Saturday, May 14, 2011

From now you must jail EVERY burglar, British judges will be told

Judges and magistrates are to be told to send burglars to jail in instructions that end a decade of official leniency. Rules for the courts made public today said a criminal who burgled somebody’s home should ‘expect a custodial sentence’.

In a shift away from efforts to reform burglars, the rules put the harmful effect of crime on victims before the hope of rehabilitating offenders.

The least serious crimes will continue to attract community punishments, but the guidelines say only in exceptional cases should a domestic burglar escape jail.

Drawn up by the Sentencing Council, a body dominated by judges, the guidelines reflect an Appeal Court ruling by the Lord Chief Justice more than two years ago in which Lord Judge declared that ‘our homes should be our castles’.

They end a slide towards soft sentences for burglars which began in 2002 when former Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf said more burglars should be kept out of prison because few criminals were deterred by the threat of jail and community sentences were cheaper for taxpayers.

Sentencing Council rules demanding jail sentences and longer prison terms are also a rebuke to Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, who is pursuing a policy based on Lord Woolf’s thinking which encourages greater use of supposedly reforming community sentences.

Since 2000, the proportion of burglars convicted in the courts who are sent to prison has fallen from more than 50 per cent to less than 40 per cent.

The new guidelines, sent out for consultation, say that in cases of domestic burglary, where someone’s home is invaded, the offender should escape prison only in exceptional cases where there has been no break-in, where only low-value items have been stolen, and there are no aggravating factors.

Courts are told to concentrate on the impact of burglary on victims rather than theories on how criminals might best be rehabilitated.

Last year the Sentencing Advisory Panel said that in the most serious cases of domestic burglary, in which homes are wrecked or people are threatened with violence, the minimum sentence should be two years. The Sentencing Council said that should be three years.

For such crimes, it said the panel’s recommendation of a four-year maximum jail terms should be changed to six years.

In the case of the least serious burglaries, the council guidelines still allow a community sentence. But even the least serious offenders can be given six months in jail under the new rules, as against three months suggested by the panel last year.

Courts are also told that if a victim is at home during a burglary or suffers trauma, sentences should be more severe. The guidelines said: ‘The majority of domestic burglaries should receive a custodial sentence.’

Lord Justice Leveson, the council chairman, said: ‘Burglary can have a very serious impact on victims – it is very far from being only a crime against property. ‘As a result, we have ensured that the impact on victims is at the centre of considerations about what sentence should be passed on a burglar.’

He added: ‘The guideline does not reduce the severity of sentences being given to those convicted of burglary. Rather, it reinforces current sentencing practice that burglars targeting people’s homes can expect a custodial sentence.’

Javed Khan of Victim Support said: ‘We are pleased that victims are being considered in these guidelines.’


The right to protest is not exclusive to the Left

A new left-wing group defending the right to protest needs to defend the right of those they disagree with, too

Last Thursday, a newly formed left-wing campaign group, Defend the Right to Protest, held an emergency meeting in London in response to police tactics at anti-cuts and student fees demonstrations. The following day, a member of the right-wing protest group the English Defence League (EDL) was served with an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) restricting his right to protest. Has Defend the Right to Protest complained loudly about this shocking restriction on someone’s democratic rights? Not at all. Yet if this collection of left-wing activists is serious about defending the right to protest, it should unequivocally condemn the state’s curtailment of everyone’s rights of association and organisation – including those with whom we might disagree.

There ought to be no doubt that the EDL case represents a severe infringement of an individual’s rights. Over the next three years, 19-year-old Joel Titus is forbidden from attending any demonstration that is connected with the English Defence League or being ‘part of a group of 10 or more people whose actions could cause alarm or distress’. His ASBO from Uxbridge Magistrates Court also claims he must not ‘display a sign or placard or use defamatory or insulting language which could cause alarm or distress’. (What might constitute causing alarm or distress remains unclear.) He is also forbidden from entering mosques, Islamic prayer rooms or a defined area of Whitechapel in London.

What did Titus do to deserve such a punishment? Absolutely nothing EDL-related. Titus was instead convicted of a ‘section 4 public order offence’ and for obstructing a police officer as a result of an incident at a pub in Hillingdon, north London last year – an incident which the Metropolitan Police has confirmed to spiked wasn’t associated with EDL activities.

This use of an unrelated offence to remove an individual’s right to protest is the most insidious attack on the EDL’s political rights to date, yet protesting bans on EDL members are not new. In fact, this is the latest in a series of ASBOs that have been slapped on EDL members. In March, due to abuse he’d shouted at an Asian family at a train station, Shane Overton was banned from attending or organising any EDL demonstration or meeting or even visiting its website for 10 years. In addition, he was banned from travelling by train anywhere in the UK and from entering a mosque, meeting room, school or cultural centre.

And last December, two individuals pleading guilty to ‘disorderly conduct’ at an EDL march were given bans preventing them from engaging in EDL activities (including on the internet). They were also restricted from attending any protests anywhere in the UK that weren’t within a 10-mile radius of Birmingham.

Yet strikingly these affronts to civil liberties seem to have passed many of those on the left by. The newly convened Defend the Right to Protest group has yet to make any mention of these cases. Instead supporters complain about the fact that their pet project UK Uncut seems to have been ‘singled out’ for harassment by the police, blind to the fact that far greater restrictions to the right to protest are being routinely placed on the EDL.

This isn’t to downplay the importance of Defend the Right to Protest’s opposition to police actions, such as kettling and pre-emptive arrests. These do impinge upon our freedom to protest and should be stopped. And the official Defend the Right to Protest website is right to argue that ‘it is vital for all those who value our democratic right to protest to stand in solidarity with students and others who have been arrested or injured by police on these demonstrations’.

