death penalty. Perhaps I should be the judge. I seem to have an uncanny sense as to when certain people deserve their just punishment :)



----
Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. -- Nietzsche

[ Parent ]
been done (5.00 / 2) (#137)
by vsync on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 06:14:04 PM EST

Besides the obvious answer of teaching the younger children not to commit heinous crimes, a great solution would be designating some large city as a convict town. No one but convicts would be allowed. Isolate them from the rest of the world and allow them to live their own lives. The outside world wouldn't be allowed much contact with them, either. I'd like to see what develops from a civilization of such people.

Australia.

--
"The problem I had with the story, before I even finished reading, was the copious attribution of thoughts and ideas to vsync. What made it worse was the ones attributed to him were the only ones that made any sense whatsoever."
[ Parent ]

Kill Them (3.50 / 2) (#120)
by plug on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 08:19:29 AM EST

Locking everyone up simply doesn't seem to work. A quick look at the US should surely show you this. State killing maybe fine, until one innocent person is killed (that could easily be your good self..) and then it looks to be a tad crude. Locking people up turns them into institutionalised deviants/criminals that we, as good taxpayers, pay thousends of /$ to keep. Maybe we should think of a more intelegent approach eh?

"In the U.S., you have to be a deviant or die of boredom." William S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

Ok, maybe calling my comment "kill them" (3.00 / 1) (#127)
by GreenCrackBaby on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 11:22:43 AM EST

As I said in my comment, I don't care if they are killed, put away forever, etc. They just shouldn't be allowed back into society. Keep in mind here I'm not talking about every criminal -- just the "monsters" of society (these I would categorize as psychopaths, sociopaths, serial killers/rapists, pedophiles).

As I've also pointed out in another comment, it is apparently way cheaper to keep someone in jail all their life as compared to killing them (since all appeals are automatic and expensive).

[ Parent ]

A not entirely bad idea.. (3.00 / 1) (#148)
by phrawzty on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 10:46:28 AM EST

Before everybody gets on the bandwagon, i'd like to point out that GreenCrackBaby has not all that bad an idea. I mean, look at his reasoning.

Kill them or lock them away forever. I don't care. I just don't want to meet them when I go out for a paper.

That is brilliant. Our world would truly be a wonderful, near-utopian place, if we could just kill everybody that didn't quite fit into our narrow little views of reality.

But wait, i digress. Perhaps some explaining is in order. GreenCrackBaby, as near as can be decerned, is a staunch supporter of the Death Penalty. The idea that there are crimes which as so heinous, the perpetrator of those crimes must have their life ended.

Second, the "crimes" that are said to be worthy of death are decided by a society's legal system. Murder, Rape, etc.. are considered, by our society, to be so evil, that death is the only solution.

Be it also noted, that in other cultures, the Death Penalty is used for other crimes. Such as showing bare skin if you're a woman (Iraq), speaking out against the government (China), or simply having been born (Kashmir). It leaves one to wonder - what, exactly, deserves a death sentance? Seems to be that everybody's got a different idea.

Well, i've got the solution to that problem! Just kill everybody that doesn't agree with you. Peace through violence - that's my motto - if you just kill everybody that poses a threat, then there won't be any threats!

Now that's a Utopia, i can live without..



.-- - - - - | big bad mr. frosty `-- - - - -
[ Parent ]
Okay. (none / 0) (#163)
by DavidTC on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 07:14:58 AM EST

Now that's a Utopia, i can live without..

Well, all right. *shoots phrawzty in the head*

Wait, maybe I misconstrued that. ;)

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Prisoners' Rights (4.00 / 1) (#151)
by Steve B on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 11:28:57 AM EST

I'm not one of those "but what about the prisoner's rights" type of people.

I am -- but the "rights" in question are not some nebulous grab bag, but a specific set of protections:

1. The right to be free of excessive prying into one's private business by the State. This means very little prying is permitted for most citizens, and a somewhat greater (but not unlimited) amount of prying is allowed when the State shows probable cause to suspect that a certain individual might have guilty knowledge or evidence of crime.

2. The right to a fair trial, including opportunity to examine and rebut prosecution evidence, present defense evidence, insist on different judges and jurors if there is evidence of bias or conflict of interest, etc.

3. The right to a level of punishment within reasonable proportion to the crime (in terms of sentence length, decent conditions of incarceration, and the like).

