Does British Morality Demand an Eye for Eye?

Posted on September 20, 2012

What a strange and depressing week it has been, no sooner had the nation digested the criminal actions of the police in the aftermath of the Hillsborough Tragedy/mass manslaughter, then two young policewomen get murdered by a man linked to gangland crime. All of a sudden the police force are the guardian angels of our society and anyone who disagrees should face an instant death penalty by the most hideous way possible. What a difference a week makes.

Looking  at the extremes of peoples’ morality compasses is an interesting subject and comments on social network sites, radio shows and from mental patients such as Norman Tebbitt make me wonder which side of the fence  to sit on when these arguments rage on. One of my favourite songwriters, Paul Heaton, posted a brainless comment on Facebook last week saying that Liverpudlians should plant 95 bombs outside police stations and one in the houses of parliament as a response to the  exposure Hillsborough police cover up that pinned the blame for the tragedy on dead supporters. Meanwhile, and equally extreme at the other end of the spectrum,  Norman Tebbitt sees the  Shadow of the Gallows”  as the ideal deterrent to murder.

The most terrible thing about the brutal murder of these two policewomen is that it brings out the very worst type of people to start ranting about retribution, people who have a pretty low moral compass of their own but can now satisfy themselves that they are better than Dale Cregan. It happens every time, whether it is a an alleged paedophile living on a council estate in Portsmouth or a faked kidnap of a child in Bradford, these people come out in their masses with their devil dogs, demanding the most savage retribution on the alleged perpetrators, so savage that it really does make you wonder what happens behind their own closed doors?

One thing I did hear on the radio was of particular interest and that came from a chap who had lost his own son after a stabbing incident. It was his belief that executing the person who killed his child would do nothing to stop him grieving. In his opinion, unfortunately, the hanging or electrocution of the criminal could not be replaced with the return of his son, so what was the point in it all apart from five minutes of retribution that meant nothing? The other more chilling aspect of killing criminals is the fact that if you look back on the history of bodged police investigations, it wouldn’t be very long before an innocent man was executed. Surely a life imprisoned is punishment enough, especially if the murderer can be interrogated and analysed to the extent where psychologists can get to the root of their character make up and help to make similar crimes rarer in the future.

It is open to debate whether “The shadow of the gallows” would have prevented the death of these two policewomen, but I would suggest not, as it is pretty much the case in most murders that the death penalty is the last thing on the perpetrators mind. Once again, take a look at American statistics, does a gunman carrying out a high school massacre think of the consequences?  It could even be argued that a life in prison is far worse than instant death because if the perpetrator had any conscience at all, they would rather die than live with their demons as company on a daily basis. If they didn’t have conscience at all, they would not be thinking about the consequences of their crime as they carried it out. Whatever ever is the case, the victims will still be dead.

As much as the Olympics brings out the best in British society, a high profile murder brings out the worst and I can’t help that think there are sections of our society who would relish the opportunity to take part in an X Factor style reality show  to vote when, where and how the execution of murderers should take place. The people who scream loudest for retribution during these tragedies are more often people who are morally unstable themselves (Tebbitt is a fine example) and are trying to make a name for themselves as heroes of the masses when, in reality, they care not a jot for the dead people or their grieving families.

However, here is the worst thing of all. There will be be retired police chiefs and politicians who will see the tragic deaths of two young women as an ideal distraction from their own despicable activities post Hillsborough… Remember, there are still 96 dead Liverpool fans and no-one is likely to be taken to the gallows for that crime.

A crime that I wouldn’t bet  against Norman Tebbitt  knowing all about.


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