God knows how Carty and Brown will repent

Every detail of the murder of Tom ap Rhys Pryce seemed calculated to provoke my middle-class anger. With every word, I could feel my heart turning into a bubbling, lid-flipping cauldron of fury, and when I looked at the faces of his killers -- Carty and Brown -- I felt something I have hardly ever felt in my life. I simply wanted them to pay. I thought how hard the 32-year-old Cambridge graduate had worked, how happy he was that he was going back to see his fiancée. I thought how she had been due to try on her wedding dress, and of the wedding plans strewn around his corpse. I thought what a nice chap he sounded, and how brave he had been to fight back with his bare hands in those last dark moments in Kensal Green; and then I thought of Carty and Brown, and how they had stabbed him and kept stabbing him in the head and the arms and the torso, even though he had already given them everything they wanted, which turned out to be nothing but a mobile phone and an Oyster card; and I thought how they composed moronic rap songs about killing and stabbing, and then I looked again at their blank, expressionless, remorseless faces and I am ashamed to say I was overcome with hatred. I wanted them to die. If you had asked me then and there whether I was in favour of capital punishment for Carty and Brown, I would unhesitatingly have said yes. Then I read the statement from Adele Eastman, his 31-year-old fiancée, about how she wished she had been at his side to hold him as he died, and the newsprint swam. It was only later, when I had recovered, that I brooded on her generosity and realised that she was right about one thing. We can be angry about Carty and Brown, and the way knife crime is increasing. We could wish London was run by someone other than this nincompoop Livingstone -- and quite frankly the streets of London are now so violent that I would vote for Dirty Harry if the Tories could persuade him to stand. But it is one thing to be angry; it is another to give way to hatred. Adele Eastman says there "will be no place for hatred" in her boyfriend's memory, and she is right. The minute we stop to think, we see how ugly our feelings are, and the hopelessness of bringing back capital punishment. Not only is it barbaric; there is the insuperable objection that innocents might be killed, and in any case it would involve the diversion of zillions of taxpayers' money to the human rights lawyers. We have to think of some other way of exacting vengeance on Carty and Brown; and as I look ahead at their "tariffs" of 21 and 17 years, I am not filled with hope. They will not have a nice time in jail. Although they are unquestionably nasty, they may meet people even nastier than they are; and yet there is no guarantee that their punishment will at any stage make them face up to what they have done. What we all want is for them to understand the sheer horror of their actions. We want them to open their souls and be suddenly harrowed and grief-stricken for the life they have taken away; and we want them to feel this remorse with all the intensity of someone facing his own execution. Instead of slouching through their term of incarceration, feeling vaguely misused by society, we want them to repent and to change. It is very difficult to see how this change might happen, except through one route; and that brings me to the current controversies about religion. Bourgeois Britain is going through a bit of a panic about the role of God in society, largely fuelled by nervousness of Islam. Attacks are made on faith schools, or on BA staff who wear the cross, and the idea seems to be that we can only voice reservations about one religion if we bash them all impartially. That is why Richard Dawkins is having such a soaraway success with an atheist tract called The God Delusion, and why Robert Kilroy-Silk can be clapped on Question Time when he calls all religions "fairy tales". Alert readers of this column will know that my own faith is a very feeble tinsel object. I sometimes think there might be some kind of celestial radio signal, but it is about as intelligible as Radio Tirana. There is a smart-aleck schoolboy side to me that exults with Dawkins as he teases the believers and demonstrates the biological absurdity of the incarnation, and I remember my fierce 11-year-old joy at reading the account of how the Darwinians destroyed the Creationists in that debate at Oxford. My only thought, as I stare at the faces of Carty and Brown, is that, if we throw out religion, then we lose a useful tool in changing lives. You and I lead comfortable existences, full of pleasure and interest, and generally so heavily regulated that we do not face that many moral challenges. We may feel that we do not have much of a spiritual void to fill. But look at these creeps, the shambles of "sperm fathers" and gang warfare and violence. It's not so much that they have been deprived of love, but that they have been deprived of authority of any kind, and our feminised paedophile-obsessed culture means there is less and less chance that they will find a male role model in the classroom. However ludicrous it may seem, religion sets boundaries; it suggests to bad and loveless people that they are loved. It provides a framework. Of course it would be nice if Carty and Brown were not recruited to some militant Islamic group; it would be nice if they turned to the good old milquetoast Church of England. But it doesn't really matter. We can't just string these people up. We can't flog them. We are forced to incarcerate and hope for the best. Before we go all the way with Dawkins and chuck out religion, we should look at the savage and remorseless faces of Carty and Brown, and reflect that, if we are to have any hope of changing them for the better, then God is a useful card for society to keep up its sleeve.

155 thoughts on “God knows how Carty and Brown will repent”

  1. >Alert readers of this column will know that my own faith is a very feeble tinsel object

    ..how couldn’t he achieve perfect redemption with such frank and amusing words

  2. Nice article.

    I do don’t agree with the death penalty but only because I don’t trust our justice system to actually provide justice. Too many times we have heard of police officers providing evidence because they ‘know’ it is him and he is just too clever to leave evidence.

    In a similar vein I don’t believe our system is there to reeducate everyone either. In most cases, yes. They could be reeducated as part of the punishment package because they will be reentering society but with cases like this they should never be let out and we want to punish them not give them a cushy life.

    I think we should remember that our justice system is set up to provide punishment for crimes not as a entry point for further education and helping hands.

    Crime and punishment. That is the process. We don’t have punishment so it is making crime worthwhile in our society. until it changes people like these get encouraged regardless of religious beliefs.

  3. Reading this on the train I was I was impressed, if I can put it this way, with the writers confusion. What possible rational or sane response is there to such horror?
    Boris feels the need for justice but also the bravery of Adele Eastman and her refusal to indulge in hatred , move him. They should move us all. His conclusions are a bewildering stew of anger doubt and sadness . Boris has always been the politician who retains humanity
    I am a theoretical supporter of the death penalty for certain crimes. In this country convictions would be impossible and the police would get it wrong so in practice I am against it.
    I will politely ignore the feeble stuff about god being a useful social tool although I have no doubt god is very flattered if he exists.
    The social problems that Boris hints at are the way we stop this sort of thing happening. Restore society to the working classes. Stop undermining the father, the family, the work ethic and the continuous community. Stop ghetto fodder immigration and get the police to get on with their damn jobs instead of politicising and smarming their way around the figures. Longer sentences that mean what they say also it is way past time for a three strikes and you are out initiative. One strike and you are out ,for good, for this .

    Yes we can fit more in prison, with proper sentences less crime would be committed and in and case most of them only go back. Also get the mentally ill of the street and out of prison and back into modern caring institutions.

    By the way Boris , why does it take a nice middleclass chap getting offed to stir your ire . You are aware that decent people live in fear of stabbing and guns throughout London who may be black and may wear a youthful hood . Don’t they matter ?. These are the very people most at risk, most in need of Conservatism .

  4. Yes, the death penalty is wrong. Yes, our government has wrongly identified masculinity as wholly abhorent, resulting in a shortage of male role models. Yes, we need to instil our society with a code of right-and-wrong beyond the woolly anything-goes ethos of New Labour. But no, I don’t think that strength of feeling excuses irrationality.

    We can have a strong code of ethics without mysticism. The idea that belief in God is the only thing that keeps up from moral freefall is misguided. With rationality under sustained attack from NuLab relativism and a preference for comforting make-believe over hard reality, it’s important that we make a stand for sound values, backed up by something more substantial than supernatural beings.

  5. I should add that I am a sucker for the traditions, rituals and morals of the church, even if I don’t believe in God. When I got married, the vicar told me that love is god. And I can’t see anything wrong with that.

  6. It is significant to me that I read this on the day that I received a letter from Michael Howard explaining why I was sacked as a Conservative candidate at the last general election. I’m even blamed for your sub-editorship at The Spectator, Boris! The propensity for people to purposely misunderstand and misrepresent religion, and therefore politicians who know anything about it or who dare to write about it, is a great cause for concern in this increasingly religious age in which we live. I am pleased you write about the need for the rediscovery of the spiritual – even if it’s wrapped in tinsel. Politics and religion are much closer than race and creed, and the more MPs there are who comprehend this, the more enlightened will our politics and policies be.

    When Boris talks of a yearning for religion, a desire that faith may play an active role in society and the process of justice, he refers, of course, to Judeo-Christian doctrine and the traditions that have influenced and shaped the culture of Western Europe for the past 2000 years. These are now directly challenged, not only by Islamism, but also be secularism, which eliminates a principal motive from the business of dispensing justice. The death penalty may have had the advantage of dispatching the offender to meet his or her maker, but forgiveness and grace are the harder path to walk, and maybe just possibly a more beneficial one to society. Of course the Judeo-Christian tradition permits capital punishment, yet context changes, society is fluid, and doctrine adapts. There must be a reformative role in the dispensation of justice, whatever our baser human instincts may demand. To entertain otherwise is to remove all hope.

    Since I teach adolescent boys, whose intellects seek to grapple with the complexities of these issues day after day, it is interesting that Dawkins is now pouring millions of pounds worth of his atheistic literature into schools, under the guise of scientific rationalism. In a few decades, he will have attained his goal, and religious yearnings like yours will indeed be little more than tinsel.

  7. Adrian the significance of the Michael Howard letter is still opaque to me. Can you share it ; sounds interesting ? I think you will find that neither the Jews or the Christians were the first to discover murder is wrong. In fact, as Bertrand Russell pointed out , if God discovered it , he left himself with a bit of logical pickle . Could he have picked charity to be wrong?
    I would argue myself that the secular tradition of this country is responsible for that which I chiefly admire and while I like all the religious paraphernalia it is a pretty despairing thought that we are incapable of moral life without the presence of a big invisible friend..or three.
    I would be fascinated to know how you think religion could usefully add to political life which is about arrangements between people . Do you think god would join the Conservative Party , I doubt he would get on the A list ? Too old , and not a woman .

  8. In seventeen years carty and Brown will likely be free, free to live their lives, free to fall in love, free to marry, free to have children and free to make use of every opportunity that they took in so savage a manner from an innocent. This is not justice, they should never have the right to freedom again and neither should anyone else who has murdered (or in many cases committed “manslaughter”) an innocent person. They have not been put in prison because of their characters, but because of their actions so whether they become reformed or not is of no interest to justice. A lack of revenge does not mean a lack of justice. It is justice to put these men behind bars for the rest of their days not revenge.

  9. I fully understand Boris’ response, from its initial rage to its final rationality. But for myself I have come to believe that news stories like this are deeply poisonous. In what way does it inform me and instruct me: none. What can I do about it: nothing. I have come to believe that we are fed these awful stories, day in, day out, simply to lower our spirits, fill us with fear, and make us demand more laws and heavier punishments.

    As for Dawkins, I will not be reading his book. He is himself as much as zealot as those that he condemns. When he has something better with which to replace religious belief, I will hear him out. But he has nothing. So I won’t bother.

  10. Surely we should all be interested in the truth, whether that means that there is no god, a Christian God or whatever. The faithful can pose all sorts of unanswerable philosophical questions as a means of confounding non-believers, but the fact remains that evidence for the existence of god(s) is purely anecdotal. By contrast there is a mountain of hard evidence to support the secular view of the world, so surely this remains our best bet.

    At a time when cultural relativism is destroying our sense of right and wrong, promoting a intellectual free-for-all by officially sanctioning religious belief is unhelpful. There are more reasons to behave in a civilised manner than appeasing a vengeful god.

  11. It is justice to put these men behind bars for the rest of their days not revenge.

    IT would be justice to shoot them down in the street like dogs.Is justice really what you want K ?An eye for an eye.

  12. Actually this is interesting because punishment is just about the only topic for which I do draw answers primarily from my faith.

    The sermon on the mount is the principle source, and says that we’re all guilty, so none of us should punish others. This squares with my own logic, so that’s one principle I stand by. As such, punishment for me should never be vengeful, but rather either preventative or reformative, and nothing else.