So far as I can tell, none of these rights have been violated.

While I believe that there is a right to anonymity in many cases (particularly a right of anonymous publication), I do not think that it can be reasonably extended to the use of anonymity to avoid the consequences of one's crimes (which include being shunned by decent society when the crime is particularly outrageous). Come to think of it, if anonymity is allowed to shield one from the conesequences of one's crimes, then anyone who finds out these perps' new identities can feel free to publish the information anonymously....

[ Parent ]

What purpose does killing them serve? (none / 0) (#153)
by TheMgt on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 03:40:48 PM EST

The vast majority of killers are not repeat offenders. If somebody is killed it is pretty unlikely to be by somebody who has killed before, so execution as a means of 'protecting society' is fairly useless. Neither does it deter others from killing otherwise countries with the death penalty would have a lower incidence of murder than those without.

[ Parent ]
questionable calls? (2.80 / 5) (#100)
by fluxrad on Wed Jan 24, 2001 at 11:29:48 PM EST

let's just look at the arguments and decide for ourselves.

they were 10, people say....they had no real capability of right vs. wrong. they didn't know the permanence of what they were doing.

what, pray tell, would we have done to a wolf or bear that killed a 2 year old?

by all rights, we would kill it

what then, is the difference between killing a bear that makes no distinction between right and wrong and a person (young or old) that makes no distinction between right and wrong?

but a human life is worth more than that. it is a sin to kill a human...

hm. that's an interesting point. you advocate releasing or perhaps even giving anonymity to these (still) children because you think that killing them would be wrong. somehow this seems slightly ironic.

of course - a quote that comes to mind is "ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking it." - i would argue that these children, while not fully having an understanding of the permanence of their actions, still understood the difference between right and wrong. If i ask any 8 or 10 year old if it's ok to kill someone, they will unanimously tell me no. This is because they have been told over and over again that it is so.

Perhaps advocates of release and anonymity for these two perpetrators forget the value of vicarious experience. I am expected not to smoke crack because i have been told not to. I have never smoked crack, so i cannot say for certain that it will kill me, or that anything bad can come from it. For all i know (a priori) crack could be the most blessed thing on this planet, and i am simply denied the privelege of smoking crack because crack smokers want more for themselves. Regardless, it is understood that i am not to smoke crack, and that i will suffer greatly if i am caught and convicted of smoking crack. Anyone who has not killed a person (or has not known someone who has been killed personally) only really knows that killing is wrong because they have been told that this is so. I cannot beg mercy for killing someone because i had never killed someone before, and that i did not truly understand the consequences of my actions.

Another question, of course, is the age of the victim:

but the child was so young...

Should the age of a victim really make any difference in sentencing whatsoever. Is the life of a child worth more than that of an adult? Aparently, if we are to use the two perpetrators of this crime as an example....this is most definitely not the case.

note: none of the above really represent my opinion in the matter. Simply an offering of thoughts for you to argue for, against, or simply to provide another perspective for discourse. My true opinion is that these "children" should be treated as humans insofar as they should not be killed in retaliation for something they did nearly a decade earlier. At the same time, it would seem to me that their actions warrant an extremely severe brand of justice. My solution: deport them. I find it odd that many countries don't remove undesireable elements from the premises. If someone does something i find unacceptable in my own home, i remove them immediately. (of course, i do not advocate this treatment for most crimes. only the most severe)

where would they go?

that, certainly, would no longer be a problem for the british government to solve. Perhaps another country will take them in. Perhaps not. Either way...it is my opinion that if you are old enough to take another individual's life into your own hands, you are more than ready to take responsibility for your own.

--
"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
Oh my fucking god if I believed in any (2.00 / 13) (#115)
by nictamer on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 06:07:41 AM EST

This board is so full of reactionary, right wing, tabloid reading, football watching, cheap beer drinking political rambling, it's scary. They were 10 years old. 10!!!

The difference between a conservative and a liberal, is that a conservative fears the idea that a criminal might not be sentenced, whereas a liberal fears the idea of an innocent person being wrongly declared guilty

I don't know who wrote the above, but it's quite accurate.


