Saturday, October 20, 2012
Top British female lawyer's career in tatters after assault conviction for pulling her 11-year-old daughter's hair during tantrum
A top barrister's career was under threat today after she was convicted of assault for grabbing her misbehaving daughter's hair.
The woman, 47, snapped after the 11-year-old started hitting her and trashing their home during a row over a sleepover, Burnley Magistrates' Court heard.
The youngster had earlier rung the police because she was furious at not being given money for a taxi to a friend’s house.
After officers came to the family home and told the girl off for the call, she began throwing clean and ironed washing down the stairs and repeatedly hitting her mother in the face with a jacket.
The unruly schoolgirl then slammed the lounge door so heavily that a chair smashed into a wall and knocked over a shelf, spilling DVDs and ornaments onto the floor.
The lawyer, who has been both a prosecution and defence barrister for 17 years, eventually lost her temper. She lunged forward from her own chair and grabbed the child’s shoulder-length hair, accidentally ripping out some strands, which were caught by her costume jewellery ring.
Today the barrister - who cannot be named for legal reasons, to protect the identity of the child - was facing a disciplinary hearing before the Bar Council after she admitted assault at the Lancashire court. She sobbed as she was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £85 costs.
Her counsel Mr Sephton Lee told the court that it was the barrister's birthday on the night of the assault earlier this month.
Mr Lee told the court: 'She had no plans to go out and celebrate. She had been drinking and perhaps it is fair to say that during the course of the evening, she drank a bit too much.'
He said the daughter had 'a bit of a tantrum' after returning from a friend's house and was demanding to be given money to go back there by taxi.
When she didn’t get any cash, the girl secretly rang the police. Officers arrived and spoke to the mother and daughter before admonishing the daughter for calling them.
Mr Lee added: 'Police clearly had no concerns about the daughter’s welfare or the mother’s level of intoxication before they left.'
The solicitor said the girl continued to misbehave until the mother got out of her chair to stop her.
He said: 'It's against all this background, she accepts she lunged forward towards her daughter and she accepts she grabbed her daughter’s shoulder-length hair.
'It would appear she has pulled some hair from her daughter’s scalp. It’s believed a costume jewellery ring which she has on her finger caught on her daughter’s hair, causing hair to get caught up in the ring and that was how the injury has occurred.'
'This was not a deliberate, intentional, malicious assault on her daughter. The mother was arrested, taken to the police station and interviewed and during the course of that interview, she expressed deep remorse and regret and she has asked me to apologise unreservedly to the court today.
'She is well respected by her fellow practitioners and the judiciary.
'There is no suggestion whatsoever that she is an unfit mother, quite the reverse. This is a tragedy for everybody, certainly for the girl and her mother.
'This is an isolated incident, when a loving, caring mother pulled her daughter’s hair in circumstances where, we would say, her daughter was behaving badly.'
The court heard that the lawyer had informed the Bar Council about what had happened. Her law chambers continue to support her and she will be travelling to London in the near future to account for her actions before the Bar Council.
Mr Lee said : 'The Bar Council will no doubt take a dim view of this matter and her ability to earn a living as a barrister may well be in jeopardy. This has been a very difficult case for the mother. These proceedings and the conviction today are significant punishment.'
Passing sentence, District Judge Nicholas Sanders told the woman: 'This is a tragic case on many levels.'
Britain’s high-tech Thought Police
British authorities target bloggers, tweeters, and t-shirt wearers for speech crimes
"What country has just sentenced a man to eight months in prison for wearing an anti-police t-shirt, and another man to three months in prison for telling an 'abhorrent' joke on Facebook? Iran, perhaps? China? No, it’s Britain."
Something has gone horribly wrong in Britain in recent years. The birthplace of John Milton (“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience”), and John Stuart Mill (“Every man who says frankly and fully what he thinks is so far doing a public service”), has become a cesspit of censoriousness.
The frequency with which the police and legal system now throw into jail anyone judged to have committed a “speech crime” is alarming.
On October 11, Barry Thew, a 39-year-old man from Manchester, was sentenced to eight months in jail—eight months!—for the crime of wearing a t-shirt that said, “One less pig — perfect justice”.
He donned the t-shirt just a few hours after two police officers were shot dead in Manchester, on September 18. Some members of the public took offence at his flagrantly police-baiting tee, complained to the cops about him, and before you could say “Fuck da police” Thew was being found guilty of committing a Section 4A offence under England’s Public Order laws—that is, he “displayed writing or other visible representation with the intention of causing harassment, alarm or distress.”
