Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Tax Funded Propaganda: Capital Punishment

Following posts by S&M and Blimpish, I’ve been trying to think through my own position on capital punishment. I’m still thinking, but meanwhile, surfing has thrown up a number of jaw-dropping items.

For example, the irreplaceable Paul Foot argued in Socialist Review (1995):

‘…there was no correlation at all between the incidence of capital punishment and the incidence of murder.'

No correlation at all.

'Murders were mainly personal or domestic crimes, immune from deterrence. Moreover, there were plenty of American 'mistakes' similar to the tragedy of James Hanratty...a young worker from north London, [who] was hanged for a murder near Bedford on the A6 when (as later evidence proved) he was 200 miles away in Rhyl at the time.'

Later evidence proved? Er...would that be the same cold blooded killer James Hanratty who in 2001 was definitively proved by DNA evidence to have been quite correctly convicted and hanged? Bearing out the brave testimony of the woman he raped and left for dead at the scene forty years earlier. The same woman who was thereafter confined to a wheelchair, having to withstand a constant stream of smear and innuendo from Paul Foot and other woolly-brained abolitionist liberals such as Ludicrous Kennedy?

Sorry, I'll just take another swig of my medication.

Another even more gobsmacking item. We know that our rulers are against reintroduction of the death penalty on standard liberal elite grounds. After all, paying any attention to the 60-70 per cent of us who regularly poll in favour would be…my God…no better than lowest common denominator populism. But what I hadn’t appreciated was how blatantly they use the state propaganda apparatus to shape our views. As a taster, try the National Archives’ Learning Curve site to help school kids with their studies. They have a game:

‘It is 1965. Many people want to abolish capital punishment, although there is still a significant number who want it to remain.

You have to put together a set of statements…which will form a Bill to be passed in Parliament. If MPs are convinced, they will pass the Bill- if not, they will throw it out.’

You then have to select 8 from 16 multiple-choice statements.

Now with forty years of post-abolition hindsight I know that it resulted in a trebling of the homicide rate, rocketing amounts of violent crime, and more dead policemen. So naturally, I picked statements like ‘the numbers of violent crimes will rise,’ and ‘police believe that more criminals will carry dangerous weapons, as the punishments will not be serious enough to stop their actions,’ and ‘life sentences are often shortened and criminals released only to kill again.’

It sounded pretty coherent, so I pressed the ‘Vote’ button and was pleased to see the Bill was lost.

But instead of getting a coconut, I read: ‘No. Your arguments are weak and muddled- you have not convinced people. Capital punishment will be kept. REJECTED.’

And to emphasise my rejection there was a gale of derisory surround sound laughter from the MPs.

I felt humiliated, so re-read the opening instructions. Yes, you guessed it- you can only win this tax-funded ‘game’ if you pick the 8 statements that support abolition.

My complaint is already whizzing its way through cyberspace, although somehow I don’t think I’ll hold my breath.

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