--
Religion is for sheep.
A bit of history (3.66 / 3) (#119)
by tregenza on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 07:46:15 AM EST

The press will be prevented from revealing the boys location and identities by a 'Mary Bell' order. This is named after Mary Bell, a ten year old girl who tortured and strangled a three year old, dumping the body on some wasteland. Sound familar? This was in 1968. The case raised a huge wave of anger and disgust and when she was released at the age of 23 the court ordered the media never to publish anything about her. This was a landmark ruling, never had such a blanket injunction been put on the press and never had a criminal been given any sort of protection like this. After being released Mary Bell became a normal member of society, lived a peaceful life and had a daughter. The murder of James Bulger was a tragic case for all involved but such murders have happend before and no doubt they will happen again. The question is: 'How does society deal with children who kill?'. What good will locking up the two boys for life, of even executing them, do? Will it deter other children from murdering? Of course not. Children growing up it ten years time will never had heard of the two boys so it is not going to deter them. The only good further punishment will do is satisfy those people who want vengence, who want the killers to suffer. This is understandable but how does society benifit? Releasing them, allowing them back into the community, is the only way they can do something positive for our society. They can never undo the harm they have done, they can never do enough good to balance out their crime but if they are out of prison they have a chance of doing some good, no matter how small.

Mary Bell (5.00 / 1) (#143)
by yojimbo-san on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 05:10:17 AM EST

...a 'Mary Bell' order. This is named after Mary Bell, a ten year old girl who tortured and strangled a three year old, dumping the body on some wasteland. Sound familar? ...

No, it doesn't sound familiar. However, now I've done a web search and looked it up, it has a lot of important parallels to the Bulger case.

What concerns me, is that as a result of the court order preventing discussion of the Bell case, people reading about the Bulger case are being denied the opportunity of making comparisons, are being denied the opportunity of "learning from experience".


Quick wafting zephyrs vex bold Jim
[ Parent ]
Re: Mary Bell (none / 0) (#145)
by tregenza on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 09:57:18 AM EST

Unfortuantly Mary Bell lost her immunity a couple of years ago. She co-operated with a writer on crime who was writing a book on what makes children commit crime, somether Mary Bell had a unique insight on.

The Sun, a bag of shit tabloid scandel sheet, picked this up and printed pictures of her and the house where she lived. The Sun claimed that Mary Bell was gaining from her crime and therefore could no longer be protected by the court order. The fact the Mary Bell received no payment from the book, made no attempt to disguise the evilness of what she done or put here in any sort of good light was ignored. Mary Bell's daughter found out her mum was a murderer from the front page of a newspaper.

The worst thing about this is that The Sun got away with it.



[ Parent ]
Allowing them back into the community? (1.00 / 1) (#149)
by marlowe on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 11:21:02 AM EST

Not in my backyard!

Uh, you are kidding, right? All this talk about "gee, these things happen, so let's be nice and let loose so these things can happen some more" is like a parody of mindless liberal cant. But I've run into so many people who are actually this stupid that I thought I'd check.


-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Jail time (4.00 / 4) (#123)
by magullo on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 09:25:05 AM EST

It is widely known that belonging to an organized society implies both losses and gains at an individual level. And we have clearly decided that the benefits outnumber or overpower the disadvantages. After all, we've been at it for thousands of years.

Even though the trend has been to close that gap, to restore as much invidual power in comunal decisions as possible and will likely continue to go on like this in the forseeable future, there is a cut-off point where our individual aspirations will be diluted in the general opinion.

Thus, it is up to us, to everyone, to decide what is going to be the reasoning behind our common actions. We can remain shaped by theories and ideas born in a different time and circumstances or we can use current (and past) knowledge to solve new problems with new approaches.

For instance, we can start by getting rid of the idea that if you put trash out of sight, it will eventually disappear. This applies to a wide variety of human-related activities, from ordinary waste to nuclear waste, from basic crime punishment principles to digital law.

It's in the numbers. We are simply too many and we are growing at alarming speeds. Our waste is bound to become someone else's problem.

You do not "put someone away". That person doesn't dissapear from society even if it says so in a paper stripping him or her of all or part of her rights. What's more, that person becomes an extra non-productive load for society. And yet some among us would like to see that load multiplied many many times.

To talk about rehabiliation logically, we've got to look at figures such as one-time non-repeat ofenders. Since everyone makes mistakes, I hope nobody gets too upset if I propose as a social objetive to make as many prisoners as possible fall into that category.