On October 8, Matthew Woods, a teenager from Lancashire, was jailed for three months for—get this—writing jokes on his Facebook page.
Currently, a five-year-old Welsh girl called April Jones is missing. Woods decided to make some jokes about this, writing on FB stuff like “Who in their right mind would abduct a ginger kid?” and “I woke up this morning in the back of a transit van with [a beautiful girl] — I found April in a hopeless place.”
Funny? No. Criminal? Apparently, yes. For telling these tasteless jokes to the infinitesimally small number of people who can see his Facebook page, Woods was found guilty under the Communications Act 2003 of sending “a message or other matter that was grossly offensive.”
The judge described Woods’ “crimes” as “abhorrent.” I find the state’s imprisonment of a teenager for telling jokes infinitely more abhorrent than Woods’ sad stab at creating lolz.
These are only the most recent incidents of people being banged up for saying “grossly offensive” things. Last month, Michael Coleman, a member of the right-wing British National Party, was given a suspended eight-month prison sentence and 240 hours of community service for using the word “darkies” on his blog.
He blogged about what he stupidly considers to be “the difference in personality, perceptions and values of people of darker races and ourselves” and said Britain’s current immigration policy amounts to “darkies in, whites out.” For this, for expressing his petty prejudices on a little-read blog, he was found guilty of racially aggravated harassment. The politician who brought the case against him said his crime was to express views that are “not acceptable to the overwhelming majority of local people.”
Social-networking sites are being subjected to the most stringent censorship. In July, a 17-year-old boy was arrested and questioned by police after he sent insulting tweets to British Olympic diver Tom Daley. The 17-year-old was spared jail but was issued with a “harassment warning.” In March, a 21-year-old student called Liam Stacey was sentenced to 56 days in jail for making crude jokes on Twitter about a then very ill footballer called Fabrice Muamba.
Last year, following the summer riots that rocked many English cities, two young men were jailed for four years for setting up a Facebook page called “Smash Down Northwich Town,” a reference to the town in Chester where they lived. The page was all about how cool it would be to have a local riot. No one accepted their invitation to riot, though; there was no “smashing down.” Yet still the two men were convicted of a public order offense, criminalized for being fantasists effectively.
I guess we should just be grateful that The Clash were never banged up for likewise giving voice to riot fantasies in their 1977 hit “White Riot”: “I wanna riot, a riot of my own.”
Now, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the body responsible for prosecuting crimes in England and Wales, is holding a series of meetings to clarify the law on tweetcrimes and FB misdemeanors, and to decide when it is legit, and when it isn’t, to bring criminal charges for trolling or inflammatory speech online.
I can save it a bucketload of time by telling it right now when charges should be brought against web-users for speech-based affrays: Never. Ever.
Speech is either free or it isn’t. And if it is, then that means everyone must have it—not just nice people, but also nasty people; not just the right-on, but also the racist; not just well-educated judges who use their free speech to spout BS about how abhorrent certain jokes are, but also immature tweeters, Facebook saddos, and unpopular bloggers who use their free speech to insult minorities or make bad gags about missing girls.
Granting the state the power to determine what is abhorrent and what is acceptable, which thoughts may be expressed publicly and which may not, is a dangerous game. At the moment, the state might “only” be locking up racist joke-tellers or teenage buffoons, but who knows who else might fall foul of today’s self-styled shapers of public morality. Blasphemers, perhaps? Queen Elizabeth-bashers? Sexist porno makers?
Allowing the state to determine the rightness and acceptability of words and ideas doesn’t only lead to gobsmacking levels of censorious authoritarianism—it also robs us, the public, of our right and our responsibility to work out what is true and to challenge what feels like dross in the arena of public debate. As John Milton put it 350 years ago, “Let Truth and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?”
The most worrying thing in Britain right now is the rise of the idea that individuals may be rightfully harassed and punished by the state if they hold views that are “not acceptable to the overwhelming majority of people,” as was said of the racist blogger.
That’s the end of eccentricity right there, of any element of danger and daring in public discourse. If being unpopular is seen as a sufficient justification for being arrested and put on trial, then who will ever dare put their neck on the line and say controversial, offensive, properly interesting things? The top-down enforcement of thought-policing doesn’t only mean we will see fewer racist ramblings and less teenage stupidity—it also means there’ll be less intellectual risk-taking, and a stifling culture of back-watching conformism.
