All men kill the thing they love
By all let this be heard
Some do it with a bitter look
Some with a flattering word
The coward does it with a kiss
The brave man with a sword
(Oscar Wilde - The Ballad Of Reading Gaol)
The end… when it arrives… is – so they say – swift… very swift indeed.
That final dawn has come and gone; those last letters to loved ones have been written and, in the distance, there’s the far-off sound of a tolling bell, muffled through walls a yard thick as the clock strikes the hour – the appointed hour as laid down by law.
The long wait is nearly over…
The clickety-clack of highly polished footsteps marching to the beat of a silent drum draw ever closer; left right, left right, left right. Stop.
Suddenly – as if without warning… as if warning were needed – the real dawning of fear as the key to the locked door is turned. Within such a claustrophobic space, its echoed jangle stretches nerves already passing breaking point even further.
The procession is quickly led in by a wholly-enrobed priest intoning prayers for the dying from an opened bible and there, following behind, is the small, somehow business-like man, saying (allegedly)… follow me, this won’t take a moment…
First the manacles…
Then, those few short, halting (assisted) steps to another, altogether more macabre chamber, as the guardian doors are rapidly pulled back reveal…
And then the blindfold…
The only sound is deep-breathing and the steady drone of prayers; all is dark as the noose around the neck is tightened with the knot correctly positioned under the left ear….a split second pause and… eternity beckons…
The bolt is drawn like greased lightning and, finally, that unhindered drop to the end of the rope.
The fastest on record – apparently – considerably under ten seconds from the moment James Inglis’ cell door opened until the trap-door was sprung, sending him to meet his maker.
And the dispatcher-in-chief…? Albert Pierrepoint, the executioner who not only followed in his father and uncle’s footsteps but the man who – up until the mid-1950’s – legally ended the lives of between four and six-hundred men and women (estimates vary) convicted of a capital crime.
John Christie, Ruth Ellis, John Amery – who, again allegedly, greeted him with but seconds of life remaining by saying, Mr Pierrepoint, I've always wanted to meet you. Though not, of course, under these circumstances; Timothy Evans; John Haigh – the acid bath murderer; as well as those convicted of war-crimes at Bergen-Belsen including its camp commandant, Josef Kramer.
And, of course, Derek Bentley – Christopher Craig’s accomplice in the notorious shooting of a policeman in Croydon after their bungled raid on a confectionery manufacturers. Craig was too young to hang so – although he never fired the gun and did not commit murder, Bentley paid the ultimate price, leaving this world just a very few months after I entered it
And why has all of this come to my mind today..? Should I not be thinking about Obama’s inauguration and celebrating his vision of change. Yes… and in a way I am.
I’m a non-violent person… Sure, on occasions I become cross and say things that, in the cold light of day, I bitterly regret – but, then, from time to time, we all do. I guess I’d probably be classified as a pacifist. Though if I had to tick a box, such is my loathing of a society that lives under the rule of boxes having to be ticked I’d probably refrain from making my mark.
Along with millions of others, I’ve an abhorrence of war and an intolerance of politicians who send people to fight… I simply do not believe that any man or woman has the right – no matter what difference in creed or faith or standpoint of view – to advocate wholesale aggression to another in that manner.
And so, IF Obama can bring the undoubted weight of his office to bear on bringing about one, much-needed change whereby the futility of going to war is seen for what it is… then brilliant. IF he can set a true leader’s example by saying… you know what, enough really is enough… great – because then maybe, just maybe, the idiots in power throughout the Middle East might also see sense and stop their massacring of innocent people who have, unwittingly, got in the way of either side’s bombs and bullets.
It’s a faint hope but… then I’m a hopeful kinda bloke.
Oh – as a sort of aside here, there’s one other change he could make… Mr President… please, for pity’s sake, stop going up on stage and pointing your bloody finger at photographer P or Q and grinning foolishly, you’re just aping those con-artists, George Brown and Gordon double-U-bend… act like a statesman not like a…
If push came to shove, I’d happily pull that bolt to convey a convicted perpetrator from this world to the next.
Eh..? On what basis..? What’s brought this on..?
Murder and… child abuse – which, as I see it, is the slaughter of innocence.
Because, I believe the law has become – and has been for some considerable time – an absolute parody of itself… there is absolutely zero deterrent to heinous activities.
For instance, its been stated that – during the past year – over 20,000 sex-offences against children have been reported to police; a sickening enough statistic in its own right. Factor in this detail then – nearly 5% are for offences against pre-school-age children and the revulsion is even more abhorrent.