Simply locking people up for a given amount of time and then watching closely after that for another amount of time does not address that problem. If anything, it makes it worse. While exposing newbies to an environment of bored professionals, we expect them to spontaneously get on the opposite train of thought.

It's hard to believe that well-established, wealthy and advanced societies do not allow themselves to be kind towards their own participants. Crime should be countered by with measures that, while being proportionaly harsh, should ultimately encourage that particular individual to return to society. And the other way around, encourage society to accept them back.

As repulsive as releasing or protecting a child murderer might sound, it is in everyone's benefit to let them get on with their lives once we are reasonable certain of their true desire to accept the rules and get back into society. Certain as in we have solid systems in place which track and add to his or hers progress.

The present case is paradigmatic because it involves childs. If anybody can think they can make accurate predictions on the future behavior of a 10 year old 10 or 15 or 20 years into the future, they might need some help themselves. Any human life is inherently too random at too many levels to make that possible.

If we can't predict it, how can we be sure we are rehabiliating? Well, with figures like the one mentioned above: ratio of first time offenders to general prison population, by researching techniques and testing their impact, etc.

The practicalities have to be worked out,

What is the purpose is to argue for a

I blew it! (4.00 / 1) (#124)
by magullo on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 09:30:52 AM EST

Guess I hit the wrong button, didn't I? Well, my point is that we can either lose the lifes of 3 kids we can try to win back 2. You choose.

[ Parent ]
fairness (3.00 / 1) (#126)
by Rainy on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 10:30:23 AM EST

Consider that this murder was singled out by press. It seems to be the uniform conviction that we get meaner with age - and therefore if they killed a toddler at 10, they'll murder thousands when they're 20. I find this untrue - kids can be especially cruel, and imnsho the guilt lies equally on thier families. Also, we decided that courts are the punishers, except when there's need for direct action (vigilanteism), which is acceptable in some cases, even if illegal.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
Generality (3.25 / 4) (#128)
by Error hectic7 on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 12:00:02 PM EST

There is alot of talk about what 10 year olds should know but what most ten year olds should know doesn't apply to every case. If these two were the two slowest ten year olds ever should their ignorance of morality and the consequences of violating that morality force them to be jailed for life or, as some have (shockingly) suggested, lynched? This goes somewhat hand in hand with the idea that poor parenting can cause this sort of problem but even a good parent could raise an immoral monster if that child is not able to comprehend what they did wrong.

Most ten year olds should be able to understand the difference between right and wrong (I know I did.) but these two might be in that small subset of society that is incapable of that until a later age and perhaps they should not be unduly punished for that.

Fundamentally you cannot judge a situation like this based on merely the situation. You must also understand the individuals involved. This is something the courts will attempt to do and the psychiatrists have already attempted to do but none of us have ever spoken to the boys involved or (I'll wager) even read the court transcripts.

-Error

nit-picking (none / 0) (#140)
by kubalaa on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 10:20:13 PM EST

Okay, I gotta call you on this one:

Most ten year olds should be able to understand the difference between right and wrong (I know I did.)

Personally, I'm still struggling to understand the difference and imagine I will until I die. Half the point of philosophy is to justify and define morality. What you mean to say is that you knew that killing babies was behaviour that would result in severe consequences, that most human beings are born with at least some knowledge to this effect, and that very rarely is a child raised in a way that they can overcome/ignore this natural inhibition.

[ Parent ]

re: nit-picking (none / 0) (#154)
by Error hectic7 on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 07:28:37 PM EST

You're right. I didnt really mean all right and wrong but in this situation I just meant they should be able to tell that killing a small child is wrong. I didn't meant to imply that anyone could really know what is right and wrong in all situations. I know that I will never be able to do that.

[ Parent ]
Rehabilitation? (3.66 / 3) (#135)
by tommasz on Thu Jan 25, 2001 at 04:17:46 PM EST

What scares many people about them being let out it is the implication that, after 7 years, they are now at least as dangerous as when they were arrested and convicted. This tells me the British juvenile detention system is similar to the US one, it's incarceration and nothing else but. It may even be punishment, but without a goal. Given that people fear them, the boys are indeed in danger and while it might have been better to deport them (it's an island after all), it was the right thing to do. If the father thinks hunting down and killing them will bring his son back, he's wrong, as wrong as they were.