Besides, society has no right to punish people just because the overwhelming majority of people don’t like what they say, as John Stuart Mill argued decades ago: “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.” Absolutely. Free all Britain’s tweeters, t-shirt wearers, and bloggers now!
‘Hate’ Laws are Criminal
The end of freedom of speech began with the invention of "hate crimes" as a means to deter and punish crimes committed against an individual or members of a designated or protected "minority." Hate crimes had their conspicuous genesis under the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which criminalized actions against individuals because of their race, color, gender, or national origin. This was the first major step away from treating individuals as individuals, and not as members of groups or tribes, and away from objectively defined crime.
Following it was passage of the Federal Hate Crime Law of 1969 (18 U.S.C. § 245(B)(2)) which, among other things, clarified or buttressed the definition of resistance to law enforcement officers, including preventing individuals from voting or the like because of their race, color, gender, and so on.
It was followed by the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which increased the penalties for "hate crimes."
This in turn was complemented with the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, signed into law by President Barack Obama. (Incidentally, this law was a rider to the controversial National Defense Authorization Act for 2010.) The Act's name refers to two individuals, one a homosexual tortured to death in Wyoming, and a black man who was tied to the back of a truck in Texas and then decapitated. In neither state existed a hate crime law relevant to their groups, and the perpetrators of both crimes were tried under normal capital crime law. The formal name of the Act was a gratuitous sop to special interest groups for political advantage.
The problem with the idea of a "hate crime" is that it appends an irrelevant motive to an action that would otherwise be treated as a felony, and makes the motive a felony, as well. Further, "hate crimes" are complemented by another invalid concept, "hate speech," also elevated to the status of a felony, that is, a crime. While criminal actions cannot be divorced from motives, up until recently motives were not punishable as state-defined and state-enforced crimes, only the fact of a criminal action. That is, a criminal action would be the initiation of force against an individual. The end or purpose of the initiation is irrelevant. It could be robbery, rape, or simply the malicious infliction of pain in revenge or as a means of visceral restitution.
This dangerous and totalitarian idea of "hate crime" has naturally migrated into the realm of speech. Now the act of expressing a "negative" stance on Muslims, homosexuals, and other "protected" groups is treated as a "hate crime" compounded by the crime of "hate speech." Both notions seek to punish the contentsof an individual's mind. However, no matter how repellant those contents, they can never be objectively known, not even when a defendant describes them. To make the contents of one's mind a legal liability, is a form of thought control.
There is a double standard in force, however. Rappers can denigrate women freely with as many obscenities as are in their vocabulary. Muslims can call for the death of anyone who "denigrates" Islam or Mohammad. Rappers are defended by the First Amendment. Muslims screamers and sign carriers are also protected by the First Amendment, regardless of how outrageously homicidal or offensive or intimidating their rhetoric, but exempted from being charged with "hate speech" because they are now a special "protected" class who are merely expressing their "pain" and "offended feelings." Muslims are even excused from actual crimes such as physical assault with wrist-slaps, even though they may have employed "hate speech" in the commission of a provable crime.
But Bryan Jennings, who got into an argument with a Muslim cab driver, and who expressed his feelings about the cab driver, was treated as a felon. He was fortunate that a judge ruled on the matter on a technicality created by a clueless and victimhood-seeking Muslim.
Muslim organizations such as CAIR and its numerous ideological affiliates such as ICNA (allied with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC) wish to convert the First Amendment from a guarantee of freedom of speech to a punishable "freedom from speech" tool to silence criticism, whether that criticism takes the form of scholarly disquisitions or crude cartoons or just plain from-the-gut expressions of dislike or fear of Islam and Muslims.
The concepts of "hate crime" and "hate speech," together or separately, are a form of totalitarian gangrene spreading throughout America's judicial system. Does anyone else see where this is leading?
The notion of Orwellian "thought crime," once regarded as an impossibility in this country, has in fact taken root, doubtless fueled by political correctness and politically correct speech and group warfare, with the consequence that more and more Americans - dare we say it? - are afraid to think. Because to think is to court disaster and put oneself in a potential state of double jeopardy. This is dependent on whether or not they even know there is an issue.
So, why bother to think?
Dark Ages do not just suddenly happen. They begin when men begin turning off the lights of their minds. There is only one duty an individual is obliged to fulfill, and that is to think, and that is for his self-preservation. Neglect that duty, or abdicate it, and one's life may or may not be preserved at the whim of another.