But… what happens to convicted abuser X..?
Essentially, they’re given nothing much more than a rap over the knuckles. They’re put behind bars for a certain amount of time – having been told they’re being given a life sentence – and then, after a while, let out again. (And, yes I know this is a bit simplistic but, in essence, its factual).
Just the same if, for example, criminal Y is convicted of murder; twelve upstanding citizens have unanimously passed a guilty verdict and the sentence, as approved by the authorities – the Home Office – is handed down by the beak. Who, no matter what they think, have no choice in the matter…
Because, here’s the issue… life does not mean life.
Equals… no real deterrent.
Knife crime, gun crime and the horrific abuse of children is way too prevalent within our current society – there can be no detractors from that point of view.
But, what does… what has… society – today – done to curb it..?
The Voltaire on this particular grassy-knoll says… bxxxxr all.
School-kids… youngsters… since time immemorial have always looked up to who they perceive to be their peers, just the same as Bentley and Craig did back half-way through the last century.
They were brought up on a diet of gangster movies wherein gun-totin’ villains battled it out in cinemascopic black and white with the cops. Having come through the Blitz and the (real) horrors of living in war-torn Britain, for them as it was for countless thousands of others a fantastic form of escapism – a Saturday morning well spent down at the local Gaumont.
Its part of growing up that one sides against the authorities thus, packing a gun or a knife or knuckle-duster was, for them, their way of kicking out the traces. It made them feel big… important… like (their adolescent yet cinematic perception of) real men.
And, in today’s parallel world of the unthinking, less-well educated, its just the same… blinged-up blokey-bloke at the back of the class has a gleaming machete stuck down his pants… hey, man, that’s cool… I’ll have a portion of that.
Violence on the streets and child abuse is – probably – not much different from then as it is now – though, for certain, its a lot more publicised in this day an age since the news reporting across whichever form of media in this generation is a lot more open than it was during post-war years and into (say) the Seventies.
The death penalty – other than for treason – has been done away with. So be it. There were as many worthy arguments for its abolishment long ago as there are equally laudable points of view that would see its re-introduction tomorrow.
However, by taking that – the ultimate deterrent – away, what has replaced it?
The rap over the knuckles approach whereby life doesn’t mean the rest of one’s natural life behind bars, simply does not work… it is no deterrent at all.
As just two examples, who can forget the truly horrific murder of Jamie Bulger in Liverpool during 1993..? Yes, at the time, the convicted killers were under-age (11 years old) but… both Jon Veneables and Robert Thompson are now free… men.
Because, for the taking away of this child’s life (don’t forget, that’s a basic Human Right – the right to live) the pair served… eight – yes, only eight… years behind bars. Both of them out before their 21st birthday…
They, nowadays, live under new identities having, essentially, been repatriated into society.
In 2002, the Soham murders of the two school-girls – Jessica and Holly – rocked a nation… The actual killer – Ian Huntley – was, quite rightly, put behind the secure bars of Broadmoor but… in 2005, the ‘authorities’ decided that he should only serve 40 years while his accomplice Maxine Carr – who provided false alibis and more – served just two years, her sentence shortened due to ‘good behaviour’. She is now a free-woman and has also been provided with a new identity and a new address by… the State. Yes, the Bulger lad’s killers and Carr (along with similar others) are (I imagine) monitored by Police or local authorities but…
Every thinking person would, I believe, agree that enough is enough when it comes to knife and gun crime… and I cannot imagine anyone could condone the abuse of children.
Am I therefore advocating an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth..?
Yes… I firmly believe it has now come to that… because, the existing deterrent will never eradicate the current culture of violence and abuse.
If young people packing guns and knives – and using them – because they think it’s a cool thing to do actually saw some of their so-called peers being put away… for ever… when they realized that life actually meant you’d die in jail, then perhaps they’d think again.
If child-abusers witnessed the same, would that not be a move in the right direction..?
The media has the power… to really strike fear into that part of our society who believe its actually ok to maim and kill by wielding guns and knives; to properly scare those who feel its alright to murder children by claiming their innocence.
Not just by saying… oooooooooo isn’t that just too terrible… It is, we know that… So, stop wandering about on the moral high-ground and step up to the bloody plate.
Methinks its time for a change of gear… For the media to properly champion the cause of… put these abusers and un-thinking killers away and... heavily publicise the fact that…
Life… means… life.