The Law is an Ass

“The law not only needs to be done, it must be seen to be believed”
Peter Cook

I just suddenly noticed lots of news stories doing the rounds where miscarriage of justice is the nub of the issue. So I thought I’d write about them, in reverse order of seriousness…

5. Graffiti removal laws in Ireland
Personal anecdote: when talking to the Dublin City Council about removing graffiti, it was mentioned to me that the Council has the power to “issue enforcement orders” for people to “clean their own property and if they fail to do this then we can prosecute them.” Given that people with graffiti sprawled on their own walls are victims, it seems doubly gratuitous to then prosecute them. In fairness, it was explained to me that this was extremely rarely done. But, still, the law seems harsh and absurd. On a scale of 1 to 10, this is a 1 only.

4. Betty Perry, Utah.
Poor old Betty. 70 year old great-grandmother and internationally-renowned criminal! Not only was she hounded by an incompetent police officer, but the state of Utah is pursuing her sorry ass for resisting arrest and failing to maintain her lawn. Ridiculous.

3. McCanns fight back over allegations
This is not quite a miscarriage yet, because they haven’t been charged, but it it quite clearly the case of the law (in this case, Portugal’s) getting the wrong end of the stick completely. Add to that the tabloid scum harassment, and you have a couple who have tragically lost their young daughter being hounded mercilessly and insanely.

2. The Jena Case
Despite having his conviction overturned by the Florida State Appeals court, Mychal Bell still remains incarcerated and under threat of further prosecution.

1. Tunisian Heroes
Tunisian fishermen face 15 years’ jail in Italy for saving migrants from rough seas. This is by far the most egregious application of a law in pursuit of the innocent. Indeed, I would go so far as to call these fishermen heroes. Yet, Italy is trying to prosecute them to encourage – let’s call it the way it is – murder on the high seas. Disgusting.

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5 Comments

  1. September 21, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    Small correction: the Jena Case is in Louisiana, not Florida.

    It’s hard for me to generate a full batch of sympathy in cases 2 and 3.

    Mychal Bell is guilty of the crime, except he should have been charged as a juvenile. I believe he is not in jail at the moment. On the other hand, I can’t blame the black community for feeling he’s been treated worse than he should have. Blacks (especially non-immigrants) still experience racism and stereotyping, despite what any law says should be happening.

    The amount of money and attention the McCanns have brought to the case has certainly been a double-edged sword. They are guilty of (to be diplomatic) a lack of wisdom, and I’d rather give money and attention to parents in the same situation who were not so irresponsible with their children.

    On the other hand, #1 is dreadful; I’d not heard about the Tunisian fishermen. An absolute travesty. Even if the people they saved are illegal immigrants, does that mean their fate should be death?

  2. September 21, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    Correction: Mychal Bell has been denied bail. It may have something to do with his already being on probation at the time of the alleged beating. It’s worth noting his five co-defendants are free after posting bail.

  3. shazgood said,

    September 24, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Liquid Egg, I can’t agree with you about the McCanns. Their role as parents who have lost a child is hard enough as it is without being condemned as being irresponsible. Is losing their child not sufficient punishment? The English media coverage has been horrendously unfair to them. I agree, their own role in publicising the case has been a double-edged sword, but then, if you were in their position, would you not stop at anything to get back your child?

    The issue with Mychal Bell is the disproportion (accusing him of attempted murder) and the discrimination (white boys being allowed off for similar crimes). If he is guilty of the assault, then he should be sentenced for it, but there are so many anomalies being highlighted by the case that they need serious attention. And having his bail set at $90,000 (I believe) and being unable to pay it, is the reason he was denied bail, as far as I read somewhere?

  4. September 24, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    Reading more about the Bell case…think I have a better understanding of what the problems are. An earlier incident, some white students had hung lynches from a tree in an obvious message to black students. The whites were suspended from school for a short time, but not charged with anything.

    The excuse was that there was no law against it. It seems like they could find something on the books to charge them with. This amounts to a death threat, for crying out loud!

    Mr. Bell was not offered bail at all last I read. I suppose this is because he was already on probation (this was not the case with his co-defendants, as far as I know, who are free on bail). IMO, not non-sensical.

    McCanns: can you imagine the Portuguese media coverage? I do feel bad for them, but I feel worse for the daughter than for them. Is this wrong? Maybe.

    They have suffered enough, but as long as people will buy and watch the word “McCann”, they’ll keep getting more of it.

  5. David Levine said,

    September 25, 2007 at 1:18 am

    As much as I’d like to comment on either of these pathetic travesties, I would only be preaching to the choir.

    Clearly our legal systems are in the same state of decay as our religions. Western Civilization is a giant rotting fruit, drawing flies and worms. Hopefully a large, cosmic fruitbat will come along and eat us, then crap out the seeds on another pristine Eden, so we can foul that up too after a few thousand years. Please see this educational cartoon…


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