So is revenge wrong? (none / 0) (#146)
by Ted Raceway on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 10:06:46 AM EST

Any vigilante attack against the perpetrators of such a horrible attack would not benefit the dead, but the living. Humans have an innate need to 'do something'. When a bad thing happens we tend obsess over it, we replay the event over and over looking for what we could have done differently. When this fails to bring closure or comfort we seek repair. If the bereaved father took the life of the killers of his child, it would be to gain closure to the event in his mind. The need for revenge is not an accidental thing in our society it is inborn. Acts of revenge have even been attributed to members of the animal kingdom.

So, is this wrong? I can not as a rational, civilized person openly condone such acts of revenge, but as a father, I can certainly understand the motivation.

On the positive side of revenge, you get:

  • A sense of closure in a troubled mind
  • A message that such acts (the original violence) are not tolerated
  • Removal of any future threat from the perpetrator

On the negative:

  • A statement that criminals can't or shouldn't be reformed
  • A mixed message about violence (it is okay for revenge seekers but not for the originators)
  • The possibility of injustice (the wrong person might be punished)

 



[ Parent ]
What of justice and mercy? (none / 0) (#157)
by hjones on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:12:22 AM EST

Revenge is a very self-centered emotion. It takes no consideration of anything outside of one's own anger. Not the greater good, not the proportion of unishment to crime, not even the question of whether the suspect is in fact guilty, though if we're lucky, the court will deal competently with that last one. It leaves no room for mercy, and if it happens on occasion to lead to a result in accordance with justice, that is purely by accident, not by design.

We can't run a decent society on the principle of revenge. There are some badly dysfunctional societies that work on the principle of revenge, such as the south of Italy, Northern Ireland or much of the Middle East. But these are not pleasant places to live.
"Nietzsche is dead, but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. And we -- we small-minded weaklings, we still have to vanquish his shadow too." - The Antinietzsche
[ Parent ]

The state's revenge (3.80 / 5) (#155)
by ocrow on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 09:38:38 PM EST

`What a pity Bilbo did not stab the vile creature, when he had a chance!

Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need.

I do not feel any pity for Gollum. He deserves death.

Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.'

deportation (3.00 / 1) (#158)
by israfel on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:54:02 PM EST

your country. your people. your responsibility.
deportation is just like putting your head in the sand and hoping someone else will deal with your problems.
australia is no longer a penal colony nor subject to oppression by the british "empire".
you're going to have to deal with it yourself this century instead of trying to sweep it under a rug somewhere.


You just don't understand a very basic thing here (3.80 / 5) (#159)
by nidarus on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:22:30 AM EST

I've been reading the comments on this page and by far, I've read way too many nostalgic stories about how some k5ers used to/not to torture animals, beat up other kids, and basically, know/not know right from wrong while being young children.

Well, guess what? It's not the same. It's not even on-topic. This case had nothing to do with kids knowing or not knowing what's wrong or the true meaning of death, or anything like this.

They were, and probably still are (repeat after me) psychopaths!

Really, people, we are not talking about a case of children who wanted to play a game of "cops and robbers" but with daddy's oh-too-real real gun here. These kids were just as aware of their acts as any serial-killer.

Ah, but here's the problem. Can you really claim that a person (10 or 20, doesn't matter) who's a psychotic killer can be truly responsible for his acts? And what's more important - can you really claim that he'll be cured just by 7 years in jail?

In fact (and I am straying off the topic a little, but so what, I already did that in the previous paragraph), it reminds me of a kid who was admitted to a psychiatric hospital because he poisoned all of his family. When he was released, what did he do? That's right. Poisoned his co-workers, causing one of them to die (as I remember it straight). Now, at first, when people got "ill", no one knew why was that, since all this guys records from the psychiatric institution were confidential. If they had knew his gruesome past, at least one death could've been averted.

Anyhow, back to the topic of my comment (rant?): I am truly surprised that all of the k5ers, people whom I usually consider insightful (and that's why I've read these comments in the first place), overlooked this simple, and yet very important fact. It made me angry, in fact. So angry, I connected at 9:00am, when the telephone company rates are the highest (hmm... I guess I'll have to sell my body again to pay off these damn bills...), created a k5 account, and (very hastily) wrote down this comment. This is why, by the way, there are so many grammatical and spelling mistakes there (sorry).