    I feel that avenging passion too when reading a story like that, though the two that always stir the most are those of the Moors Murders, and of Fred and Rose West. Actions like this not only terminate someone’s life in pain, but usually leave behind a trail of loved ones who are scarred for life. In the moors murders, Mrs West had to positively identify her 10 year old daughter’s voice on a tape, made as she screamed and begged for her life. Those screams stayed with her for the rest of her tormented life. For years she had to take valium and sleeping tablets to cope with the nightmares, until she finally died of cancer. Frankly dying of cancer sounds like a wonderful thing in comparrison.

    But like Boris, and I’m sure all of us, I’m filled with admiration for his fiancée. And this again reminds me of my faith, which (against the typical Christian contradiction) says that God is merciful (as opposed to just). For as long as those people present a threat to society I think they should not be free to act out the threat, and ideally progress will be made towards ensuring that they don’t ever want to, although I realise this may not be easy to bring about. But if they no longer present a threat, then I think they should be released, and given the chance to lead the lives they should have done from the beginning.

    Here is where ‘religion’ is important. My secular, rationalist, natural law type side says that they should be punished, like-for-like (not so much these two, but Myra Hindley, Fred and Rose West certainly). There is a case for mercy from a non-religious viewpoint, and in a sense it’s that case which I’m following, but I probably wouldn’t be doing so if Jesus hadn’t set the example for me.

    However do be careful of religions, almost all are inherently violent, all are full of falsehoods, and almost all can lead to fanatical fervour and prejudice. In reality they all mirror the people that created them, which is usually not a good thing.

    Oh and incidentally Boris, all the worst moments in religious history have been when society plays that useful God card they have up their sleeve. In my view God should be left to individuals, and kept as far from society as possible.

  13. Yes justice is what I want, but I do not believe in the death penalty. Apart from all the normal anti-death penalty arguements why should these men get such an easy opt out from punishment. Let them spend their entire lives behind bars rather than letting them become martyrs.

  14. Boris’s bleeding heart over the death penalty is typical of this new social democratc “Tory” Party. I do not believe in the death penalty in every case but the murder of this solicitor is a clear case for execution. People worry about executing the wrong person; this is highly unlikely with modern rules of evidence and forensics.
    Do the same people care about the 40 -50 people murdered every year by alleged nutters released into the community by psychiatrists/psychologists? I cannot think of any other profession that could survive such a failure rate.

  15. Jack
    I knew a girl who was raped and murdered and I fail to see why her killer should get freedom just because he is no longer a threat to anybody else, which lets face it considering the rates of reoffending by criminals who have been released seems pretty difficult to get right anyway. He and other murderers had their chance the same as every other person and yet they used they chance at life to destroy someone elses in a cruel and savge way. Yet they still have they chance at life so why should they get their chance at freedom too, just because they claim they will not do it again? It is too late. The fact that sex offenders are never allowed to work in certain areas does seem to prove that the government knows that there is chnce that even those who have served their time will re-offend.

  16. There’s no objective way of deciding whether capital punishment is as bad as murder. After all, killing is killing. However, I find the idea of the state being empowered to kill its own civilians chilling and the height of hypocrisy.

    If you are an atheist, then you see your time on earth as your one shot at existence. Whatever your crimes, you deserve to be protected from having this beautiful privilege called life being snatched away by others. And by others, I don’t just mean violent individuals; I also mean the state.

  17. There are more reasons to behave in a civilised manner than appeasing a vengeful god.

    And, pray, what are they?

    One of the disasters of the Enlightenment was that, while it gave us a magnificent edifice of science, it did not provide us with an equivalent ethics. The result is that we remain as morally ignorant as once we were scientifically ignorant, and Christianity remains our broken moral compass, even if none of us ever go to church.

    What on earth is the point of someone like Richard Dawkins bashing God, when he is doing nothing other than hacking away at all that remains of a religion (and by ‘religion’ I return to its Latin roots for its meaning as ‘what binds together’ to make whole) that has provided the moral compass of European society for 1500 years or so, for good or evil.

    I would be perfectly happy to see it replaced with something more true and rational, but all I see in the vacuous and contemptible Dawkins, if anything, is a hideous Darwinism.

  18. Jack target has no concept of justice at all I his remarks and I therefore cannot see what bearing they can have on a crime. It is a great weakness of Christianity that by making love central to its concerns it abandoned the older Jewish tradition of justice. Love without justice and truth is hateful thing , it is in fact ,” hate” . Hate for the victim. Perhaps that why I admire the Jews so much , and Israel actually.

    K- is right in everything she says today but why not the death penalty . K perhaps you thought I was being ironic when I said they should be shot on the street like dogs ? OK what about public hangings , the martyr point is a red herring and you know it . It would be right. What right have you to forgive? What right have any of us ? Justice is a life for a life and if any of mine were killed I would not have the slightest hesitation in shooting the perpetrator dead , in fact I would feel it my duty unpleasant though it might be . What would you do K , not want to dirty your hands ?

  19. Tayles I can usually rely on you for thinking but you are confusing sqeamish with moral. Some crimes clearly deserve death . Death should therefore be the punishment .
    How can that be wrong?How can it be right that the clear and sustained wish of the lelctorate in this matter is ignored

  20. My utter contempt for Dawkins became final when I was watching “The Root of All Evil” early this year. It was a programme in which he went around the world baiting and annoying relgious leaders of every kind.

    The death knell sounded when he said (and this is written from memory and so may not be exact): “Good people do good things, and bad people do bad things.” At that moment I realized that Dawkins was a dwarfish simpleton, next to whom absolutely any moral philosopher one might care to name was a giant.

    The man is a disgrace to science, a disgrace to reason, and a disgrace to history.

  21. Bravo for your comments in the Telegraph today. These two pieces of scum should rot in hell for the rest of their lives for what they have done. Our hearts go out to his poor fiancee. Why is it that decent people every day are the victims of this counties rising totally amoral yob culture? We are sick and tired of listening to mealy mouthed politicians banging on about crime and then doing nothing to prevent these people from walking our streets. These types of criminal and, let’s face it, there are plenty more like them, don’t care about other people or what they have done. They are selfish amoral morons. Worse still we are importing more like them them daily. Almost everyone one speaks to, from the postman to the gardener to girl behind the checkout at Tescos, we’re all sick of the underlying threat that these people pose to anyone who even looks at them in the wrong way and want something to be done about it!!!!

    Why is it that that the law in this country is all about protecting the criminals, giving them a second chance when their victims have none?

    Personally we are totally in favour of the death sentence – why should the tax payer have to pay to keep these wastes of space alive?

    Please, keep the dialogue going..

  22. Newmania,
    Yes, you are right-it is not our place to forgive those who have committed crimes against others. Those who have murdered do deserve to die and I would have no hesitation in having those who have murdered killed. If governments are prepared send young soldiers to their death everyday, what is so wrong about the death penalty for murderers.
    BUT, what if we get it wrong-only recently I have been reading about a man who spent eleven years in prison for a murder he did not commit, if the death penalty had been in place this innocent man would have been executed. On the other hand if the death penalty was in place many lives would have been saved as it is the best deterrant and would hve prevented murderers reoffending. Plus the loved ones of the victims would not have to spend years tortured in the knowledge that he ones who destroyed their loved one was free on the street living their life.
    However, there is a big problem today with murderers only being convicted of manslaughter (apparently if you beat someone around the head with a hammer because they refuse to leave their husband it is not murder)so I think iof the death penalty was introduced we would see a decrease in murder convictions. What this country needs is a decent justice system so that people feel as if they are supported and that criminals are no longer nurtured.

  23. Some crimes clearly deserve death – newmania

    Sorry newmania old buddy, but your response takes for granted the very issue that we are in disagreement over. It may be clear to you that these two criminals should die, but I disagree. You would need to convince me that killing criminals is not state-sanctioned murder to win me over. Reiterating your own view isn’t really enough.

    It’s a bit like the old abortion debate. Anti-abortionists consider the practice to be murder. But the standard calls for freedom of choice ignores this fact and, by inference, suggests that anti-abortionists are insufficiently tolerant of murder.

  24. Christmas

    Cold winter morning
    We walk along the hedgerows
    Looking for Sloes to pick…

    The bones of a bird
    On the field track
    Not saying a word…

    Sharing his wool knit cardigan
    Trembling we kiss
    Watched by starlings…

    Lady Mucca, 30 November 2006
    for Bee xxx

  25. newmania:

    _Jack target has no concept of justice at all I his remarks_

    Yes I do:
    “But like Boris, and I’m sure all of us, I’m filled with admiration for his fiancée. And this again reminds me of my faith, which (against the typical Christian contradiction) says that God is merciful (as opposed to just)”

    Admittedly it only got one word, and that was in a sentence placing myself in oppostition to it, but still, the concept is there 🙂

    “My secular, rationalist, natural law type side says that they should be punished, like-for-like (not so much these two, but Myra Hindley, Fred and Rose West certainly).”

    Is an example of my own concepts of justice, but as I said they get over-ruled by my faith, and a desire for mercy instead.

    Tayles is probably going to bite my head off for saying something like this, but all humans are equally bad in my opinion. The fact that I don’t go out and stab people for an oyster card (or cut off people’s knee-caps, or rape 10 year old girls and make tape recordings of them) is not that I’m somehow better at resisting those temptations, I simply don’t have them. I do have other temptations though, which on the whole I prove wholly inept at avoiding. Those people aren’t any worse than me for giving in to their temptations, they were just unfortunate enough to have ones which are more dangerous to those around them, and to society. That’s why they need to be locked up, and I don’t, despite the fact that we’re morally equivalent.

    Now I realise this may not be a popular suggestion, but still, I believe it.

    There is also the bigger and broader point of society as a whole, and “the myth of redemptive violence”, as some people call it. That somehow violence repaying violence can be a good thing, which many don’t believe, including myself. I also admire the Israelis, but if you asked them if violence in response to violence is a good thing, do you think many would agree? This viewpoint, which again I agree with, says that violence in reality creates a cycle which is hard to escape, and that the alternative to this is forgiveness and reconciliation, leading to peace, harmony, and wholeness of individuals and societies. Again, following the example of Jesus.

  26. Idlex-I only meant Jack includes no discussion of “justice” in his post and that he can therefore have little to say about crime and punishment.
    I don`t think Dawkins is a simpleton by the way but he is not a moral philospher.He does not , at least , hide in obscurity as most of those do

  27. Tayles-“I find the idea of the state being empowered to kill its own civilians chilling and the height of hypocrisy.”

    What about “being empowered” to kill other countrys’ civilians(eg. wedding parties in Afghanistan)who are no threat to us whatever,unlike our own recently released murderers over here?
    Unless you are a pacifist (and im not)then you are the hypocrite ,Tayles.

  28. Jack Target: Tayles is probably going to bite my head off for saying something like this, but all humans are equally bad in my opinion.

    *CHOMP*

  29. K – You have immediately focussed on my real objections to the death penalty. You would never get a conviction and the process is untrustworthy , especially the police. Boris himself mentions it and I think for many of us it is thereafter an academic point.
    I think it is useful exercise to know where you stand on moral question though. It has implications for what we actually do .

  30. What about “being empowered” to kill other country’s civilians (eg. wedding parties in Afghanistan) who are no threat to us whatever, unlike our own recently released murderers over here? Unless you are a pacifist (and im not)then you are the hypocrite, Tayles. – Insomniac

    I never said that I thought all killing is murder, and therefore wrong. I support abortion, for instance, although some consider it murder. And since I am not a pacifist, I accept that in war there is bound to be loss of life among non-combatants. I am not a hypocrite for thinking that the criteria for justifiable killing are not black and white.

