Mandatory Sentences

judge hand with gavel by Diane M Byrne

judge hand with gavel by Diane M Byrne

On December 11th an ex-soldier from Merstham will be sentenced. His crime carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. And what was this terrible crime Paul Clarke, 27, committed? He found a shotgun wrapped in a black plastic bag at the bottom of his garden and took it to the local police station to hand it in.

He had phoned ahead and arranged a meeting with Chief Superintendent Adrian Harper at Reigate police station. At the station Clarke took the the gun out of the bag and placed it on a table facing the wall for safety. He was then arrested for possession of a firearm.

Despite the fact there is no issue from the Surrey Police to inform the public not to touch any found firearms, it has been decided that Clarke is liable for the blunder, and his dutiful transportation of the weapon a criminal offence. This offence carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.

Commenting on the case at Guildford Crown Court Judge Christopher Critchlow said, “This is an unusual case, but in law there is no dispute that Mr Clarke has no defence to this charge… The intention of anybody possessing a firearm is irrelevant.”

So whether you think Paul Clarke is a honourable citizen or a bumbling fool, it doesn’t matter. He’s about to be chewed up by a ridiculous judicial system that seems to come down hard on the innocent, whilst treating criminals leniently. A system that is more preoccupied with sound-bites than doing what’s right.

Mandatory sentences for anything is wrong. It completely negates intent and circumstances. Life is not black and white, there are rarely absolutes. But whilst this is all an academic discussion for us, it is rather closer to Paul Clarke whose life is about to be ruined. One thing is for certain: our judicial system needs to change.

The Queen’s Gone Mad!

Today the Queen described a magical world where parliament is able to pass ten bills in seven months. Totally crazy of course, given that the conservatives and lib dems could defeat any bill that hit the lords, but hey, she’s an old gal, and just because she’s gibbering inanely, doesn’t mean we should be rude and point it out to her, does it?

Of course not! It’s not her fault at all – Gawd Bless her! – it’s those Labour rotters making her read out their pre-election manifesto, a last ditch attempt to sell their thousands of third class tickets for the labour-titanic fourth-term voyage. Election time is only seven months away (at the most!) and so far no-one’s buying.

The proposals include support for the most impoverished elderly, giving more powers to Ofcom and rather hilariously, a law promising to cut the deficit in half. How silly is that? Actually creating a law to guarantee they do the job they should just be doing! It’s the equivalent of Arnold J Rimmer spending all his pre-exam time working on the revision timetable.

This nonsense was noted by Nick “please don’t look at me lest you learn just how dull I actually am” Clegg who called it “fantasy politics” and called for the government to spend the rest of their term reforming our electoral system. Now that really is a fantasy!

David Cameron on the other hand had a confession to make. After claiming that the government had run out of “time, ideas and courage” he went on to say they were “acting like an opposition”. Damn right Davey boy, that’s precisely how our main opposition party have been behaving for years.

The election seems to have kicked off, and it looks like a dull depressing affair with no hope of salvation, just an inevitable slide to conservatism. It’s like an old war-criminal dying of old age, leaving his estate to a spotty slimy bigoted nephew. Or perhaps Macbeth being deposed, only to be replaced by his mad wife. Only swine-flu can save us now.

Ted Haggard, The Second Coming?

Everybody’s favourite hypocrite, Ted Haggard, has relaunched himself onto the public stage. Haggard, who was disgraced back in 2006 by a sex and drugs scandal, held a prayer meeting at his home in Colorado Springs on Thursday Evening.

At his height, Ted Haggard was an immensely powerful evangelist who claimed to have the ear of then-President Bush. However, everything for poor Ted came crashing down when it turned out he’d been seeing and taking drugs with a gay prostitute. Given that this was against everything he’d ever preached, we all found it hilarious (and ironically the closest thing to evidence I’ve ever seen for the existence of a god).

And now he is back! Using the prayer meeting as a possible launch pad for a new church he met with press outside his home.

“For the people who come tonight, that means they believe in the resurrection in me,” he said. “Because I died. I was buried.”

Is this a new beginning for Ted Haggard? I hope so, because with him representing Christians more people will be turned off religion entirely.

To see Haggard (pre-disgrace) check out Richard Dawkins’ documentary, “The Root Of All Evil” in which he interviews Haggard about evolution. If the man does not give you nightmares, you’re a stronger person than I.

Welcome back Ted!!

Alan Johnson Is Pro-Ecstasy!

After meeting with Alan Johnson, three more members of the ACMD (Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs ) have resigned: Dr Campbell, Dr John Marsden, and Ian Ragan. The reason for these further departures is the lack of respect given to the scientific community by the government. They claim that the government ignored their advice to keep Cannabis class C and instead upgraded it for – and this may shock you – political reasons! Yes, that’s right. The government was simply trying to grab a few easy votes!

Ok, maybe that’s not shocking, and in fact it’s obvious, but if you are a respected member of the scientific community, it’s a bit bloody embarrassing to look like you’re a part of such nonsense.

The question that needs to be asked is, why has Alan Johnson mishandled this so badly? The only possible answer I can fathom is that he must secretly be pro-legalisation, and is trying to reveal our society for the hypocritical druggy nation it is. The other option – that our home secretary is in fact a grossly incompetent nitwit (and a coward to boot) – is rather too grim to contemplate.

Sex Education? Vital Information!