Anonymity Afirmed (4.00 / 1) (#160)
by jcjneudo on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 10:38:26 AM EST

As to privacy ...

In Western society, the courts punish because mob rule is error-prone. If the court says "enough", we should accept this. We might petition the courts to be harsh--we must not take the law into our own hands. It is necessary to maintain the legal fiction that ex-prisoners have "paid their debt to society".

The court, having decided that these boys be allowed to live, has the responsibility to ensure that the punishment it has set is not exceeded by vigilante action, and ensuring privacy is reasonable.

As to juvenile crime...

The Canadian "Young Offenders Act", sometimes hated for its leniency, prevents publishing the names of offenders under 18. In Canada, no one outside of the town would even be told that these were the killers. Since they were under 12, they would not even be imprisoned-- they would probably be removed from their homes and placed under the control of social services until they reached 18 or so, but they would not be "punished".

As an extreme case, suppose a two-year old managed to kill someone. We know a two-year old doesn't understand good or evil-- we simply prevent the baby from doing any harm.

Likewise, an 8-year old should never be placed in a position where he _CAN_ do damage. 10 year olds and 12 year olds are a borderline area. If I were the law, I might have charged the young murderers' parents with negligence.

Jason Neudorf

Eye for an Eye (3.00 / 3) (#161)
by frog51 on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 11:14:15 AM EST

As stated many times above, incarceration does not cure criminals. In fact it can teach them new tricks. It also is a serious burden on society - our taxes go to keep criminals in better conditions than many hard working, law abiding folks, with TV's, games consoles, career training etc.

A return to bread and water and hard labour in a concrete cell would at least be a start - people would be put off the whole concept if it was much more miserable inside.

Human rights people start getting up in arms at this point - but I reckon the more harm you do another human being, the more rights you should lose, so:

Minor or first time crimes - minor punishment
Community service or short jail time

Physical attacks - eye for an eye.
Commit a hit and run in a car - you get run over, stab someone - you get stabbed.

Rape/ Sexual Abuse - castration
Well it would stop you wouln't it!

Murder - euthanasia<br< Fuck it - if you take another life you don't deserve to be on this planet with the rest of us.

Murderers have NO rights - Fuck Them!!

Frog51

Horrible. (none / 0) (#162)
by DavidTC on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 06:52:00 AM EST

Rape/ Sexual Abuse - castration?
Well it would stop you wouln't it!

Contrary to popular assumption, rape has little to do with sex and everything to do with gaining power over someone. Making them think of themselves as less of a man is really not a useful way to stop sexual assaults. You'll stop some rapes, but cause few serial murders.

And, I have to point out once again, as I have to do every time someone invents this horrible idea...what about wrongly convicted people?

And I have to love how the same society that thinks conditions in prison are too good can, at the exact same time, assume men will become someone's 'bitch'. Do you have any idea of the rate of assault, rape, and murder in prison? Oh, great conditions there. And, BTW, most people will gladly pay for career training to get someone out of crime.

I, of course, think we should stop running prisons for people who have decided to be violent. I can live with everyone else, and, hell, I can even live with people who plot a murder out and kill someone in cold blood. But I can't live with someone who wanders around and continually assaults people who look at him funny. We just need to kick those people out of this country, period.

Think about it. Who would you rather beat at poker, Charlies Manson or some random thug who terrorises everyone he meets? I'd rather beat Manson, at least he's not going to kill me for winning. If we got rid of the bullies, we'd be left with a much less violent prison population: the socialpaths, the schemers, and the jealous lovers.

Unbalanced people who go wacko and kill someone, I can handle. Cold blooded killers, I can handle. Bullies I cannot abide. Throw them out of this country.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Think back. (4.00 / 1) (#165)
by DavidTC on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 07:41:01 AM EST

To everyone who is calling for lynch justice: Would you lynch them if they were 10 years old and got released on the streets? (Just pretend they had somehow served their time and hadn't aged.) Why or why not?

If so, why is it any better for an adult to kill a 10 year old then for a 10 year old to kill a two year old?

If not, why do you feel you can punish them now, when you wouldn't have punished them when they were the age they committed the crime? Either they have changed, are have hopefully learned not to act like that, or they haven't changed, and are still the same as the 10 year olds you wouldn't kill.

Frankly, this after-the-punishment lynch idea is just kinda weird. The time you lynch someone is before punishment, not after.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.

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