Over at Max Farquar’s blog and one or two others is an horrific story of a very young child, a baby in fact, who has been brutally raped. As yet few details are known – even the baby’s gender isn’t certain and whether the poor kid is critical or has in fact died from the injuries is also up in the air. Other than that a really nasty assault with some terrible injuries has taken place and that the parents were arrested and then bailed far more is not known than is known.
Max, who I have a lot of time for as I agree with much of what he says, wrote this:
North Kent police have said that a 35-year-old man was subsequently arrested, on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and rape, along with a 33-year-old woman. They were both from the Gravesend area and were detained in a North Kent police station. However, they have now been released on bail.
Released on bail?
WTF! A one month old baby has been raped!
Who is the 35-year-old man, that is walking free after raping a one month old baby? Is he the father or is he the boyfriend of the 33-year-old woman that has also been released on bail? Do we presume she is the mother? Someone, somewhere out there must know who these loathsome, disgusting and unbelievable evil people excuses for human beings are!
It’s time to name and shame.
Here’s my problem.
With respect to Max, we don’t as yet know that anyone’s walking free after raping a baby and so no it’s not time to name and shame. It’s time to thoroughly investigate, identify the guilty party(s), build an absolutely watertight case with extra attention to detail given to all the human rights – yes, I know, but hear me out – of any initial suspects and the eventual accused. And there are two reasons – first is that we all know the police screw up from time to time and arrest the wrong people, and right this second we can’t honesty say that those arrested are guilty of anything. Suspected, yes, sure, but right now they haven’t even been charged and in law they are innocent ’til proven guilty, just the same as everyone else. This is not a triviality. This is not showing more concern for the human rights of the perpetrators, who I repeat are not as yet known to be the perpetrators, than it is for the victim. This is absolutely essential for law to work at all. As Bolt’s Sir Thomas More put it:
And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!
The second reason is more prosaic. I’m appalled by this crime and I want to know that someone is punished for it. I want to hear that they got the bastard, that he was tried, convicted and locked away like an animal. And if he appeals I want to be confident that he’s got no hope at all and the Appeals Court will reject it in very short order because the police and CPS did a thorough job, cutting no corners and respecting the accused’s rights at every step of the process. I said they were important, and that’s why – it’s not just that some accused really are innocent but also that you don’t want it to become a get out of jail free card for the guilty ones later on.
Naming and shaming now, if the eventual accused is indeed the one who gets named, puts that all that at risk if the defence persuades the court that it’s prejudiced the jury and a fair trial is no longer possible. And before we start launching into defence barristers, see above – if you’d been charged and you were innocent you’d be wanting the barrister to do absolutely everything, play every angle at every stage, to get you out of there and back to your life, and if we want that for innocents accidentally put on trial or maliciously fitted up then it’s got to be done for the crims too. It’s not perfect but that way we know If there’s no trial, no guilt can ever be proven, and I don’t trust British mobs to get it right when people have been known to attack the house of a paediatrician.
The disgust I feel over the idea that someone of technically the same species could do this to a tiny baby meant that I struggled to blog anything right away. There is no just punishment for this, none. There can’t be. We’re not a society that tortures people to death over extended periods anymore, and we’re the better for it, but even if we were I’m not even sure Leg-iron’s suggestion of hacking their legs off at the knee and standing them in salt is enough. Death certainly isn’t, and not just because it’d be sending him off to a hell I don’t believe in but because even if I’m wrong and there is one the bastard would get the opportunity of absolution before he got the rope or the needle or whatever. Spending the remainder of his miserable existence hearing the whispers, knowing from the beginning that the first beating – and worse – will come sooner or later, and then over the years learning from the less than gentle ministrations of fellow prisoners that the most frightening sight is an absence of screws and the worst sound is the small metallic click of a door that should remain shut being quietly unlocked, being moved for his safety and living in terror of the moment that who he is and what he’s in for will become known in the new prison, that might well be the closest thing a civilised society can do for a just punishment.
We should want as many waking moments of this creature’s remaining life as possible to be filled with nervous fear, and as many filled with terror and pain as other guests of Mrs Majesty’s prison system are able to supply. The best chance of all that happening is to name no names except to police officers. If folks on the blogosphere or Twitter or Facebook blab enough to screw up a trial, or even any chance of there being a trial, then they’d almost be accessories to the crime. Because the perpetrator of this evil will go free and those who named him will all have helped. Jeez, if he gets a new ID and life somewhere at taxpayers’ expense the blogs and twitterers and facebookers might as well have clubbed together and bought the bastard clean docs and a ticket abroad.
I’m not suggesting – would never suggest – any restrictions on what can or can’t be written online, but sometimes care is needed if what we hope for is to stand the best chance of actually happening. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Quite often so is justice.