  31. Jack if you have said you believe we are all sinners and that we are unable to make any moral choices outside our predetermined appetites . When I look inside myself I know this to be false .When I see the way people behave and the way the are capable of behaving I know this to be false .Not only specifically on moral choices but everything about the concept of predetermination strikes me as an imploding sophistry that we all know is wrong. It is no more profound a thought than the old “is my green your green” or solipsism . A logical parlour trick that impresses , if at all , momentarily
    You are consistent , in a sense , By your lights the rape of 10 year old is not immoral , for without responsibility moral transgressions are just the tracks our trains happen to run down It is inconvenient for the girl and for society ,. It should be dealt with perhaps by a branch of the waste recycling or hygiene department .
    Well the conclusion is obvious .As we are now in world of amoral convenience the cleanest cheapest thing to do would be to shoot the offender thus avoiding the possibility of re offence and dissuading others . In your amoral world Jack we might do much the same for graffiti artists or those who beep their horns in built up areas.
    What a very clean and neat life will be left for the survivors.
    This suggestion does not merit the description “unpopular”. Barmy , crackers , ga ga ar amongst the army of more suitable adjectives…..in my humble opinion and I wouldn’t be so sure you have Jesus on your side. Not that I personally care much.

    Now you suggest we should behave immorally , by rewarding sin with mercy, whilst allowing virtue to suffer. This you argue is because there is a greater practical good of “peace”. It is true such decisions often have to be made , for example we are wrong to torture , but right to torture in wartime to save lives in certain circumstances. In the real world I agree the lines are rarely clear . I disagree however that this fact should oblige us to dispense with the notion of acting with rightness and justice at all .We may negotiate with these values but we must know them and acknowledge them. As for forgiveness , that is the property of the murdered man .Whilst Carty and Brown may repent we can be pretty certain that poor Tom will not recover. That is the special evil of murder and why there is no forgiveness. There is only comfort. Sadly that so often seems to be what the Liberal wing of the Church of England continues to offer.

  32. Tayle- I am not a hypocrite for thinking that the criteria for justifiable killing are not black and white.

    No but if they were , and sometimes they are, would you support the death penalty ?If so then we are down to cases which is a rather different discussion

  33. Lady Mucca , by the way , you remind me a bit of William Carlos Wiliamson and sometimes I really like your stuff

    This Is Just to Say
    by William Carlos Williams

    I have eaten
    the plums
    that were in
    the icebox

    and which
    you were probably
    saving
    for breakfast

    Forgive me
    they were delicious
    so sweet
    and so cold

  34. A curious flip-flop of a piece this week, all gooey and wobbly and lacking Mr J’s normal guts and grip.

    Unlike Peter Tatchell’s robust and thought-provoking defence of the West Papuans on the Guardian site today.

    http://tinyurl.com/yy5q25

    Pinch me! Am I really saying this?

  35. The main argument that I have previously read in favour of the death penalty (citation not needed) is that it is a deterrent to murder and violent crime.

    idlex – perhaps this is the quote you are referring to, which may have been used by Dawkins:

    According to the Nobel Prize winning physicist, Steven Weinberg: “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

    Jack Target – sorry I disagree with you completely except on the Fred and Rose West issue (let’s hear it for the married family Mr Hitchens) There are some things that require some degree of retribution.

  36. Ok, Lady Mellifluous (aka Lady Mucca)

    That just about passes our screening, wouldn’t you say Jaq?!

    Let’s all have lunch one day

  37. BTW JAQ Cameron on crime in the Standard and on Livingstone and (my new best friend)Trevor Phillips . All highly encouraging. He is a good man I am certain of it. (Quick to sympathise with Gordon Brown as I am sure we all are ..so sad)

  38. Newmania – the Evening Standard? Can’t get that I’m afraid.

    The Trevor Phillips (here) that since March 2003 has been chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality and of whom Ken Livingstone claimed had “denounced” him as a racist during the first London mayoral election in 2000, when he had “a brief sort of black power fling”, and added “Ever since then he’s gone so far over to the other side that I expect soon he’ll be joining the BNP,”?

    Yes, so sad for Gordon Brown and family. Best wishes for a hopeful future.

  39. Whatever your crimes, you deserve to be protected from having this beautiful privilege called life being snatched away by others. And by others, I don’t just mean violent individuals; I also mean the state. (Tayles)

    I agree with this.

    But rather than simply lock up all the Fred Wests and Myra Hindleys of the world, and throw away the key, it seems to me that such people should be required to talk and write openly about themselves and their lives, simply so that knowledge be gained of the nature of such people. They should be interrogated. There may be much that can be learned.

    To the best of my knowledge, however, this isn’t done.

  40. Good article, Boris.

    As for Godless Newmania, whatever you do, don’t argue with him, Boris, the man has frightening powers of retribution. I’m sure he’s put his mockers on me. A photo of what your curse has done to me will follow, Newmania, once I’ve taken it – that’s if your website will accept photographs.

  41. Interesting chat as always but I see almost no mention of shame or deterrence.

    In a world dominated by human rights the concept of opprobrium has been destroyed, yet it is one of the most powerful corrective forces at our disposal.

    I don’t want these murderers murdered by the state. I want them shamed, ridiculed and scorned – and not just by The Sun with us sitting comfortably in an armchair.

    The most effective weapon against scum who demand “respect” is for ALL of us to show them the ultimate in disrespect.

    Bring back the stocks. Or a modern equivalent. Any ideas?

  42. Ok newmania:

    Of course I believe we’re all “sinners”, I wouldn’t be a very good Christian if I didn’t! The “sins” may be small, but everyone has them.

    But your line of reasoning is completely different to my own… Firstly, I do not believe that this amounts to predestination. Firstly, sinners is not the be all and end all, every person does good too, though occassionally it might be outweighed by the bad. Just because people are tempted towards bad and give in to it sometimes, that does not imply predestination, and does not devalue good either. Also I’m not saying that because we have temptations and give in to them sometimes, that somehow we are being blown about by our appetites the entire time. That would be taking a fairly negative view of humanity!

    By your lights the rape of 10 year old is not immoral

    This is of course not true. However, ‘by my lights’ the rape of a 10 year old girl is just as immoral as telling a malevolent lie (this bit is another cue for Tayles bo chomp). As I said before, the fact that I don’t rape 10 year old girls is not that I’m better at resisting temptation than those who do, but because I have a different set of temptations. We’ve both failed equally, he failed to resist his temptations and I failed to resist mine – his just happen (unfortunately for him) to be much more destructive, and consequently we have to incarcerate him for other’s protection. But not because he hate him or think he’s a worse human being than us, only to protect other people in society.

    As we are now in world of amoral convenience…

    Again, I don’t see exactly how you got to this conclusion. The fact that people are both good and bad, even the fact they they are good and bad in equal measure does not invalidate or make irrelevant the concepts. What it does do though, is to remove the goal of improving our own moral standing. This leaves you with two choices, you can either decide that since you can’t boost everyone’s impression of your morals, you might as well be evil; or you can decide that even though your own moral standing isn’t affected, you can behave well for the good of other people.

    “I wouldn’t be so sure you have Jesus on your side.”

    I’m sure you’re right! Jesus would have had some amazing third option, redeeming everyone on the spot. Unfortunately those kinds of options tend not to be open to us. It’s the problem with the WWJD (“What Would Jesus Do?”) idea, that what Jesus would have done is often beyond our abilities.

    “Now you suggest we should behave immorally , by rewarding sin with mercy, whilst allowing virtue to suffer.”

    Now I most definitely did not suggest we should behave immorally! I don’t think that mercy is a ‘reward’ for sin, I think it’s neutral, and I don’t see why being merciful should reuire virtue to suffer, quite the opposite in fact. And besides, while this has been focussing on how we treat criminals, on a nearly unrelated note if people are being virtuous then I think rewarding them might well be a good thing to encourage more of it!

    But even so, I definitely didn’t suggest we should behave immorally. Prisons should still be a deterent to those whom they deter t the moment, and the concepts of good and bad should not disappear. However, I wonder very much how much I’d like to be part of a species where everyone only ever avoids evil because of selfish fear of the consequences. That is a very depressing thought for me, and I would like to have more faith in us than that, targetting people in different ways with education about the benefits of acting for ‘good’ rather than ‘evil’!

    “but right to torture in wartime to save lives in certain circumstances.”

    I disagree, I think that torture is always wrong. What it is in that situation is necessary and justifyable, but it’s not right. I would support a lesser evil to prevent a greater one, if I were convinced that it was the best way to do so, but just because it’s the lesser of two evils, that doesn’t make it good. That would be introducing moral subjectivity (Tayles, back me up here).

    “As for forgiveness, that is the property of the murdered man. … That is the special evil of murder and why there is no forgiveness.”

    This may be true, but to me it would beg the question of just how important forgiveness is anyway. If Carty and Brown want forgiveness, and it cannot be given, then I feel sorry for them. For myself, if I were in their situation, I would not be chasing forgiveness, as I would know it is out of grasp, and of no real value anyway.

    Being forgiven does not remove the initial pain from those who suffered, all it does is suggest (and often wrongly) that that pain is no longer continuing, or at least not as strongly. Tom’s pain is already over, so his forgiveness is worthless. His fiancée on the other hand is still suffering, and she can forgive them for the pain that they caused her if she wants to. Judging from what little we know about her I’d guess they might even get it.

  43. Jack
    You seem to be forgeting one fundemental point when claiming we are all equally moral: that of choice.
    We all have the choice to do right or wrong. The fact that some people do what they want regardless does not mean they are victims of temptation.

    it concerns me that people seem to constantly cite infamous killers as people who should suffer particulary bad sentances. While I do not disagree for a moment with this it seems that it is the media who decides who the worst criminals are not the actual crimes. A case in point is Ian Huntley (who deserves to spend his life behind bars). He got a much higher sentance than other child killers simply because his crime was in the media so much. It seems that if someone is unfortunate enough to be murdered during big brother season or a political scandal the murderer will get a much lighter sentance and is almost granted unofficial annonimity by the press. How many people can name the killers of Kriss Donaldson, Sarah Payne, Louise jenson etc? Recently two men who murdered a woman with an axe got sentances of just twelve and nine years, yet there is not one complaint from the press because her murder did not attract much attention. The justice system should not allow those who escape media attention to also escape justice.

  44. newmania – the conditions for considering killing to be acceptable are very much a grey area. However accidental killing in self-defence and the defence of others is acceptable to me, as is abortion. In times of war, quite clearly the normal rules of society do not exist, so a certain amount of killing is inevtiable.

    Getting back to the death penalty, my main objection is that most people accept that the deliberate taking of a life in peacetime society is the most heinous crime of all. So why is it acceptable if the state undertakes it? It can only be that we consider the motive to be the issue.

    On this basis, is the hate we feel for wrongdoers a legitimate and estimable sentiment, and a reasonable excuse for deadly revenge? I think not. This attitude encourages the idea that killing per se is not wrong. It creates a culture in which death and killing are acceptable, and where revenge, rather than maintaining the safety of society, is the issue.

  45. Flo – perhaps you might email the picture to Melissa?

    PaulD – interesting suggestion about the stocks but would bending over cause back strain and lead to compensation? Just a thought on todays Home Office.

    Mine and Mac’s comments (lower down) about the death penalty can be found in the archives. It is good to see new opinions on this important issue.

  46. Newmania – I saw excerpts of the story you referred to in the Evening Standard. Well thank you very much – Cameron will NOT, repeat NOT see me in his corner.

    Boris for PM!

  47. k:

    Of course I have not forgotten about choice, but in most of these situations the choice is near-irrelevant. There are usually a very large number of factors in a person’s past and present which influence behaviour, usually for the worst of them they’re done with an accomplice, doing the most horrific things which they would never do alone. These are mitigating factors in my mind, but I would agree with what I assume you will say which is that they certainly come nowhere near excusing their behaviour.

