Category Archives: European Court of Human Rights

Britain’s festival of disorder

Poor man! If only he had been given the opportunity of rehabilitation and repentance, perhaps he wouldn’t have taken the cyanide

In Britain, one of the effects of the abolition of the death penalty has been downward pressure on prison sentences. Your average British murderer, Dalrymple explains,

serves 15 years before release. His life sentence is for life only in the sense that, for the rest of his days, he may be recalled to prison if it is thought that he is misbehaving or breaking the conditions of his release.

In one per cent of cases,

a life sentence may mean permanent incarceration without possibility of release, though the European Court of Human Rights (that giver of lessons to the world) has ruled that such a sentence breaches fundamental human rights because it does not allow for the possibility of repentance or rehabilitation. It goes to show how lacking in realism, imagination and compassion the ECHR is.

Dalrymple points out that punishment has to be roughly proportional to the gravity of the crime, but

if murder attracts only 15 years’ imprisonment de facto, what sentences can be meted out to those who commit lesser, but still serious, crimes? Moreover, the charge of murder is often reduced to the lesser crime of manslaughter, in which sentences – as a consequence – are often derisory.

It is scarcely any wonder, he says, that Britain

has gone from being a well-ordered, non-violent, law-abiding society to being a society with the highest rate of violent crime in Western Europe.

He notes that

it was not inevitable that the abolition of the death penalty should have had this effect, if conviction for murder had carried a sentence of incarceration for life. But in order for this to have been the case, society as a whole, and the governing class in particular, including intellectuals, would have had to have sufficient faith in a moral authority to impose it. The abolition itself, in my view justified per se, was — in the manner in which it was carried out — a symptom in itself of the decline in that faith.

The governing class and intellectuals

believed only in their own moral authority to defy the ‘primitive’ wishes and apprehensions of the unlettered majority. They replaced the moral view of human existence by the sociological and psychological one, with all its explaining and explaining away.

Popish unctuousness and cowardice

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 09.28.47Less a shepherd, more one of the sheep

Pope Francis’s speech to Congress, writes Dalrymple, resembled that of

a politician seeking re-election. It was like the work not of a man intent upon telling the truth, however painful or unpopular, but that of a committee of speech-writers who sifted every word for its effect, appealing to some without being too alienating of others. If Bill Clinton had been elected pope, he might have made the same speech, so perfect was its triangulation, so empty its high-sounding phrases.

Interviewed after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Francis let it be known that if someone insulted his mother he could expect a punch, making a physical gesture to illustrate his point.

This is not exactly the doctrine enunciated in the Sermon on the Mount; and one could not imagine John Paul II or Benedict XVI making so foolish or crude a mistake under the complacent impression that he was charming.

Francis’s

propensity to run after false gods, most of them fashionable in the constituency to which he evidently wants to appeal, no doubt accounts for his popularity. He is bien pensant; and where he does not yet feel able to alter doctrine in a liberal direction he is evasive and even cowardly, afraid to court distaste or opposition by clear expression of what he means.

Dalrymple asks to whom and at what these papal weasel words are directed:

It is my wish throughout my visit that the family be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! How worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and beauty of family life.

Dalrymple:

Who and what are calling fundamental relationships into question? Fundamental relationships do not call themselves into question: someone must do it in the name of some doctrine, some belief. The Pope’s resort to the passive mood is indicative of his moral cowardice in confronting the opponents of what the Church believes in. Those opponents he knows to be militant and aggressive, and to confront them openly would lead to his fall in the popularity polls.

Francis

evades the issue with vague and oily declamation. It is one thing to be peace-loving and conciliatory, another to surrender by means of avoidance of the issue.

Such avoidance was evident when Francis said:

We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism.

Dalrymple:

This may be true in the abstract, but the wholesale persecution of religious minorities, and the perpetration of violent acts in a host of locations, is confined to Islamic extremism. It would have been better for the Pope not to have broached the subject than to have dealt with it in so pusillanimous a fashion.

The Pope’s secularist outlook is evident in his abolitionism:

I am convinced that this way is best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

Dalrymple:

There is nothing here about mercy, forgiveness, repentance, redemption or salvation. Rehabilitation is a purely secular concept, suggesting that the wickedness of crime is a form of illness, to be treated by the psychological equivalent of physiotherapy; sin, or even vice, doesn’t come into it.

Francis’s words

are indistinguishable from those of the European Court of Human Rights, when it ruled that it was a breach of fundamental rights that brutal repeat murderers should be sentenced to whole-life terms because such sentences exclude the possibility of their rehabilitation (even if, in practice, they would never be released). But while God may forgive Himmler – under certain conditions – surely Man cannot. The irreparable exists in the sublunary world.

At every point, Dalrymple points out, Francis

evaded specifics and resorted to unctuous generalities. No one ever courted unpopularity by denouncing injustice, but many risked much by being specific about what they considered, rightly or wrongly, unjust.

Francis

was against poverty in the way the preacher in the Coolidge anecdote was against sin. But while no secularist will speak up for poverty, the religious attitude has traditionally been more nuanced.

Francis spoke of the unjust structures that exist even in the developed world. This, says Dalrymple, is to

make a fetish of wealth.

Moreover, he was

exciting one of the seven deadly sins, envy.

Francis, Dalrymple concludes, prefers to court popularity while rocking no boats. He

plays to the gallery, wanting to be liked by everybody. There is nothing of timelessness in what he says but only of the temporal, the contingent, the fashionably platitudinous.

The doctrine of the Real Him

Lavrentiy Beria

Lavrentiy Beria

This is a watered-down secular version of Christian redemption, writes Dalrymple,

with Man in the place of God. Inside every person there is a core of goodness that is more real, more fundamental, than any evil act he might have committed, and which it is the purpose of punishment to bring to the surface. Punishment is therapeutic, redemptive, in purpose and intention.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that whole-life sentences to prison are against Man’s fundamental rights

because they eliminate the possibility of repentance and redemption (known in the trade as rehabilitation). The judges of a court that is supreme in matters relating to supposed human rights for a continent on which, within living memory, tens of millions of people have been systematically starved or abused to death or put to death industrially on an unimaginably vast scale, could conceive of no crime so terrible that the person who committed it was beyond earthly redemption.

Heinrich Himmler

Heinrich Himmler

On this basis people like Beria or Himmler

would have been eligible for parole, provided only that they showed themselves reformed characters.

A serial killer once upbraided Dalrymple

for suggesting that he – who had kidnapped at least five children, sexually abused and tortured them to death, then buried them in a remote place in the moors – should never be released from prison, on the grounds that he spent much of his time making Braille books. He had redeemed himself, and cancelled out the torture and murder of five children, by subsequent good works, expressing the Real Him; he had paid his debt to society, as if good and evil were entries in a system of double-entry bookkeeping, so that if one did enough good works in advance, one would have earned the right to torture and murder five children.

Men

can change; this is their glory and their burden, for it is the capacity to change that renders them responsible for their actions; but what they do may be irreparable.

Incompetence of the European Court of Human Rights

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 10.15.52The court has ruled that

imprisonment in perpetuity is against fundamental human rights.

The court thinks that

a crime such as [that of Jewish Museum murderer Mehdi Nemmouche] is forgivable, and moreover, that it is his human right to be given a chance of rehabilitation, presumably by some kind of moral physiotherapy.