Unfortunately, with all the bloody parents who simply cannot be arsed to look after their brood screaming "what about the chiiiiiildren?" it seems that we have set aside the whole fucking concept of justice in order to pander to yet another special interest group. Hang on, what am I saying? We have set aside all justice for this special interest group, for even many liberal seem to think that stealing from people in order to find the life-style choice of parents is justified.
Anyway, as I said, I find the hounding of Gadd very nasty indeed; either he is mad (in which case he should be treated as anyone else with a mental illness, i.e. with sympathy) or he is bad (and can thus choose not to reoffend and, as such, should now be free). And, via Timmy, it seems that Carol Sanger agrees.
If we accept that paedophilia is an illness - and there are reasoned voices who say that it is - then, by definition, we accept it as being beyond the control of its sufferer in exactly the way that we accept schizophrenia. Therefore, we should respond as such: if a man, for reasons not remotely his fault, is posing a risk to others, he should be subject to sectioning under the Mental Health Act, with all the appropriate regret, sympathy and kindness that accompanies such a move. Given the grip of the current bogeyman frenzy, it is hard to see that one playing in Peoria; nevertheless, it would be the only humane response.
If we accept that it is a crime, however, then it is something which the perpetrator can control. He may choose to offend or not, and if he chooses what is unacceptable, again we should respond as such. We catch the bastard, try him, lock him up by way of penalty and then - this is the crucial bit - once he has served his sentence we restore his liberty. In full.
This has been the fundamental principle of justice, at least within crime and punishment, that has stood us in reasonable stead since Magna Carta. Now, just because one particular category of behaviour is exciting public consciousness - pressing, as it does, all the right buttons such as “sex” and “children” - is collective gut revulsion really enough to challenge copper-bottomed, tried, tested and trusted legal tradition?
Oh, how dare you, you wicked woman? Won't somebody think of the children? Won't somebody think of the fucking sodding little chiiiiiiiildddren? (Please do imagine that said with all of the contempt at my command—it is considerable.) Anyway, Sanger goes on to point out that the general hysteria of the pathetic public—especially the parents who, being too lazy to keep an eye on their own children, would rather that the state do so (paid for by those of us who have no children and no interest in being compelled to pay for theirs)—has given the government carte blanche to pass these disgustingly anomalous laws, regardless of the lack of justice inherent in them.
Take, for instance, a man who had sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old girl or boy. If caught, and especially if force were involved, he would expect a severe sentence - at the end of which, he would emerge into the light of day and have his every movement monitored for the rest of his natural life. And so what, you say, shedding not a tear.
Quite so. But if that same man had broken every bone in that same 14-year-old child's body, he would similarly expect a severe sentence - at the end of which the prison gates would slam behind him and he would be totally free.
By the same token, Gary Glitter might deserve not a jot of our concern. None the less, in his disinclination to chat with a police officer at Heathrow, presumably before being added to the sex offenders register, he does have a point. For had his crime been other than fiddling with little Vietnamese girls, had he instead been convicted and imprisoned for, say, drug smuggling or a gang-related killing spree, he could return to Britain without a shred of further official intervention in his life.
And no, that is not an excuse to put the perpetrators of every other crime on a big fucking list either. Once people have done their time, they should be free to go about their business without the state peering over their shoulder all of the time.
Putting children in danger outweighs almost any other consideration - except, perhaps, the danger of the precedent set by singling out one identifiable group and excluding it from the principles of law that apply to all others.
Quite. And there is far too much of this sort of thing around and, you know, one day it may be you who falls foul of these inclinations. If I may quote A Man For All Seasons.
- ALICE [Exasperated, pointing after RICH] While you talk, he's gone!
- MORE And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
- ROPER So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!
- MORE Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
- ROPER I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
- MORE [Roused and excited] Oh? [Advances on ROPER] And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you-where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? [He leaves him] This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast-man's laws, not God's—and if you cut them down—and you're just the man to do it—d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? [Quietly] Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.
But all this appears to go by-the-by where the fucking chiiiiildren are concerned. But this is to debase our justice system and ourselves. As Sanger says at the finale...
The solution, therefore, is either to declare all those on the sex offenders register to be unwell and apply open-ended treatment, compassionately, according to the severity of their condition - or to declare them criminals, take our several pounds of flesh and let them go. Mad or bad. But we can't, in conscience, have it both ways.
So you pick.
I think that you know where I stand—it is with the latter option. Which one will you pick?