    Choice comes into things at the same point that predestination very nearly does. I believe in free will, which means I take choice’s side, although it would be easy not to. In a sense I could be saying that they have these temptations, born into them and exacerbated by environmental factors, and these caused them to do this, in reality they had no choice because their situation dictated it for them. I believe this is wrong (just about), mostly because I can’t square this world with a loving and powerful God if there’s no free will.

    Instead, I have to say that they do get a choice, and so they are indeed responsible for their actions (or else you destroy the concept of an individual…) Which leaves potential, though not necessity, for the removal of my moral equivalence argument, I concede.

    I would still be opposed to the death penalty of course for the same reason that most people are; and I’m still opposed to retributive justice for the reconciliation reason. But I concede that there is room for a case against moral equivalence.

  48. You know I sometimes think that Jack only adopts the silliest position in the shop so as to sharpen his ferocious arguing skill . Is this true Jack?
    I agree with K from start to finish here including her reasons for not having the death penalty.
    Myself , I couldn’t care less if the perps repent or not , if they have to live their lives should only be a wait for natural execution . Why would we waste the resources when innocents are dying in hospitals and research must be done ? I wouldn’t waste my time reading their accounts of themselves if they wrote it .. You don`t get a second chance when you have taken everything a man has and everything he was going to have . Richard Ingrams once said that what he feared most about incarceration was the possibility of Lord Longford visiting him with a redemptive purpose. Good point

    May be there is a place for do-gooding after all . The sheer mendacious slither of it may be a richly deserved low level torture.

    I would forget to remove the boot laces on visiting day and hope for the best

  49. Jack Target-‘by my lights’ the rape of a 10 year old girl is just as immoral as telling a malevolent lie…

    Thanks for reminding me why I reject totally your sickly and perverted religion.

    Tayles- You seem to think that calling something “WAR” magically changes things. None of the many ‘wars’ fought by the UK in at least the last 50 years was anything to do with national survival or of saving the lives of people living on this island.
    The so-called “War on Terror” is no such thing. Same as the “the war on drugs”, the war on hunger, war on poverty etc.
    Call the death sentence part of “the global war on murder” if it makes you feel any better about imposing it!

  50. newmania- Thanks ! ( smile sweetly !!!) By the way, that’s a beauuuuutiful poem there, newmania. Thanks for sharing.

    Melissa and Jaq- Thanks ! One day… one day…

  51. Let’s look at the ‘hopelessness’ of bringing back the death panalty arguement again. Boris say’s it’s barbaric, involves innocents being killed and would divert zillions to human rights laywers.

    I don’t think it has to be barbaric. If hanging is too gruesome for you we could use an overdose or barbituates, like when you have a dog put down. I’ll admit the ‘innocents’ bit is a sticking point.

    Moving onto the human rights laywers. If we are to stay in the EU we can’t have capital punishment anyway, unless of course we can get the European Convention on Human Rights changed. The reason we are constantly given in favour of remaining in the EU rather than just the EEA is that we have a ‘leading role’ to play. Well perhaps we should be using our leading role to scrap this silly human rights treaty. The truth is we don’t have enough influence, nor do our politicans have the political will to do anything about it.

    People are deserting the Tory party in key marginals for UKIP, I wonder why? Do they worry about becoming a ‘United States of Europe’? The sad truth is that states in the USA actually have more freedom to decide their own laws and determine their own punishments than member states in the EU do. States over the pond are free to use the death penalty and are not averse to handing out live without parole.

    So going back to idlex’s point about stories like this being designed to scare the public, why are the Tories focusing so much on this case? I saw David Cameron was writing about the same thing in the Evening Standard yesterday. Are they really trying to scare voters away to UKIP? Because I don’t think suggesting divine intervention will save us from the crime-wave is going to do much good in the polls.

    If you ask me we need a new penal colony. Assorted scum from around the world seem to congregate here. When they are caught we need somewhere a long way away to send them.

  52. On the evening standard, has anyone read the article about Priti Patel. She is much more in touch with British society today. I have to say, as a young woman I find David Cameron a bit out of date especially when it comes to his soft stance on crime.

  53. Don`t you find these demons are so disappointingly mundane Idlex. (newmania)

    I know next to nothing about them, because very little seems to be known, so cannot comment. And I would only call them “demons” if that was the last explanation available (if it is any explanation at all).

    Harold Shipman, for example, declined to speak about his long litany of murders, so it’s anybody’s guess what his motives were. My own guess, for what it’s worth (i.e. absolutely nothing), is that he was a perfectly ordinary doctor, with the usual almost god-like powers of life and death over their patients that doctors possess, but which he exercised to the fullest extent possible. i.e. this was possibly another case of absolute power absolutely corrupting.

    I wouldn’t have let Shipman remain silent. I would have interrogated him day after day, night after night, to discover his motives for murder. And I would have done so as a matter of urgency, fearing that other doctors or nurses or care workers might be doing the same. It seems to me to be as important to discover what’s gone wrong with someone like Shipman as it is to discover why a bridge has collapsed, or a plane has crashed. We don’t blame “demons” for these disasters, after all.

  54. I have to say, as a young woman I find David Cameron a bit out of date especially when it comes to his soft stance on crime. (k)

    What on earth do you mean?

    Are young women’s opinions more important than those of anyone else? Or less important? And if David Cameron is “out of date”, do you mean that his views are as unfashionable as last year’s skirts and shoes, and that, likewise, what the law should or should not be is really a matter as equally transient and fickle as such trivial fashions?

  55. “You know I sometimes think that Jack only adopts the silliest position in the shop so as to sharpen his ferocious arguing skill . Is this true Jack?” – newmania

    In all honesty no! I did do this for about 8 years at school. I think it may have taken me a bit far though at the time… I tended not to lose those arguments in school. I wouldn’t win them either in the sense of convincing one’s opponents to change their minds, usually because my position was so absurd and I’d be outnumbered 8 to 1. But finding the position I’d adopted unassailable, it’s not impossible that that made me ponder it’s actual legitimacy. Generally while pondering it’s legitimacy, I’d come up with the arguments they should have used, and recognise it’s failings, but sometimes not.

    However, this stuff above I do indeed believe. I realise it’s a bit radical, but I’m someone who does tend to think in terms of absolutes and extremes. Is it actually that surprising that I’d come up with something unusual if I believe that God spent a few years on earth doing things like rubbing spit in people’s eyes, causing herds of pigs to run off cliffs, and cursing fig-trees; only then to tell everyone he was God, and prove it to them by letting them strip him naked, beat him to within an inch of his life, and crucify him? Then of course he came back to life and rules at “the Father’s” (whatever that is) “right hand” (whatever that is).

    Surely you should expect some fairly odd viewpoints to come from someone who believes things like that?

  56. What strikes me about those who deny the existence of the cosmic rationality that we call God is that they seem every bit as mystical and reliant on faith as those of us who believe in God.

    They will argue until the cows come home that belief in a rational creative force is an act of faith and that faith is fundamentally irrational.

    Yet when pressed to provide an alternative explanation for the awesome rationality of the cosmos, they’ll merrily mumble something about the possibility of vast universes having Big Banged out of minute grains of heavy matter and incomprehensible Black Holes. Keep pressing them about where the underlying rationality of this vastly complex process came from and they’ll mumble some more before admitting that we really don’t know, it’s a mystery, so we just have to accept that the cosmos and its rationality exists and leave it at that – i.e. leave it to blind faith.

    “Science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith.” Einstein.

  57. Prisons should be abolished and replaced with gulag style forced labour camps. A lifetime of hard labour under dreadful conditions would probably deter most of these pitiful excuses for humanity. Plus, they could pay for their own upkeep with their labour, or even make a neat little profit. How much would the olypics cost if slave labour was introduced?

    GULAG!

  58. themanintheironingboard said: “How much would the olypics cost if slave labour was introduced?”

    Hmn, good point, we might get in on budget!

  59. Auntie Flo said “What strikes me about those who deny the existence of the cosmic rationality that we call God is that they seem every bit as mystical and reliant on faith as those of us who believe in God.”

    Excellent point Flo – there seems to be a propensity among humans to believe in some form of magic. Personally I’m with Boris completely on this one.

  60. Idlex,
    When I say as a young woman I simply mean I am a young woman and this is my opinion. What else could I mean? The fact that I happen to be a young woman does not mean the opinions of young women are more important just as the fact that you are a man does not mean the opinions of men are more important.

  61. k – but some men (not accusing anyone here) think exactly that k. I suspect Carty and Brown were two. I’m staggered by their cold arrogance. It’s like another country.

  62. Jaq
    Too true. I suppose we only have to look at how this horrific murder case has sparked outrage about the crime rate in Britain, yet other more horrific murder cases are ignored by politicians because they cannot empathise with the victim. While it is right that a murder of a middle class man sparks outrage it is shameful that murders of women and non-middle class people are ignored by those who have been put in power. Politicians need to be able to empathise with everyone not just those who represent them.

  63. Quite right K.
    Interesting isnt it that Boris feels moved by anger to comment only on the murder of this man and none of the 4 above you mentioned.
    This chap was, like him, obviously a ‘good’ sort- City lawyer,Cambridge graduate an all that.
    Did nt the killer of city banker John Monckton get a 36 year tariff or something? And these two got a relatively high 17 and 21 years minimum.
    I wonder what they would have got had their victim been a high court judge?

  64. Melissa and Jaq- You two are not taking me to a London SUSHI bar to get rid of me, aren’t you ?!!

  65. k – well said.
    I was so annoyed earlier (at an article Newmania pointed out) not because Cameron made a point that was true, but that it isn’t relevant. There should be no fashionable judgements in crime.

  66. it will be in the best possible taste. (Jaq)

    Does that mean that the way you and Melissa will get rid of Lady Mucca will be in the best possible taste?

    I must say I rather admire her myself: she wears her heart on her sleeve.

    I might even start writing in a similar vein to, say, Melissa. Or k. But I somehow doubt it.

  67. The Squirrel & The Grasshopper, (REST OF THE WORLD VERSION)

    The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long building and improving his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The

    grasshopper thinks he’s a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter the squirrel is warm and well fed. The

    grasshopper is hungry and in the cold.

    THE END

    The Squirrel & The Grasshopper, (THE BRITISH VERSION)

    The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long building and improving his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The

    grasshopper thinks he’s a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the Summer away. Come winter the squirrel is warm and well fed. A social

    worker finds the shivering grasshopper, calls a press conference and demands to know why the squirrel should be allowed to be warm and well

    fed while others less fortunate, like the grasshopper, are cold and starving.

    The BBC shows up to provide live coverage of the shivering grasshopper with cuts to a video of the squirrel in his comfortable warm home

    with a table laden with food. The British press informs people that they should be ashamed that in country of such wealth, this poor

    grasshopper is allowed to suffer so while others have plenty. The Labour party, Greenpeace, Animal Rights and newly formed The Grasshopper

    Council of GB demonstrate in front of the squirrel’s house.The BBC, interrupting a cultural festival special live from Notting Hill with

    breaking news, broadcasts a multi cultural choir singing “We shall overcome”. Ken Livingstone rants in an interview with Trevor McDonald

    that the squirrel has gotten rich off the backs of the grasshoppers, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the squirrel to make him pay

    his “fair share” and increases the charge for squirrels to enter inner London.

    In response to pressure from the media, the government drafts the Economic Equity and Grasshopper Anti Discrimination Act, retroactive
    to the beginning of summer. The squirrel’s taxes are reassessed. He is taken to court and fined for failing to hire grasshoppers as

    builders for the work he was doing on his home and an additional fine for contempt when he told the court the grasshopper did not want to
    work.

    The grasshopper is provided with a council house, financial aid to furnish it and an account with a local taxi firm to ensure he can
    be socially mobile. The squirrel’s food is seized and re-distributed to the more needy members of society, in this case the grasshopper.

    Without enough money to buy more food, to pay the fine and his newly imposed retroactive taxes, the squirrel has to downsize and start

    building a new home. The local authority takes over his old home and utilizes it as a temporary home for asylum seeking cats who had

    hijacked a plane to get to Britain as they had to share their country of origin with mice. On arrival they tried to blow up the airport

    because of Britain’s apparent love for dogs.