However, let's run down a short list of various notions of criminal law and how restrictions on freedom of speech can be rationalized and imposed by the state using criminal law at the behest of Muslims, their Islamic mouthpieces, and their "civil rights" advocates. Insofar as Islam is concerned, "hate speech" or a "hate crime" can be anything from satirizing Islam, Mohammad, or Muslims in a cartoon or video, to burning a copy of the Koran, to telling a Muslim to "go back where he came from," to innocuous jests, to writing a learned and critical treatise on Islam.
Attack on conservative judges
Selective outrage has long been the professional left’s stock-in-trade, but the over-the-top invective hurled at U.S. Court of Appeals judge Brett Kavanaugh this week has exposed something darker and more sinister than garden variety political hypocrisy. This smear is the latest flanking maneuver in an often-overlooked (but rapidly unfolding) front of Barack Obama’s “War on Capitalism” – the attempted castration of judicial review.
Angry that overreaching regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were struck down by Kavanaugh’s court, liberal columnist Steven Pearlstein penned what at first glance appears to be a boilerplate “kill the messenger” piece for The Washington Post, where the longtime leftist masqueraded for many years as an objective “journalist.”
But Pearlstein’s assault isn’t just a hit piece on a potential conservative Supreme Court nominee – it’s an effort to intimidate Kavanaugh (and other federal judges) into surrendering to the Nanny Statists currently running this country into the ground. Make no mistake: This is no conventional judicial character assassination – it is a carefully crafted instrument of political propaganda aimed at advancing the unchecked regulatory authority of an oversized, overreaching and overbearing federal bureaucracy.
“Kavanaugh is nothing more than a partisan shock trooper in a black robe waging an ideological battle against government regulation,” Pearlstein inveighs, accusing the judge of turning the courts “into just another dysfunctional branch of a dysfunctional government.”
Dysfunction? Consider this: Kavanaugh was nominated for his seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals by former president George W. Bush on July 25, 2003 – yet was blocked by Democrats on exclusively partisan grounds for more than three years. And now liberals want to play the “dysfunction” card against him?
Evidently. In fact according to Pearlstein, Kavanaugh’s refusal to rubber stamp Obama’s EPA overreach makes him a “judicial radical” in need of being reined in by “more intellectually honest conservatives” on the bench.
Pearlstein – who once referred to opponents of Obamacare as “political terrorists” – does his best to characterize Kavanaugh’s ruling as judicial activism run amok, but the facts of the EPA case simply do not support his conclusion. In attempting to subject states to new environmental penalties that far exceeded their culpability, the EPA plainly violated important language of the clean air statute – and Kavanaugh’s court ruled accordingly. In fact the EPA overreach was so galling that it was struck down on its face – as opposed to being classified as an “arbitrary or capricious” exercise of agency authority. In other words the government’s efforts to regulate which way the wind blows (and to fabricate untold costs associated with it blowing) constituted an unlawful usurpation of authority – not enforcement of the law.
Pearlstein also neglects to mention that the one judge who dissented in this case – Judith Rogers – has a history of “radical” activism far worse than anything he’s attempting to pin on Kavanaugh. In 2005, for example, Rogers wrote the court’s majority opinion in AFL-CIO v. Chao– a ruling that completely ignored statutory language on labor union disclosure requirements in favor of an invented standard that was infinitely friendlier to corrupt labor bosses.
This ruling occurred while Kavanaugh’s nomination was being stonewalled, incidentally.
So – was there a similar “judicial jihad” outcry from Pearlstein when regulations aimed at exposing union corruption were struck down? Of course not: Because that component of the “regulatory state” did not conform to his leftist ideology.
In this case ideology is everything.
Obama’s “War on Capitalism” includes a “War on Coal,” and the EPA is simply doing its part to make this energy source so expensive that other government-subsidized options become economically feasible. Obama’s administration couldn’t get a carbon tax pushed through Congress, so it is attempting to accomplish these objectives through regulation.
Will the left’s judicial smearing achieve its objective – advancing the ongoing crusade against what remains of the American free market?
It already has. Look no further than the recent “switch” committed by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts, whose fateful decision to appease this mentality turned what would have been a 5-4 ruling overturning “Obamacare” into a 5-4 ruling upholding the constitutionality of this abomination.
No wonder leftists like Pearlstein are doing everything they can to bully other judges to submit to the political correctness of the moment, defined by people like Steven Pearlstein.
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. Email me (John Ray) here.