Sunday, 20 December 2009

Vengeance is mine, says the judge

It's now a week since I collapsed weeping in the supermarket. I hasten to add nothing bad has happened to me and mine, or not directly. No I wept for a stranger, aman named Munir Hussein.

Catherine Bennett's blog today in the Guardian, is a useful model article of all the bad arguments in the Munir Hussain case.

Munir Hussein, a pillar of respectability, a businessman known as The Peacemaker, is at the heart of a legal uproar about burglary and violence.
He came home with his wife and children to find burglars. They tied him up, and his family, beat him up, stated they would be killed, and held them at knifepoint. But his son got away and got help, his uncle who lived nearby.
Once the thugs saw their game was up they fled with a freed Munir, his brother and two neighbours in hot pursuit, bearing a cricket bat and a metal pole as makeshift weapons.
Two got away but Samir was broght down and battered, causing some brain damage.

Munir Hussain and his brother have been jailed for years. The judge explained that if he did not jail them it would undermine our "civilised society."

Munir's mother had just died. His wife was recovering from a stroke, and under the strain of the case, she has had a second one. Munir's successful business may have to close, putting 100 households into unemployment. These are not legalities but the whole mess made me weep for Munir and his family.

The ensuing debate has touched on the rawest nerve in Britain today. Public discussion has been fast and furious, the enormous majority on one side of the drawn lines.

Mr. Mercer MP when he asked for the most important change in the law that British people wanted, got the overwhelming response that people wanted the right to defend their homes - with violence, and without fear of going to jail for it.
Mercer's proposed law was then suppressed by the Government.

Catherine Bennett (Guardian) opens her comment today by mourning the damaged cricket bat. That immediately sets her tone as trivial and abusive of the serious issues involved.
Read on for a methodical analysis of the issues.

Catherine Bennett (Guardian) opens comment today by mourning the damaged cricket bat Munir used to batter Samir with, which sets her tone as trivial and abusive of the serious issues involved. A lot more irrelevant chaff follows.

Mind you there has been some excellent humour in the debate. Try this one.
"The poor lambs who argue that Mr. Hussain should have made a citizens arrest and held the knifeman until the police arrived haven't a clue. They have no conception at all of what a knife carrying street fighter is like. The starry eyed darlings would have their blood and guts all over the pavement before they had finished saying "Stop and give yourself up or I shall be forced to give you a reasonably hard but not life threatening or otherwise seriously damaging blow about your person with my cricket bat."
[Klough commenting on Catherine Bennett, Guardian today]

Picking out the actual points scattered in Catherine's article we find reference to “a carful of supporters” – untrue. No car brought help, his help was Munir’s brother and two neighbours.
Four respectable men with makeshift weapons up against three violent thugs with knives seems entirely proportional, even heroic.

Catherine then rightly says this is “a land where faith in law enforcement has all but broken down” and there is “a general rage against police uselessness, against lenient sentencing.”
Less than 10% of burglars suffer any negative result so “those of us who … are forced to rely on conventional justice” are left radically unprotected.

Catherine then insults the mass of men for their protective anger for their families’ safety. I would rather honour it, and the men who feel it. Nor do I appreciate Catherine insulting women as well as men; if alone without my bloke, I’d not use a “rolled yoga mat”– I have a trusty and very heavy iron frying pan.

But she is right that Munir’s violence was not strictly self defence.
As she says the jury HAD to convict. Currently, that's the law.
BUT the judge did not HAVE to jail Munir.

Catherine supports the judge’s view that without jailing Munir we’d have a Hobbesian brutality where “the rule of law counts for nothing.” But this is nonsense. "Civilised society" already counts for very little – 10% clearup rates, police no go areas, violent criminals like the one who attacked Munir's family, with 50 convictions yet roaming free.

Jailing Munir is no remedy at all. That's like elastoplast on gangene. Instead, supporting Munir’s justified rage that his life and his family’s lives were threatened, would provide a hefty deterrent to thugs. People, police and even criminals agree. So what doesn't this judge and his good little girl admirer Catherine Bennett, not understand?

I would MUCH prefer to see police supported properly to do their job effectively. Once they were, up to about 1980. But for a generation the police have been more and more obstructed.
It is also questionable if they could cope even if properly supported. A 20% underclass and rising is flooded with alcohol as cheap as water, available almost 24 hours a day. They have no hope since the education system has been wrecked, and are continually and insistently told everywhere they look, that they are worthless scum unless they have all the latest material goods.

The result is predictable. Theft and violence in epidemic propertions. It is also going to get much worse.

So as this goes far beyond the bounds of police resources next best is to allow us to both defend ourselves, AND deter violence, as Munir did. Police and law cannot do it for us any more.

Much is made of the fact that Samir was running away afterwards. But Munir was still in the immediate aftermath of a death threat. He'd been tied up, threatened for his life, seen his beloved wife and chil;dfren in danger of their lives as well.
The law then asked Munir, in the immediate reaction to such ultimate fear, within minutes, to weigh up his response. He was required to measure out his own violence in a "reasonable" and "appropriate" way.

This is completely unrealistic. Highly trained police can't always do this - and they are not coping with their beloved wife and children in mortal danger. So why do we ask ordinary people to handle more than the professionals?

Peak adrenalin needs up to 15 mins to subside. Until it does no “reasonable” or “appropriate” reaction can be expected. A law that recognised that could give Munir a suspended sentence.

But wait – this judge could have done just this! A suspended sentence is available if Munir is otherwise peaceful and no threat to general society. Many witnesses including police say he is. Very much so. He has been known for years as the Peacemaker.

We must ask why the judge is so far cut off from the reality of ordinary people's lives who are living in a society ruled by fear. Is he blinded by his money? Privilege? Stupidity? I don't know.

Seriously this must be checked because judges should comprehend real life, and protect us, saying in effect BURGLARS BEWARE!


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