    The cats had been arrested for the international offence of hijacking and attempted bombing but were immediately released because the

    police fed them pilchards instead of salmon whilst in custody. Initial moves to then return them to their own country were abandoned

    because it was feared they may face death by mice. The cats devise and start a scam to obtain money from peoples credit cards.

    A Panorama special shows the grasshopper finishing up the last of the squirrel’s food, though spring is still months away, while the
    council house he is in crumbles around him because he hasn’t bothered to maintain the house. He is shown to be taking drugs. Inadequate

    government funding is blamed for the grasshoppers “illness”. The cats seek recompense in the British courts for their treatment since

    arrival in UK.

    The grasshopper gets arrested for stabbing an old dog during a burglary to get money for his drugs habit. He is imprisoned but released

    immediately because he has been in custody for a few weeks. He is placed in the supervisory care of the probation service to monitor him.

    Within a few weeks he has killed a guinea pig in a botched robbery.

    A commission of enquiry that will eventually cost 10,000,000 pounds and state the obvious is set up.

    Additional money is put into funding a drug rehabilitation scheme for grasshoppers and legal aid for lawyers representing asylum seekers is
    increased. The asylum seeking cats are praised by the government for enriching Britain’s multicultural diversity and dogs are criticized
    by the government for failing to befriend the cats.

    The grasshopper dies of a drug overdose. The usual sections of press blame it on the failings of the government to address the root causes
    of despair arising from social inequity and his traumatic experience in prison. They call for the resignation of a minister.

    The cats are paid a million pounds each because their rights were infringed when the government failed to inform them there were mice in
    the UK.

    The squirrel, the dogs and the victims of the hijacking, the bombing, the burglaries and robberies have to pay an additional percentage on
    their credit cards to cover losses, their taxes are increased to pay for law and order and they are told that they will have to work beyond

    65 because of a shortfall in government funds.

    THE END

  68. …there seems to be a propensity among humans to believe in some form of magic. Personally I’m with Boris completely on this one. (Jaq)

    I do too, up to a point, however I think Boris’s view of God as a useful card for society to keep up its sleeve, understates the central role God plays in the lives of many of us who believe in God.

  69. Steve Hilton – Cameron’s Director of Strategy – I wonder if anyone might know if he has some connection with the Uttlesford District – perhaps a house in the country there?

  70. Lady Mucca , yes I like the narrative economy of that poem . Your efforts also have narrative qualities but the story seems to drift to the same bewildering and unwholesome end . Perhaps you know what they did in Gomorah . It must have been great fun but the twin City of Sodom leaves us linguistic clues at least

    Speaking of fat people and assorted chubby chasers I was pleased to see that Jamie Oliver has clearly given himself unique access to “The Pies” judging by the picture in the Mail. Oh dear Jamie salads are other people aren’t they .
    For lunch today I had Tiger Prawns and chilli dip , a monstrous T-bone with Béarnaise sauce , rare wiv chips and a hot fudge Browny with chocolate and ice-cream, two beers and a glass or two of wine. I was sitting next to Minty from Eastenders , proper nosh methinks . I also met the person who writes 8 out of 10 cats , at play group . It’s a glittering world here bumpkins .

    God how can people eat food that lacks only a good vet to be resuscitated. In an Andean plane crash we would be down to the scrawny old people before I touched it. Sushi eeeooo.

    Idlex I see no reason at all not to write in praise of Mel, on seeing here my first thought was… “Well , he wouldn’t have an ugly one now would he .” . I could tell immediately , by her allowing me to rabbit on about myself ,that she was a woman of infinite taste and discernment as well .Perhaps a meditation on the very great pleasure which… a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow.” …

    Jack- I do find it odd you are so in love with your matchstick Notredame metaphysics and also such a crazy man. I hope this does not in the future become a simperingly ponderous attempts at humorous paradox so beloved of Vicars
    .Due for my annual hallo soon ,”Ahhh New mania ..and family (beam simper) greetings greetings ” I still feel like a sulky teenager confronted with this sort of mularky .”Alright , ummm hows the god business then brisk ? Excellent well must be leaving …..oh um yes and god also be with you …( can I die now)”

    K can`t agree with on Priti Patel she is trying to show she isn’t as worthless as the other A listers but she is . Her recent attempts to impersonate a Conservative do not fool me . I will campaign for this smarmy Liberal Conservative but with a peg on my nose. His horde of oily fawning courtiers make me sick . One does not wake up one day inspired with an inner conviction that what we need is pretty much what we have plus some mood music about “The environment” . He has deliberately lied on tax and passed it off with Broonish obfuscations on he national debt . He continually avoids Europe which makes of what else he says irrelevant .It isn`t priti

  71. Idlex I see no reason at all not to write in praise of Mel, on seeing here my first thought was… “Well , he wouldn’t have an ugly one now would he .” (newmania)

    I sometimes wonder whether there are any ugly women – but instead women who would be thought great beauties in another era, and that ideas of beauty gradually change over time.

    When I see portraits of women from past centuries, they seldom look beaufiful to me. Even the stars of early silent movies leave me unmoved. The only exception I can think of is Nefertiti, who seems startlingly modern. Yet she was the wife of Akhenaten, whose statuaries all seem to be disfigured, and so it’s odd that this beauty is found among them.

    And, as for Melissa, I think I’ll leave her as she is: an imaginary being of infinite taste and discernment.

  72. Fascinating Greg ~ [or rather… interesting…Ed]

    Dear Boris,

    The current and unfolding Low Intensity Civil War (LICW) on our streets, that is classified as ‘crime levels’, is the reality of life in twenty first century Britain. The numbers of causalities, resultant of this LICW is an unknown, as well as the extent of the financial penalties (costs) of the same. As ever, lies, damn lies, and statistics, holds, seeing as crime figures released are subject to the political expediencies, aims and objectives, that somehow obfuscate the actualities. The neo-reality presented thereof, becoming an account of a complex information selection; as in the police reports, and or ‘perception of crime’ as in the case of British Crime Survey!

    Hence, the little understood actualities, resulting in the nostrums forwarded on this thread (and elsewhere, including parliament) to tackle the ‘crime levels’ by focusing special attention on ‘evil doers’, that can range from; hang them high, beat the Christian into them, not forgetting to blame the minorities (as all ”sensible” hate mongers, cannot miss any such plum opportunity presented) proscribing immigration and recommending; the start of repatriation bandwagon. To bring back national service, and what about concentration camps? All manifesting the patently clueless muddling in search of a solution.

    At the outset separating the two distinctly different strands of debate, may perhaps offer a clearer direction for debate, these being;

    a- The criminals, committing the crimes.
    b- arbitration, and recourse to dispute resolution between the criminal, and the victim.

    In case of (a) current categories of the combatants engaged in the LICW could be further separated into the following subcategories:

    c- Vice, and Violence Entrepreneurs (2VE), whom are in fact in the crime business, and enjoy the proceeds of their business acumen.

    d- Mentally Ill Psychotics (MIP), whom often fall through the various flimsy safety nets, and or due to the stigma attached to such illnesses are never acknowledged, and or addressed.

    e- Feral Urban Guerillas (FUG), mostly bored, idle, hopeless, and full of life teenagers, with little to do, and in search of ‘excitement’! These FUG could be members of a well defined family unit, and or non members of any such unit. In either case due to the lack of parental supervision (those parents working long hours to keep FUG in luxuries, or non existence parents), as well as inability of teachers to control these at schools etc. in addition to society’s fear in checking these, have left FUG without any assimilation references, and or role models. This vacuum is then compensated for, through virtual role models found in watching hours of violent movies, videos, playing console games of the same nature, and positive reinforcement of such behavioural models within the cadres (peer groups) of the FUG, helped along with ‘exotic’ stimulants and copious amounts of booze of course.

    By now it does not take a leap of quantum mechanics to find the apparent fact, that Vice, and Violence Entrepreneurs have quite a big pool of talent that they can spot in MIPs, and FUG, drawing upon these, to recruit into various criminal rackets, in the way of conducting their business.

    This tier (2VE) of enterprise is often managed by those, whom have attained their graduate and post graduate status from the various ‘crime universities’, we have come to call prisons. This is the harsh reality that somehow cannot be addressed through pushing prayers, and or empowerment of working classes, and or other trite sound bites, designed to sooth the frayed nerves of those victims caught up in the grips of this unofficial, and unacknowledged Low Intensity Civil War. Further obfuscating the sinister, and invisible corporate mergers that result in various front organisations that channel the proceeds of the enterprise into legitimate commerce is beyond our limited scopes in this thread.

    Hence, the fact that two young men kill another promising young man for the sake of a mobile phone, and travel card is not the result of ‘evil influences’ but confluence of; inept cognisance, incompetent planning, and negligent (bordering almost criminal) execution in running our public affairs. That is summarily blamed upon the perpetrators, and the world moves on to the next tragedy.

    So far as the arbitration is concerned, noting that the official crime detection figures run at one in every three (66 percent go unsolved), which then results in one in ten convictions based upon the charges brought before the courts, that is 10 percent of 33 percent detected crimes ie 3.3 percent of the total crimes detected go punished, while the rest ie 96.7 percent of perpetrators get away with their crimes, noting that these are the reported crimes, and do not include the accepted costs of the LICW by those victims caught up in it all, and do not bother to report their losses and or aggression that they may have been subject to. Accordingly it is with little surprise to find the lack of faith of the civilians in the mechanics of the arbitrage.

    However, seeing as for the past five years we have been told to watch out in case the bearded cave dwellers equipped with their ‘Explozaid’ are bent on our destruction, and everyday a new law has been brought in to combat the destroyers whom hate our way of life, including the ID cards, it is with little wonder that civilians find themselves paying the additional penalties levied by the Urban Guerrillas, at times with the price being the ultimate price of their lives.

    Finally, let us all start some more finger pointing at the minorities, and vent the frustration through the apparently daily ‘two minutes hate’ ritual, then we can go back and tune in BBC, drop out, to come back here and pontificate some more!

  73. I will campaign for this smarmy Liberal Conservative but with a peg on my nose.
    (newmania)

    Just as I’m beginning to understand why you were moaning about the abuse of traditional supporters when I first began posting on this blog, you self transform into Mr acquiescence. This is too Toynbeesque – or Patsyish? – for words. Why you will support someone you’ve little or no faith in? I can’t fathom you newmania. You will effectively be fulfilling what Steve Hilton is reported to be prophesying:

    “He says they [traditional supporters] will vote for us because they’ve nowhere else to go..” What a nerve.

    Yes, I read that Mail article too – but aside from that, did you notice the body language in the Mail’s photo of spin doctor Hilton? This is all beginning to give me a sickening sense of deja vu.

  74. Idlex- I can understand that , I have built mental images of contributors that must be at odds with the reality . Mel is pretty much the myth made flesh but she is probably an exception. All the women that post here are unquenchable flames of loveliness in my mind’s eye. I do have my favourites…..

    FLO -surprised to see you are another of jesu`s little sun beams. I have unpacked my views under the gimlet eye of chief inquisitor Jack so I won`t get into all that . Can I ask a simple question ?
    When you go to Church and everyone kneels and all the “Oh you are so big and we are so small” stuff gets going . Do you not think , this is slightly more absurd away to spend my time than eating Cellotape .?

  75. FLO – In my more considered moments, I understand Cameron’s problem .I do not acquiesce , I pick the least worst (by a long way in this case) and hope to work within it. I am not as right wing as I sometimes pretend to be and will not be cutting off my nose to spite my face.

