Exemplary sentences and collective punishment

Excellent comment on the UK riots by Iain MacWhirter in the Herald:

Boy steals bottled water worth £3.50 and gets six months in jail, while bankers who wrecked the economy are rewarded with billions in public money.

Politicians demand exemplary sentences for vandals who nicked clothes from Debenhams, ignoring the way MPs helped themselves from the John Lewis list courtesy of their fiddled expenses. Tabloid newspapers demand a crackdown on lawlessness, at the very moment they are found to be engaged in law breaking on an industrial scale.

The only person who has faced any punishment in the phone hacking scandal in recent weeks has been the comedian who threw a custard pie at Rupert Murdoch.

He was sent to jail faster than his feet could carry him. The rest of the Murdoch suits walk free, even as documentary evidence emerges suggesting that they have misled parliament and the police. No exemplary sentences for them. Which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact senior police officers have been revealed to have been close to the Murdoch clan.

It’s kind of bizarre when  I find myself in agreement with Iain Duncan Smith, too.

One of the first e-petitions on the UK government’s website to get over a hundred thousand and therefore meet their requirements for a debate in the House of Commons, is the loathsome demand that anyone convicted of rioting in London (but, apparently, not elsewhere) ought to lose “financial benefits” and their families should be collectively punished by  being evicted from council housing. (As John Perry noted earlier in the week, council housing isn’t welfare – the families evicted will probably cost the state more in benefits in private rented accommodation.)

The Change.org petition against evicting the innocent has reached nearly 2500 signatures, but nowhere near the 200K+ that vindictiveness demands.

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Filed under Riots, Scottish Politics

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