I HAVE TO BE CAREFUL what I say here; despite this relating to legal matters on the other side of the world, it concerns a case that sickens and revolts. Should convicted paedophiles — those who rape their own children, no less — be executed? And what, in such cases, is a “mitigating” factor?
First things first: this isn’t an ordinary issue in the retail political sense, although crime and punishment certainly fall within the remit of governments across the world.
And secondly, a warning: readers should keep their comments to the issue, not the actual case I am going to briefly talk about.
Have a read of this article; I saw it in my Twitter feed just as I was about to switch off for the night, and was so incensed that I simply had to put a few words together.
It seems too often the case — wherever there are stories of children, people in responsible positions of trust over them, and sex — that either penalties meted out are in the eyes of a majority of the community too lenient, or that there are “mitigating” factors.
Readers will see from the article I have provided that the brother of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams — Liam Adams — has been convicted of 10 child sex offences, including three rapes, committed against his own daughter between 1977 and 1983 when she was aged between four and nine.
Adams is currently awaiting sentence, which is why a degree of circumspection probably needs to be exercised, although I admit I replied to The Guardian‘s tweet that in my view the “son of a bitch” ought to be hanged.
Even so, the fact the article notes Adams is being held (presumably in isolation) for his own protection speaks volumes.
I’m no hillbilly rednecked bigot, and I don’t think for a moment that anyone who knows me (or has become familiar with my thoughts through this column) would suggest otherwise.
I am, however, a trenchant advocate of the reintroduction of capital punishment, in certain circumstances and for some offences, and subject to a suitably unimpeachable qualification: the proof of the offence beyond any doubt, rather than simply beyond reasonable doubt.
One such class of offence I think a capital penalty ought to apply to is serial and recidivist paedophiles; in cases where the victim is the offender’s own child, that’s an additional aggravating factor — to put it mildly.
I hear about crimes like this and some days I just wonder: who’s out of step? Me? What are the community standards — be it in Australia or elsewhere — when it comes to this sort of thing?
The bleeding hearts and chardonnay drunks all tut-tut at the merest mention of capital punishment; it’s barbaric, uncivilised, and subhuman.
Yet I note that when outrageous depravities of the nature of Adams’ offending affects them personally or those nearest them, often those same do-gooders suddenly become the most vocal of converts in the world to the concept of capital punishment.
An eye for an eye. Retributive justice. That particular story thread runs along the lines that the Courts should execute child sex offenders to stop them from taking matters into their own hands.
But even then — with that one exception excused — the moralising against capital penalties resumes from them; let others carry the anguish and abortive justice of inadequate punishments so long as they, themselves, are avenged.
Is this too harsh?
It is certainly true that across the developed world, capital punishment has, progressively, been abandoned.
Nations and states that continue the practice are routinely attacked for “human rights violations,” and pilloried.
Yet in all the years I have watched politics, world events, current affairs and the law, the outraged clamour against “soft sentencing” and similarly expressed grievances seems to be growing louder each year.
I look at the article detailing Adams’ pre-sentence hearing at the Belfast Crown Court and note his lawyer told the Court of her client’s health problems: he walks with a stick, and suffers from inflammation of the arteries and osteoarthritis.
This is being submitted as a “mitigating” factor; really, who cares? Those ailments were no impediment to him committing the crimes for which he now awaits sentencing, and they shouldn’t be an impediment to him being punished.
The abolition of capital punishment — which, in many countries, has been enacted to comply with United Nations treaties on human rights — to my mind removes a powerful deterrent to the kind of monsters who repeatedly commit unspeakable acts against children.
The likes of Martin Bryant, Julian Knight and others like them have much to be thankful for, too, in a perverted and truly obscene way.
And for those who argue that it’s no deterrent — that sick bastards would still commit the same sick crimes — I would simply say that if it doesn’t deter them, it will at least render their capacity to ever reoffend non-existent. Permanently.
For the record, I do think that for many years majority community opposition to capital punishment was probably in lockstep with the moves to abolish it.
However, in more recent times when murderers, rapists, paedophiles and others reoffend time and again — after manifestly inadequate periods of incarceration, to boot — I’d wager the pendulum has well and truly swung the other way.
There is a reason why governments — even conservative governments — do not offer referendums on the reintroduction of capital punishment: in short, such questions would be resolved in the affirmative, with the resultant need to have to abrogate whatever ghastly treaty obligation, foisted on the community by the UN, might apply.
What do people think? Are Courts — in Australia, in Ireland where Adams’ sentencing will soon occur, or elsewhere — too lenient on these types of crimes?
Should capital punishment be reintroduced?
This girl’s childhood was brutally destroyed by her own father. The crimes are truly despicable. And that man’s lawyer submits, in essence, that poor health and discomfort is a “mitigating” factor?
I will say this: it’s no wonder the chardonnay drunks join the calls for capital punishments when the vile stench of savage crime affects them — even if it is only a momentary lapse into common sense and sanity.