    There are , in fact a number of things David Cameron has said that are encouraging

    1 A promise to simplify tax ( this means reduce it )
    2 A promise to address the constitutional iniquity of the Scottish problem
    3 A plan to convert Council rents into Mortgages
    4 The expression of moderate Euro scepticism ( he is understandably wary on this)
    5 A promise to make the police directly locally accountable
    6 A firm line on crime

    And so on. The truth is I suspect David Cameron is , in his heart, about as right wing as Boris , which is about where I sit To win he needs Liberal inclined votes and public sector votes . He can do without a lot of Conservative votes because of where they are . His strategy is right to win. If Cameron does not keep a course for restoring the integrity of the country I will be disappointed . If the foul Broon gets to snuffle about my pockets for five years I `m leaving.

    That’s about the way I see it , not very exciting is it.

    I want to Conservative Party to win . We must win.Perhaps I should stop indulging my gripes

  76. FLO -surprised to see you are another of jesu`s little sun beams…When you go to Church and everyone kneels and all the “Oh you are so big and we are so small” stuff gets going . Do you not think , this is slightly more absurd away to spend my time than eating Cellotape?
    (newmania)

    Gawd, newmania, you’re not turning into a Blairite now are you? Only that sort of groundless and childish personal attack is so Blair 🙂 I do not go to church. I don’t adhere to, or believe in, institutionalised religion. I believe in a cosmic rationality which unites everything and everyone and which, for the sake of convenience, I call God. If this cosmic rationality concept was a good enough explanation of how the cosmos came about and is ordered for Einstein, it’s good enough for me.

    As you seem to believe that know so much more than Einstein about the cosmos, do tell.

    And stop evading the $64,000 question. Go out into your garden and look up at the vast expanse of space above you and, if it’s clear enough, the awesome, synchronised, mechanism of the stars and planets whirling around each other and explain to me please how you believe all of that – and all of us – came into being.

    You’ll return either muttering incoherently about black holes and Hawking or, saying ‘so what, who cares?’, it’s all a bit mystery, the cosmos just is – i.e. leave it to blind faith. In other words, Newmania, you’re more into blind faith and mysticism than I am.

    Come on, newmania, put up or shut up, which will it be? 🙂

  77. Flo the notion that a large invisible conjuror pulled it all out of his hat does not get me very far. As we are both aware of the concept of an infinite sequence there is no necessity for a beginning and Einsteins weak form of non faith has been discussed at length ,it is actually the opening chapter of the “God delusion” thing . I have previously gone thought some philosophical logical and aesthetic problems with the idea at huge length I `ll see if I can pull it out for you .
    I find that there are huge areas of human experience that science has nothing to say about , love , loyalty and it trouble me that I have no way of understanding this . Science does very well for the Universe.
    I doubt you are very much more religious than I am by the sound of it I have a sort of wondering doubt .

    NO FLO I am not going Blairy you vicious moo. I will never go Blairy or indeed Browny

    I have a project I want ot do a sort of video Montage to Cold Play`s Fix you . I like the chorus

    “Tears stream down your face
    When you lose something you cannot replace
    Tears stream down your face
    And I………………….”

    I thought that’s what Blair has done he has broken something you can’t replace . I thought images of our degraded country set against abandoned war memorials . Going for the gut not the mind . A flag in the gutter urban desolation with perhaps some of Margaret T or Churchill’s words fitted in. There is a way to do it if I can get some archive footage . Any ideas.?

    That is what it will feel like if we do not win the next election and with this in mind I am disposed to stop moaning about Cameron

  78. Flo the notion that a invisible conjuror pulled it all out of his large hat does not get me very far…NO FLO I am not going Blairy you vicious moo. I (newmania)

    Newmania, this is 100% pure Blairy. Blair’s stock in trade strategy: refusal to answer questions or address points, diverting attention away from them by inventing fictitious points which totally distort those that were actually made, absurd, bullet pointed, mockery of those points of his own invention which he falsely ascribes to other: this is Blair’s stock in trade. Oh, and attacking the person in a weak attempt to divert attention from the points made – classic Blair. You aren’t Blair’s PMQs relief script writer are you?

    I’ve clearly stated that I view God as cosmic rationality and the unifying force of the cosmos, not as a personality or an old man sitting on a cloud, conjurer or otherwise.

    So stop fantasising points I’ve not made you silly old git 🙂

  79. cosmic rationality and the unifying force of the cosmos (Flo’)

    This sounds like the God that Einstein was talking about when he said, “God does not play dice with the universe.” Or Stephen Hawking when he spoke of “Knowing the mind of God.” Someone once remarked that all the best theologians are physicists these days.

    But this abstract cosmic rationality is somehow curiously unhelpful when it comes to the nitty gritty moral dilemmas of everyday life. Such physicists regularly declare that “We study what is the case, not what ought to be the case,” and wash their hands of it. Indeed, these physicists’ principal contribution to the trials and tribulations of human existence would seem to have been to provide us with vastly improved ways of killing each other.

    At least dotty, old-fashioned Christianity had a moral code of some sort. When your cosmic rationality eventually comes down to earth with its own moral code – if it ever does -, do let me know.

  80. idlex – there’s hope for me yet then, I just have to wait a while 🙂

    Flo, Newmania – have either of you read ‘The God Delusion’? Just wondered.

    Newmania – I have to admit that in person (on TV) Cameron is v.convincing. I thought it amusing that on visiting a flour business in his consituency someone was wearing a ‘Boris for PM’ T shirt 😀

  81. At least dotty, old-fashioned Christianity had a moral code of some sort. But this abstract cosmic rationality is somehow curiously unhelpful when it comes to the nitty gritty moral dilemmas of everyday life. (idlex)

    Does Christianity really provide one unified moral code, idlex, or are you really talking about just one sect, the moral code of which is contradicted by a plethora of other Christian sects? That the moral codes and behavioural effects of these sects are very different is exemplified, for example, in the key role that specific Protestant sects played in the emergence of Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution.

    My belief in God as the unifying cosmic rationality does seem to me to imply a universal morality. If the whole cosmos emerged from the same blob of matter and is governed by the same unifying principles and cosmic rationality, then the way to live is one that’s true to that unifying rationality as far as possible. For me, that means respecting all the other parts of the cosmos, human, animate or inanimate – even newmania. You may say that this allows for a wide range of behaviour options – but then so do the numerous sects of Christianity and many other forms of instituionalised religion.

    Even among the members of one Christian sect there are invariably a wide range of interpretations of what the imperatives of their respective moral codes require.

    I should add that, aside from the hypocritical behaviour of so many, vastly rich, Christian churches – in respect of the poor and certain distasteful investment practices etc – I’ve no problem with institutionalised religions as such, they just don’t appeal to me.

    Jaq: I haven’t read the God delusion, though I’ve read other stuff that seeks to disprove the existance of God, Russell and so on. Nothing I’ve read so far has changed my views. I shall have to have a look at this book.

  82. The reason why we do not have the death penalty (quite apart from the fact it is immoral for the state to take a life) is that it lowers the conviction rate. Around the time it was abolished (we did once have the death penalty but you may have forgotten that) it was becoming unworkable. There was evidence that juries did not want to convict because either they were unsure about the judgement, could see mitigating factors or simply did not believe that it was right to take someone’s life. Very dangerous people were being set free because the death penalty was a ratchet too far.

    In order for it to be workable you would not need a clear majority for the death penalty – you would need almost 90-95% of the population for it. Otherwise your juries will not convict in a convincing way which protects society.

    Bearing in mind that we live in such a society (and not the society you might wish or ‘hope’ for) it might be better to think of ways of dealing with the causes of crime. It seems to me that people seem to avert their eyes from the clear fun factor of crime. It fills people with horror, irrationality and gets in the way of a rational, useful response. A response which might make a more cohesive and workable society.

    A good start may be to:

    * Have a decent education programme for the young
    * Training contracts which pay; How about tax breaks for those on low incomes
    * Encourage other socially useful fun activities – which could be pormoted by social entrepreneurs and Government.

  83. Flo et. al.

    You’re correct about morality, Christianity does not have one single moral code. To the extent that it has any coherent moral codes, there are many. The Jewish one can still apply of course (I come not to abolish the law, but to fulfil it), as does the Apostolic/Pauline one (you don’t have to obey, because you’ll go to heaven anyway, but you should because of the Holy Spirit), and then there’s Jesus’ one (you have been told an eye for an eye but I tell you if someone should strike you on your cheek, turn to them the other also).

    As for the unifying cosmic rationality, which I believe you also attributed the creation of the universe to, this runs into a very dramatic problem of infinite series (mentioned above). This is put best in the God Delusion, already mentioned, but the gist of it is that no less complex thing and consciously create a more complex thing. Thus a God with any of the attributes typically associated with him (beneficence, omnipotence, omniscience) leads to an ever more complex chain of creators, with no end.

    Scientists do not give up, religious people do. When a scientist declares that he has no answer, this spurs him on to try a great deal harder to find one. It is the root of progress and learning in our society. When a religious person discovers something like the universe and can’t find an answer, they attribute it to God, and nothing is gained. In fact it becomes clear that this attribution serves no purpose whatsoever, and we may as well have not made it.

    It is something that any religious person will quickly have to come to terms with (if they are responsible, and open to the possibility of questioning their faith), that the religious domain rapidly diminishes in the face of science. A large number of things that used to be explained by God are now explained by science, often contradicting the God explanation. So what exactly is God responsible for and how do we know that these ideas won’t be rapidly abolished by science? You tell me. It is similar to the problem of the soul. I have yet to come accross a definition of the soul which is not either meaningless, or exactly equivalent to a system of emotions and thoughts. God is very similar to this.

  84. …the way to live is one that’s true to that unifying rationality as far as possible. For me, that means respecting all the other parts of the cosmos, human, animate or inanimate (Flo’)

    With all respect, Flo’, isn’t that a bit weak? Indeed, is it even in accordance with this unifying rationality? The natural world does not appear to demonstrate much ‘respect’ for anything. Volcanoes erupt, and hurricanes wreak havoc, and meteors rain down, without so much as a single do-you-mind-awfully-old-boy. Today, for example, the sky unloaded buckets of rain on top of me. Where’s the respect in that?

    Does Christianity really provide one unified moral code

    Well, it’s got the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and the like. The Roman Catholic church has a catechism as big as a book about what’s right and wrong. People may not live up to such teachings, but they are at least there.

    I agree that a once united Christendom has now fragmented into a variety of sects. But for the most part their differences are doctrinal rather than moral (although American Evangelicals seem to only read the Apocalypse of St John, and aren’t in my view really Christians at all).

    My point is that, for all its innumerable flaws, Christianity provides its adherents with a moral guidance that your cosmic rationality does not. I would go on, furthermore, to say that it has provided the entire foundation of modern secular Western society’s values, despite the gibberings of midgets like Richard Dawkins.

    I wouldn’t bother reading Dawkins if I were you. But I would suggest reading Richard Webster’s essay, The body politic and the politics of the body, about the religious origins of Western secularism.

  85. As for the unifying cosmic rationality, which I believe you also attributed the creation of the universe to, this runs into a very dramatic problem of infinite series (mentioned above). This is put best in the God Delusion, already mentioned, but the gist of it is that no less complex thing and consciously create a more complex thing. Thus a God with any of the attributes typically associated with him (beneficence, omnipotence, omniscience) leads to an ever more complex chain of creators, with no end.

    I’m thick as two planks about this infinite series, Jack, and would like to have a fuller explanation of it, as, at first glance it seems so full of holes that I’m sure it must be more compelling than it seems on the surface.

    So, I can only give my first impression on the basis of the very limited understanding I have. That is that Hegel would say this infinite series problem is a load of codswallop! Pull yourself together, Mr Dawkins, he’d say, stop thinking so one dimensionally and think dialectically. Of course a less complex thing can create a more complex thing – because, as Cameron would say, nothing is static, everything is in a process of growth, or decay and changing to become something its not. So the issue is one of potential, the difference between potential and realisation of it is the difference between form and essence.

    I’m not sure if it was Hegel who himself used an acorn and an oak as an example of a thing being simultaneously less and more complex, but it gives you an idea of why I’m arguing that something less complex can become or create something much more complex.