But it is equally as vital for those wanting to defend the right to protest to speak out against attempts to restrict the freedom of groups they may not agree with. After all, if, a few months down the line, left-wing activists start getting ASBOs preventing them from attending UK Uncut protests, then they will be in a poor position to protest – they turned a blind eye when such orders were imposed on others in the name of ‘public security’. Unfortunately there are precedents for such double standards. As spiked editor Brendan O’Neill has pointed out elsewhere, left-leaning liberals didn’t pipe up when police used authoritarian techniques against football supporters; they only started to complain when they start being used on them.

The idea of defending the right’s right to protest is not something certain groups on the left are likely to stomach. Indeed many have a terrible track record in terms of lobbying for No Platform policies to be applied to groups they don’t agree with. And left-leaning groups can often be found lobbying the state to try to get a demonstration they don’t agree with banned. Take Hope Not Hate, the group behind the anti-fascist publication Searchlight. It has promised to watch EDL demonstrations closely in the hope of spotting any members with ASBOs so it can then rat on them to the authorities. It seems that groups like Hope Not Hate have no problem with the idea of compromising the right to protest as long as the state only restricts the freedom of people with the Wrong views.

Defending the right to protest means nothing unless everyone has it, regardless of the content of their protests. Otherwise what exists is not a freedom to protest as one sees fit; it is a state-sanctioned privilege to protest as the authorities see fit. This is something that those on the left, who are now discovering the importance of defending the right to freedom of expression, would do well to remember.


Political Correctness Bullies and Libertards

The Miami Heat's LeBron James was publicly rebuked for saying "retarded" in a post-game interview during the NBA playoffs.

One Public Rebucker was Gary Blumenthal, CEO of the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers, who rebuked: "LeBron James offended millions of people with his use of the 'R'-word," thereby conflating the R-word with the racial N-word.

Another Speech Code Tyrant, chipping in with his own rebuke of "LeBron James should apologize immediately" was Peter Berns, CEO of the advocacy group The Arc.

So who decides what is or isn’t politically correct?

That would be a cadre of self-appointed thin-skinned sensitivity-saturated Political Correctness Bullies whose sole justification for existence is to publicly heap verbal abuse on anyone who utters the wrong word at the wrong point in history.

The Mother of all Ironies in all of this is that The Arc previously called itself the Association for Retarded Citizens of the U.S.

"Retarded" fell victim to what Steven Pinker calls the "euphemism treadmill." Earlier vulgar taboo words like "idiot," "imbecile" and "moron" gave way to "retarded" which gave way to the more cumbersome but suitably syrupy "mentally challenged," "intellectually disabled," "with learning difficulties," "developmentally disadvantaged," and "special needs."

One can only wonder what new sensitivity-sanctioned euphemism will eventually displace them all.

Meanwhile, can we expect Blumenthal or Berns to publicly rant against those who call libertarians "libertards"?

In case you’ve missed it, this too-clever-by-half locution, used repeatedly online, was coined by the big government statist masses who yearn to be taxed, subsidized, regulated, controlled, domesticated, neutered and coddled by the coercive collectivist state and is designed to slur freedom lovers as "libertarian retards."

Here’s an example of its usage: "Ron Paul is probably our country’s most famous Libertard. He is, of course, a moron." - (The F-word was self-censored because Examiner is a mainstream fuddy-duddy site.)

This means that people who use a derivative of "retarded" and the word "moron" are both anti-freedom and insensitive to special needs individuals – most likely Progressives with mile-wide hypocrisy streaks.

But libertarians embrace a live-and-let-live philosophy that includes freedom of speech. By their definition, then, a "retarded libertarian" is still immensely smarter than the smartest government-worshipper.

Libertarians welcome all freedom loving people, including "retards" no matter their currently fashionable euphemistic label, into their ranks.

Libertarians don’t need any euphemism-muttering Political Correctness Bullies advocating for them.


Belief in God is part of human nature - Oxford study

Humans are naturally predisposed to believe in gods and life after death, according to a major three-year international study. Led by two academics at Oxford University, the £1.9 million study found that human thought processes were “rooted” to religious concepts.

But people living in cities in highly developed countries were less likely to hold religious beliefs than those living a more rural way of life, the researchers found.

The project involved 57 academics in 20 countries around the world, and spanned disciplines including anthropology, psychology, and philosophy. It set out to establish whether belief in divine beings and an afterlife were ideas simply learned from society or integral to human nature.

One of the studies, from Oxford, concluded that children below the age of five found it easier to believe in some “superhuman” properties than to understand human limitations.

Children were asked whether their mother would know the contents of a closed box. Three-year-olds believed that their mother and God would always know the contents, but by the age of four, children start to understand that their mothers were not omniscient.

Separate research from China suggested that people across different cultures instinctively believed that some part of their mind, soul or spirit lived on after death.

The co-director of the project, Professor Roger Trigg, from the University of Oxford, said the research showed that religion was “not just something for a peculiar few to do on Sundays instead of playing golf”.

“We have gathered a body of evidence that suggests that religion is a common fact of human nature across different societies,” he said. “This suggests that attempts to suppress religion are likely to be short-lived as human thought seems to be rooted to religious concepts, such as the existence of supernatural agents or gods, and the possibility of an afterlife or pre-life.”

Dr Justin Barrett, from the University of Oxford’s Centre for Anthropology and Mind, who directed the project, said faith may persist in diverse cultures across the world because people who share the bonds of religion “might be more likely to cooperate as societies”.

“Interestingly, we found that religion is less likely to thrive in populations living in cities in developed nations where there is already a strong social support network.”

SOURCE (See the original for links)


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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