365:225 by Lolie SmithA change in government policy means that parents can now only prevent their children from receiving sex education up to the age of fifteen. Previously it was nineteen. Yes, that’s right. Under previous rules a young person could be legally old enough to fornicate, yet their parents could prevent them being told what a condom was.

Despite this welcome change of policy, the current rules are still madness. Sex education is vital education, and a parent has no right to prevent their child receiving it. A child does not chose the family it is born into. It does not decide ‘I would like to be brought up as a conservative catholic’ any more than ‘I would like to be a godless liberal’. It is up to our schools to save the child from the failings of their parents. There should be no opt out for sex education, just as a parent should not be able to opt their child out of being taught evolution.

Denying a child vital information to allow them to operate in a modern society is abuse. It’s that simple. Just because the parent is a sexually repressed moron, doesn’t mean their offspring have to suffer the same fate.

The Folly of the Coward Alan Johnson

Once again drugs have become the hot-topic, with scientists being put in the firing line for politicians and journalists to make an easy killing and rouse their rabid followers in jubilant screams of blood-thirsty ecstasy.

Professor David Nutt was the first to go, sacked for speaking the truth about the dangers of illegal drugs vs legal ones. One particular comment that caused him to be targeted was claiming that ‘taking ecstasy was no more dangerous than riding a horse’. Of course this led to the Daily Mail Taliban rushing in to condemn such a claim. ‘He is trivialising the deaths of victims of drug abuse’ they babble incoherently, gnawing at their collars and pulling their burqas close. What these zealots fail to see is that it is not trivialising to compare one statistic to another. If anything, it is they who are belittling deaths, but not of those who perish from the extremely rare reaction to E but those who die from horse riding accidents. Does the Daily Mail not think these are regrettable deaths? No, clearly they think a horse riding accident is a trivial laughable thing, and those related to the deceased deserve no sympathy at all.

Since the removal of Professor Nutt two more members of the council have resigned in support. I salute them and hope more follow suit. The government has for too long ignored scientific evidence and instead chased ‘tough’ headlines in the tabloid press. It is ignorant, cowardly and the actions of a theocracy rather than a supposed rational liberal democratic government.

BNP List

Once again, the BNP are in the news; not just for the upcoming appearance of Nick Griffin on Question Time (an edition that is guaranteed to be a hoot!) but also for yet another leaked list of its membership.

At the moment, in the UK, we have a system of anonymity with our contributions towards the political process. The aim of this is a noble one: to free people from intimidation. However, it also has a negative repercussion, which is that it enables people to support unsavory political movements without that added hassle of “having to stand by one’s beliefs”. Another example of this is the typical “Tory bounce”, a phenomena when the Conservative party does better in actual elections than they appear from exit polls – because people are too ashamed to admit they voted Tory!

It’s probably also fairly important to note that the BNP deny the legitimacy of this list. Aparantly they have such few members that it’s very easy to quickly check.

For more information visit the BBC.

To honour this latest nonsense here’s a poem I wrote last year, resurrected by a news-cycle!


He once was a friend I hope you get the gist
I just saw my friend on the BNP list
The one in the news that you could not have missed
His name was right there on the BNP list

It hangs on my heart like a bloody great cyst
I just saw my wife on the BNP list
Those beautiful lips that I’ll no longer kiss
Because she was found on the BNP list

At first I was worried but now I am pissed
I just saw my dad on the BNP list
Shame brings me shakes in my tightly clenched fist
Why is his name there on the BNP list?

That should be the end but now there’s a twist
I just saw my name on the BNP list
Don’t like immigrants but I’m not racist
I’m not like the rest on the BNP list

Insult the Buggers!

The arrival of Geert Wilders to the UK is not just a victory for free speech, but also a victory for the possibility of change. Geert Wilders, for those who are not familiar with this story, is the Dutch MP who was refused entry to the UK in February on the grounds he supposedly incites religious hatred. These accusations are levelled at him because of his views on the Koran.

To quote the BBC:

‘Mr Wilders said he was not setting out to insult Muslims – the majority of whom were “law-abiding” – but he defended his right to criticise the actions of a minority who he said posed a threat to society.
“My aim is not to insult anyone but it is to defend freedom,” he said.’

Why is it, that even this man, is afraid to stand up and say, “the Koran – what a load of nonsense!”? It seems that everyone is falling over themselves to keep this “law-abiding community” happy. Surely if they are all law-abiding, he wouldn’t need to be so careful? The truth is he’s trying to stop himself being crushed under the weight of so many outraged religious nutbags, all demanding his head on a stick.

I don’t know where Mr. Wilders is coming from in his anger towards certain sections of Islam, and quite frankly, I don’t care. It’s about time people stopped apologising for their criticisms and went for the real problem: religion itself. Because it does not matter how extreme a person’s faith is, it’s still maintaining something is true without a shred of evidence, and such thoughts are corrupting.

Banning someone from your country simply because their views are currently unpopular is dangerous because it stifles the possibility for change. Sure, his views are not widely acceptable now, but in the future they could be considered the norm. When you clamp down on debate you are refusing your society to evolve, and something that doesn’t evolve will fail. I happen to believe that recreational drugs should be legal; should I be deported lest I corrupt the youth into a life of sin? Of course not, and one day my views will be the norm and everyone will wonder how it could ever have been otherwise. I also like to think, in the future, religion will be considered as foolish and illogical as homophobia or racism and thus these debates ridiculous.

As a lover of freedom, I think people should be able to practice any religion they please, however I also feel they should be told by a Dutchman that they’re an idiot.