  86. I apologise for the duplication of my posting, the first time I posted it I got an error message and reposted, so I’m puzzled about why it’s come up twice.

  87. Scientists do not give up, religious people do. When a scientist declares that he has no answer, this spurs him on to try a great deal harder to find one. It is the root of progress and learning in our society. When a religious person discovers something like the universe and can’t find an answer, they attribute it to God, and nothing is gained. In fact it becomes clear that this attribution serves no purpose whatsoever, and we may as well have not made it. (Jack Target)

    So Einstein, believing in God, just gave up on his life long quest for relativity. Sorry Jack, this claim is unsustainable.

  88. With all respect, Flo’, isn’t that a bit weak? Indeed, is it even in accordance with this unifying rationality? The natural world does not appear to demonstrate much ‘respect’ for anything. Volcanoes erupt, and hurricanes wreak havoc, and meteors rain down, without so much as a single do-you-mind-awfully-old-boy. Today, for example, the sky unloaded buckets of rain on top of me. Where’s the respect in that?

    It may be indeed be weak, idlex, or it may be that in complaining about the rain that fell on you, you’re ignoring the wider picture that the earth needs rain. I imagine it also needs volcanic eruptions to release all of its internal pressure, better an eruption than an exploding planet. I accept that’s terrible for humans and animals in the path of the lava, but remember, I’m not talking about a personal God who might whisk us out of the way of the flow. Though – and this is something I haven’t begun to resolve in my own mind yet – there seem to be natural forces, synchronicity, for example, which like Jung’s golden scarab beetle, might indicate something much more complex going on than the concept of a mere cosmic rationality allows for. I dunno.

    As I understand it, respecting the cosmos means struggling to understand it in order to attempt behave respectfully towards it. I don’t expect the same kind of respect from inanimate matter that a conscious being might express, there again, I may be wrong, nature seems to know what its doing to far greater extent than we humans do in many respects. Anyway, I bet nature’s still around when our species is long gone – and perhaps that is part of the wider picture?

  89. Hmn, yes the site’s running a bit slow. If your post doesn’t seem to be publishing fast enough can y’all bear with it folks and not press post again, just wait and I’ll check it out. Thank you.

  90. Harry Fulton ,- Thanks to you . I think you would agree with points made by K myself and Boris . In practice the death penalty cannot be used without the belief of the jury in its justice . Does that mean it is wrong or that perhaps we are in a period of moral confusion and cowardice. Certainly we are in period where disengagement with life and death is possible . Many people have noticed that as sexual ostentation has exploded there is no parallel acceptance of death . It is hidden more than ever and as hasty cremations overtake burial its unpleasant reality is more than ever swept under the carpet . In Rotherham (don`t ask ) the crematorium is on a neighbouring hill and you can see the puffs of smoke all day . This is a more realistic understanding of life and reacquainting ourselves with it is overdue .
    Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolf
    “Birth Copulation Death , how do you like for a declension young man ”
    It would make us all philosophers, I suspect, to see mortality like a hedgehog scuttling across the back garden (Hardy) .

    Sorry this is a bit long and , no doubt familiar ,but such things were obvious to our ancestors . This is recorded by the venerable Bede and is the best image of life I know

    ‘”Your Majesty, when we compare the present life of man on earth with that time of which we have no knowledge, it seems to me like the swift flight of a single sparrow through the banqueting-hall where you are sitting at dinner on a winter’s day with your thegns and counsellors. In the midst there is a comforting fire to warm the hall; outside, the storms of winter rain or snow are raging. This sparrow flies swiftly in through one door of the hall, and out through another. While he is inside, he is safe from the winter storms; but after a few moments of comfort, he vanishes from sight into the wintry world from which he came. Even so, man appears on earth for a little while; but of what went before this life or of what follows, we know nothing. ”

    This argument apparently persuaded king Edwin that is better to convert on a better safe than sorry basis . Not unreasonably at the time . We have convinced ourselves the cosy hall goes on forever which is far more ridiculous. This delusion makes us bizarrely squeamish about the death penalty

    Flo Why so stroppy Flo ?I am not against faith. The sort of faith you have is not readily distinguishable to me from having no faith but looking at the sky and saying “Cooo..init big” and “Blimey its all got to mean something hasn’t it “. If a less complex thing can create a complex thing then there is no need for god and an infinite sequence is required to get anywhere near a maths O level. There was a nice bit of Idlex a while ago when it was suggested that the appearance of order probably disguises chaotic chance . Idlex retorted perhaps the appearance of chaos disguises perfect order.( I am talking from memory ). I find myself this thought inclines me more kindly to religion than any amount of logic. I couldn’t exactly say why. I am unconvinced that “Why” is all that important .
    I feel FLO you are trying to say things that are difficult and beyond what you have actually said so far. If so , that how I often feel .My efforts look as poor to me as they no doubt do to you.Blairy smarts a bit though

    JAQ , yes I have read the god delusion but as Jack T may recall there as nothing much in it I was not already familiar with. It is a goodish run through of some common false religious arguments but offers no alternative .It is silent on love morality ;loyalty , music sport (even) joy , sorrow and most of that which makes a life .Science can explain why there might be such things if we were replicating machines but it can never explain the experience of being alive and knowing , yes “knowing “these things are more than side effects of replication. I have , thus far been unable to get further than that but in those terms there is something utterly unsatisfying about the book for someone to whom it is nothing new.
    I appreciate its rudeness though and take the point that the faithful of various sorts use “TAKING OFFENCE” as an aggressive weapon.

    God forgive me I have droned on haven’t I . You have earned a favoured seat in Heaven if you got this far .

    Let all the World in every Corner Sing
    My God and King

    Could something as beautiful ,as Dawkins claims , really have been written about the theory of evolution. NO!!!

  91. yes I have read the god delusion but as Jack T may recall there as nothing much in it I was not already familiar with. It is a goodish run through of some common false religious arguments but offers no alternative .It is silent on love morality ;loyalty , music sport (even) joy , sorrow and most of that which makes a life. (newmania)

    This is precisely what I expected. Thank you for confirming what I already very strongly suspected: that this is not a book worth reading.

    It is no surprise that he offer no alternative: he has none. Nor is it any surprise that the book should be silent on love, loyalty, music, sport, etc. Dawkins is a Darwinist, and for Darwin both the natural and the human world were regarded as being constantly engaged in an exterminatory “war of nature”. There is not, nor can ever be, any love or loyalty or music or sport or joy in such a grim vision of life. And that also is why Dawkins himself is as much a humourless and obnoxious zealot as those he now seems to spend all his time attacking.

  92. Newmania – captivating as ever and yes “the faithful of various sorts use “TAKING OFFENCE” as an aggressive weapon”, exactly.

    I think it could be said that there are many religions around today as the popularity of a deity falls then for some it is replaced by football and for others another fashionable cause that must be defended against non-believers. People are ever tribal. I think the political tribes are becoming confused.

    I agree with Dawkins on one point – you cannot argue with a martyr who believes the next hall is a better one.

  93. Idlex – You are unkind. I remember CS Lewis had an affection for the honesty of an atheist and I noticed Dawkins pays him a back handed compliment in return

    “CS Lewis , who should have known better…”. He doesn’t claim to have answers he does point out how silly some supposed “answers” have been. Not a worthless activity and in the context of US fundamentalism , quite welcome .

    It is thin stuff though and there are many books worth reading first. Incidentally Idlex as a chap of some literary style , who would you recommend as Winter warmer ?

  94. Flo Why so stroppy Flo ? (newmania)

    You mimic Alf Garnet and call me a vicious moo, I respond in kind by saying you’re a silly old git – and I’M the stroppy one. Your wife deserves a medal newmania 🙂

  95. Gosh, a lot of words being spent here on God – along with a countless millions before them.

    It’s simple. God is love. The rest is packaging.

  96. BORIS is currently featuring on Iain Dales Blog . Please everyone go and suggest that he should be Deputy PM.

    Mr. Johnson the country is in the merde sir and we would appreciate it awfully if you would save it.
    Thanks , so kind

  97. Idlex – You are unkind (newmania)

    Well, to be kind to Dawkins, he’s a very good writer on evolution. But he just annoys me with his anti-clericalism.

    who would you recommend as Winter warmer ?

    Melissa?

    And Flo’, I’m actually very sympathetic to your point of view. I just think it’s one that hasn’t made much progress as yet. And it’s only because Christianity seems to be all we’ve got that I feel obliged to endorse it.

  98. Oh, a book!!!

    I dunno. For literary style in fiction, I spent about a year reading almost everything by Patrick O’Brian, continually wondering how he managed to write English that what so evocative of the early 19th century without actually being early 19th century English. I still don’t understand this amazing trick, that he keeps pulling off, page after page, book after book.

    As for high literary non-fiction, I’ve never encountered anything quite like Peter Green’s From Alexander to Actium. The content of this large book is considerable, but the English is almost symphonically rich and dense and multi-layered, like Black Forest gateau. It’s really almost a triumph of style of content.

    As for myself, I try to write very simply, and perhaps euphoniously. I quite often read books (e.g. O’Brian) almost entirely for their English, and then put them down and think: I wish I could write like that! But I know I never could.

  99. And having written all that rubbish, I need to correct it, of course!

    ‘English that what’ in the first paragraph should be ‘English that was’.

    And ‘style of content’ in the second paragraph should be ‘style over content’.

    So much for my attempts at simple, euphonious English.

  100. In Japan those two dirt-bags could expect a short drop and a long stop. And on an unannounced date, so no media build up, and no Liberal crowds outside the prison. Just announce the number of executions at the end of each year. But that’s Japan for you, the benefit of the many at the expense of the few. Crime’s very low here, but when it does happen can be horrific. Doubt if the death penalty has much of an influence on heinous crime, but it would make you feel better to know two scumbags like that will be several decades early for their appointment with Satan.

  101. “It’s simple. God is love. The rest is packaging.”

    Oh I’m sorry, I’d forgotten there was such a concise and precise answer to that question. I’m afraid the rest is not packaging however. Are you saying that ‘love’ created the universe? If not then who? Presumeably there is some kind of anti-love in your theology to account for evil in the world?

    And what exactly is this love thing anyway? C S Lewis wrote an excellent book on it called the four loves, although even he was struggling with the ideas. Confining God to ‘love’ is just like confining the soul to ’emotions’, a parallel phrase would be “one’s soul is one’s emotions” – utterly unhelpful.

    If you want to go ahead and worship love, then feel free, there are certainly less admirable things to worship. But calling God love and love God serves no purpose at all.

  102. Thanks Idlex I `ll look into those. On style I like simple elegance but I also like sinewy discursive word wrestling .I once went to a class in poetry writing , which , obviously ,I was dreadful at. The poet was Michael Donaghy , such a kind man he would look at my pitiable efforts and say , in his soft New York accent, “Now Paul , ask yourself …what can. I leave out …. ” I wondered what he was up to and found out some bad news just this minute . How strange

    http://www.britishcouncil.org/arts-literature-publications-poetryquartets-donaghy.htm
    FLO
    See what you mean about Hilton Flo ,Barbara Amiel is slipping the stiletto into Cameron today and I scent blood for the first time

  103. Newmania – can’t agree, Boris for PM, not deputy. Actually I think Jon Cruddas would be a good choice for deputy leader.

  104. And Flo’, I’m actually very sympathetic to your point of view. I just think it’s one that hasn’t made much progress as yet. And it’s only because Christianity seems to be all we’ve got that I feel obliged to endorse it. (idlex)

    Thanks, idlex, I am to yours and Jack’s too, I feel that my view isn’t that far away from Christianity if you ignore the institutional aspect of it.

    Was it you who said ‘God is love, all else is packaging’ or something like that? Taking the very broadest view of love, I think that is probably true.

    The Guardian gave what I thought was a quite compelling definition of love one Valentine’s day a few years ago. The article said there are three elements of love and three kinds of love made up of different combinations of these three elements. The elements are:

    Affinity
    Commitment
    Passion

    Friendship and Passion without commitment is romantic love.

    Affinity and commitment without passion is the love of friendship.

    Affinity, commitment and passion together are the real thing.

  105. Boris for PM, not deputy. Actually I think Jon Cruddas would be a good choice for deputy leader.

    Yes, Boris for PM! Jon Cruddas is a bit of an unknown to me, what qualities does he have which would make a good PM of him, Jaq?

  106. Sorry Flo, was distracted and missed your last post which I will address now: Jon Cruddas

    Have you seen ‘This Sceptic Isle’ presented by Peter Hitchens? (oh shush you lot in the 1d 9s)

    Well in that (yes excellent) prog there was an interview with Jon Cruddas which detailed his politics. Unfortunately I cannot get a link to that prog so I will try the man himself and get back to you. Watch this space!

  107. There are , in fact a number of things David Cameron has said that are encouraging

    1 A promise to simplify tax ( this means reduce it )
    2 A promise to address the constitutional iniquity of the Scottish problem
    3 A plan to convert Council rents into Mortgages
    4 The expression of moderate Euro scepticism ( he is understandably wary on this)
    5 A promise to make the police directly locally accountable
    6 A firm line on crime

    The truth is I suspect David Cameron is, in his heart, about as right wing as Boris , which is about where I sit. To win he needs Liberal inclined votes and public sector votes. (newmania)

    Civil liberty is missing from your list. I know Cameron has spoken about this – one of my major concerns – and a major concern for other alienated Lib Dems peed off with the party’s Europhilia and lurch to the left, with all the damaging implications this can have for community politics and civil liberties. The anger/alienation of many centre-right Lib/erals/ Dems has been compounded, as mine has, by Lib Dem councillors who’ve abandoned community politics and respect for civil liberties to collude with the undemocratic and sinister machinations of nulab council/or/s. Though, in some cases, I think they were just too naive to see through and stand up to the machinations of nulab officers.

    Anyway, given the Blair’s heir business, the managerialism, the considerable influence of the spin doctors and how much social control might be needed for some of Cameron’s policies, I worry that we might not end up with appreciably more respect for our civil liberties under a Cameron government than we have now. I’m amazed to find myself thinking this, a month ago I’d have argued with anyone who dared suggest it. I think what underlies this concern is that Cameron’s use of and adherence to spin doctors and the whole machinery that surrounds them is eroding Cameron’s key appeal – trust and credibility, something Lib Dems are acutely sensitive to.

    Also, given the background of these spin doctors, as PR men or consultants to the giant corporations, I’m concerned that the considerable influence such companies have under Blair – and the damage this is doing to the 99.97% of companies who are SMEs, who employ almost 60% of UK’s workforce – could be exacerbated by a Cameron government. These giant corporations have been able to bend so much legislation and government into a form which benefits them at the expense of small business. The Office of Fair Trading’s pandering to retail multinationals who’s runaway growth allows them to cripple their small competitors and so many of their smaller suppliers is one example. This is so damaging for UK, to our economic base, our democracy, to community shopping areas and to the nature of our communities. At a time when the multis are making themselves more automated and less labour intensive, SMEs remain labour intensive. UK so needs the 17 million or so jobs in the SME sector. I thought George Osborne might stand up for SMEs, but I doubt now if he’s so inclined, and even if he is, I doubt if the spin doctors would allow it.

  108. Well I believe in the death penalty I just think that in order to prevent the execution of innocents it should only be imposed when there is NO doubt about the guilt of the criminal. Convictions would still be acheived on the standard of ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’: in other words there should be no change to the trial and verdict process. But the sentence of death could not be imposed unless there was No doubt about the criminal’s guilt. Such an approach would enable the death penalty to be imposed in a (very limited obviously) number of cases.

  109. I couldn’t raise boris-johnson.com at all yesterday. But I see a few people managed to post around the times I was trying. In recent weeks, from my end, it’s getting to be to be a bit of a toss-up whether I can read or post messages.

    My guess is that traffic has been rising on this website, and the servers can’t cope. A server can only handle so many people at the same time. So when too many come, some get turned away. Big US blogs like Daily Kos had this problem a year or two back, and solved it by adding extra and better servers.

    Not that I know that much about web servers.

  110. I’ve been unable to log on as well a lot of the time, particularly at night I notice, I figured the server was just down repeatedly?

  111. I’m sorry about the technical hitches folks, the blog has been attacked of late. All difficulties have been noticed and the team are working on providing you with your usual excellent service. With the addition of the Forum the Boris Johnson blog welcomes your input and strives to make that possible.

  112. Evil crusty beings who live on cold pizza and biactol, otherwise known as ‘hackers’. Why? Probably because they can and because they have no girlfriend (re-word for gender/pet preference)

  113. So… back to the death penalty then?? Phil said

    Well I believe in the death penalty I just think that in order to prevent the execution of innocents it should only be imposed when there is NO doubt about the guilt of the criminal

    I’m sure everyone would agree that this is the only civilised option Phil. However, I think the problems encountered were that there was a trial by media in one case and the poor accused was educationally challenged. So much so that by the time the interrogation had finished with him, he would have pleaded guilty to anything. The exposure of this error rocked public confidence and no-one was that sure afterwards. Senior influential politicians were of the liberal view that taking someone’s life was basically wrong and so the 1957 homicide act was binned.

  114. On this I have to disagree with you Boris.

    There are 2 big arguments for the death penalty which do not involve hate.

    Firstly that it does discourage murder & that these murderers are so sufficiently lost to humanity that they are in practice beyond reclaiming, certainly at any cost less than a few kidney machines or clean wells for dozens of Zaire villages.

    I do believe that the death penalty discourages. I know many social “scientists” disagree but I think those are driven more by their own feelings than scientific detachment.
    http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/DP.html for evidence that it does. I know of nobody who says that murderers should not be imprisoned because it doesn’t deter nor have I seen any explantion as to why imprisonment deters but exceution doesn’t.

    Secondly is the argument that these 2 & others like them are so far from being morally human that they can only safely be put down like rabid dogs. You do not have to hate a dog to consider it rabid. We can even accept that “society is to blame” in some ways – perhaps they grew up without father figures, perhaps their schooling never gave them any moral sense. Perhaps it is even true that a century ago we could have given them a chance to die for Queen Victoria in Zululand. Nowadays the best role in life they can provide is as a horrible warning.

    This brings us to the question of executing an innocent. This is carefully avoided by most supporters of the death penalty but must be faced. If we accept it is a deterance & if executing one innocent deters the murder of 2 is it not moral cowardice to avoid responsibility for that act? An other argument is that juries would be less willing to convict the likes of Barry George if they knew that this would be final & not something which somebody else might reverse after 5, or 10, or 15 years.

  115. I heard a case on the radio that I think blurs the manslaughter/murder charge: a taxi driver ran over a man then dragged him underneath the car for over a mile after which he was quite dead. He may be out in less than 2 years.

  116. posted this elewhere which I think shows we are much on the same wavelength . Possibly this is because we both take an interest in local politics (newmania)

    Yes, I think that’s true, though with the iron hand of Blair/Browndom tightening its noose around so many aspects of our communities and individual lives these days, it’s becoming hard to separate the local from the national.

  117. Jaq
    There are hundreds of these cases that are murder, yet the killer recieves only a manslaughter charge. Often the murder charge is dropped, on grounds of provocacation, if a man claims his wife was having an affair (yes thats right sharia law british style). It was recently reported that a man who killed an entire family because the teenager daughter rejected him had spent six years in prison for manslaughter-he had battered a woman around the head with a hammer because she would not leave her husband for him!Although there is talk of introducing a charge of secondary murder instead of manslaughter I do not believe this will lead to a real chage in the practice of justice.

  118. Neil i have some doubts about your whole post but this “is it not moral cowardice to avoid responsibility for that act?”. Is IMHO quite right . Why do you feel we have reached a point where we lack moral courage?

  119. I would just like to add my “outrage” to those who are having problems . I have lost several posts which were brilliant . Now they are lost forever but I assure you the wit and perception was life changing . I am now sulking and will not be back until its fixed

    AND THERE IS NO POINT IN BEGGING !!!

  120. BTW Flo , I am off to a “sustainable communities” bill meeting in a day or so.I very much support this legislation and other Conservative attempts to re-empower ?(ugh ) local politics

    Some early fire from the Brown camp reacasting his socialist past today . Dave had better get his story straight before the Broon starts clunking .By that I mean lying of course

  121. How ironic that Carty and Brown come from religious backgrounds. This was one of Boris Johnson’s more incoherent rants.

  122. BTW Flo , I am off to a “sustainable communities” bill meeting in a day or so.I very much support this legislation and other Conservative attempts to re-empower ?(ugh ) local politics.

    Making Government account to local communtites for how public money is spent in their area and giving councils new powers to redirect the cash towards local people’s priorities, is a great idea.

    The government’s version, the local government white paper, also promises to give more power to local residents to shape service deliveries and priorities, yet we know that in reality this is a purely cosmetic exercise which will mean more power for nulab supporting officers, especially those with a direct line to the government, more power for quangos and more power for whole range of public service cliques who are collectively misrepresented at ‘the people’.

    Take the so called decriminalisation of parking fines. The government has claimed to have given communities via their LAs the power to control and resolve parking issues and to determine parking fines themselves. Yet, in reality, the government still rigidly controls the form such measures will take by beating LAs, especially those in the South and in Conservative areas, with the big stick of restrictive, discriminatory and punitive – funding allocations, which, along with the preponderance of nulab council officers, pressurise (and bribe) councillors into ignoring the wishes of their communities and applying this power in the most irrational and restrictive manner.

    The end result of decriminalisation in my town is that my council (i.e. the nulab officers) are now introducing punitive measures to stop almost all parking, business and customer, in the, currently thriving, smaller shopping areas. Non trade parking will be allowed to park for a few hours in costly, miniscule, car parks which hold only a quarter of the parking spaces necessary to keep our community shopping areas alive . Most businesses need constant access to their vehicles yet will be barred from the tiny car parks and will have nowhere to park at all. Shop workers on low wages, in the unlikely event they can find a space in the car parks, will be forced to pay such punitive parking rates that it won’t be worth while working. Our community shopping areas will become ghost towns.

    So what do you know, the only benefactors of this punitive policy will be the out of town supermarkets with their free parking spaces and their nulab donor Chief Execs.

  123. Yes FLO and its the same all over. NuLab claim increased numbers of small businesses but it is a blatant lie.
    In fact they have made the qaulification for Labour only Sub Contractor onerous so as to force labourers to become fully self employed. By introdcing huge red tape and Employenment legislation straight from the EU and Unions they force everyone to be their own business when they are in fact employees without security

    THEN- They announce a growth in business start ups . Real SMEs have plummteted
    New Planning regulation will put “A Tescos in every Village”. Lovely. No more shops .

    These things matter and it is here the conservative Party has to stop kissing its blow up Milton Friedman

    Nighty night

  124. Exactly, newmania! Why do none of the parties wake up to the plight of the 4 MILLION SMES and our staff who comprise almost 60% of the workforce?

    Doesn’t any party want all of our millions of votes at the next election?

  125. That’s 16.8 million workers employed by SMEs, Boris -just in case you’ve lost your calculator 🙂

    Our jobs and businesses are under repeated attack from nulab.

    We are desperately in need of a political champion.

  126. K said “I do not believe this will lead to a real chage in the practice of justice.” – am with you totally, it is those who administer the law who seem increasingly removed from justice. I think when the Home Office feels it has to intervene then there is something seriously wrong with our criminal justice system. Couldn’t be them tinkering in the first place could it??

    Newmania – so sorry about your difficulty, this was discussed yesterday and we will continue to do what we can to provide service. You could compose comments in Word? and if BJ commenting fails email us your comment.

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