Either Guido or Harry Cole are being very, very, stupid indeed.

As has been pointed out, those of us who don\’t trust the State to run libraries aren\’t really the poster children for the idea that the State will successfully identify those who should be killed.

But this argument ends up in stupidity:

It is a similar picture for cop killers, the public understands that the police put themselves in harm’s way on their behalf every day. If a criminal in the course of committing a crime kills a police officer it is invariably deliberate. Having the death penalty for cop killers will make criminals fear the consequences and give extra legislative protection to the police beyond a stab vest. Once again the public shows a two-thirds majority in favour of the death penalty for cop killers. Not because their lives are worth more than ours, it is because the police daily risk their lives to protect our lives.

Sigh, Recall what happened when we did have the death penalty for those who killed police officers.

If a police officer was killed then someone had to swing for it.

Derek William Bentley (30 June 1933 – 28 January 1953) was a British teenager hanged for the murder of a police officer, committed in the course of a burglary attempt. The murder of the police officer was committed by a friend and accomplice of Bentley\’s, Christopher Craig, then aged 16. Bentley was convicted as a party to the murder, by the English law principle of \”joint enterprise\”. This created a cause célèbre and led to a 45-year-long campaign to win Derek Bentley a posthumous pardon, which was granted partially in 1993, then completely in 1998.

The execution is within living memory and even Guido\’s second Summer of Love haze had cleared by the time of the pardon.

Arguing that cop killers should hang when hanging cop killers is exactly and precisely the reason that we know that we hung the wrong person is, well, it climbs the very bounds of stupidity really.

34 thoughts on “Either Guido or Harry Cole are being very, very, stupid indeed.”

  1. I think Guido’s just a self publicist who is emulating the tabloids. He’s not campaigning because he believes in this, but because he thinks it’ll make him more popular, or famous, or influential, or something.

    Ghastly little shit.

  2. I am not in favour of reintroducing the death penalty to the UK (although there probably is a deterrent effect).

    I also can’t see why the lives of police officers are more valuable than those of butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.

    However Derek Bentley was a lowlife who chose to commit a robbery and encouraged his friend to shoot a police officer dead (unless anyone actually believes that “let him have it” meant “please give the nice policeman your gun so we can all get along famously”).

    There were people who did not desrve to be hanged, Bentley was not one of those.

  3. The pardon for Bentley was an act of stupid sentimentality, or criminal moral cowardice. And I’m not a keen pro-hanger myself.

  4. However Derek Bentley was a lowlife who chose to commit a robbery and encouraged his friend to shoot a police officer dead (unless anyone actually believes that “let him have it” meant “please give the nice policeman your gun so we can all get along famously”).

    Nobody knows. It apparently went,

    Policeman: “Give me the gun!”

    Bentley: “Let him have it!”

    What did he mean? We’ll never know. But “give him your gun” is a plausible interpretation. Bentley was already in custody and the situation for his partner clearly hopeless, so advising said partner to give up would be plausible.

  5. As I’ve said before elsewhere, I’m *for* the death penalty, but hanging or shooting or lethals injection are wrong execution methods.

    The execution should be conducted by locking the murderers in prison, and keeping them there. If we find out that the conviction was wrong, we can interrupt the process of execution. Of course, then we have the problem that the wrongfully sentenced have lost years or decades of their lives, but then, this is a problem with all other types of punishment as well.

  6. I’d much rather that a killer is locked up, than set free because some jurors have a problem with the responsibility over a man’s life. Jurors may require a higher standard of proof than they would if a man was to receive a custodial sentence.

  7. The death penalty was also abandoned for purely practical reasons. Juries were becoming increasing reluctant to return a guilty verdict in capital cases.

  8. Well said Tim. The problem with the death penalty, as I see it, is that we’re not wise enough to implement it – and probably never will be.

  9. OK if police killers should be executed because police are in a special position then that works both ways, a police officer unlawfully killing a civilian should also receive the death penalty.

  10. Sorry guys, cannot agree with the deterrent effect of capital punishment as it is well known that the overwealming majority of criminals commit crimes in the belief that they will get away with it and a large %-age of the time they are correct.

    Equally, while not wishing to get dragged into the argument over Derek Bentley, it has also been proven to be the case in both the US and other countries where capital punishment exists that if you are poor or badly educated (more likely both), then you have a disproportionate chance of death by capital punishment than someone from a good upbrining.

    Sorry, I don’t think capital punishment is a suitable answer to poverty.

    Given the perverse incentives on police officers, CPS and courts to prosecute the easiest rather than the guiltiest there will always be miscarriages of justice. For this reason alone capital punishment can have no place in the judicial system of a civilised democracy.

    Before you ask, I don’t see the United States of America as a civilised democracy. It is a police state in all but name.

  11. Posts by Paul Staines are done under “Guido Fawkes” and posts by Harry Cole are done under “Neo-Guido” on the blog’s RSS. Not sure if the author is shown on the web theme yet as I just read them through RSS these days.

  12. As my English teacher once reminded me:

    Curtains are hung, people are hanged.

    New primary legislation could rule out the death penalty for ‘joint enterprise’ convictions.

  13. The ‘cop killer’ bit confused me, especially from a supposed libertarian.

    If hanging does work, then why should bobbies benefit from greater protection than the rest of us?

  14. Ian B is mistaken, have always believed in a “life for a life” and that the retribution part of punishment is important and necessary for the worst crimes. Have consistently said the same. The announcement of e-petitions means that we can force a debate on an issue that the polls say the public disagrees with the ruling class. Let them be counted.

  15. Stefan Kiszko – need I say more? Yet at the time of his conviction, the “public” would have been clamouring for such a weirdo perv to be executed.

  16. The only reason we know the name of Derek Bentley, is that his case was picked up by the opponents of capital punishment. He was a criminal scumbag taking part in an armed robbery. Of his own free will. Risking other lives was worth it, to him, and his bandwagon of supporters.

    But that same constituency, having achieved prohibition, turned their hands to the erosion of the whole of life option. And this has left us in the situation where hundreds of guilty men have indeed been set free, and racked up rather a lot of new murder victims.

    The criminal justice system is predicated on a bargain, between the state, and the public. We sign away our natural instincts for retribution. So long as they take responsibility for containment and punishment. That’s how we rise above rough justice meted out on the streets isn’t it?
    You can’t take away one half of that, and expect the other half to keep standing. Murderers are the ultimate usurpers of civil liberty. Quite a lot of dead people, have probably noticed that they are no longer free to do as they please.

  17. “As my English teacher once reminded me:

    Curtains are hung, people are hanged.”

    Some people are hung but that’s a whole different subject.

  18. Curmudgeon:
    “Stefan Kiszko – need I say more? ”

    That’s a valid argument against sloppy prosecution standards. But if your point is that no body of evidence is perfect enough, then my point is that it never will be, so you had better be ready to fold up the entire criminal justice system and invite the public to make their own arrangements.

  19. However Derek Bentley was a lowlife who chose to commit a robbery and encouraged his friend to shoot a police officer dead (unless anyone actually believes that “let him have it” meant “please give the nice policeman your gun so we can all get along famously”)

    The evidence that Bentley said those words came from a policeman, a policeman who was very anxious that someone swing for his comrade’s death. A modern jury would treat such evidence with all the respect it deserves – none whatsoever. But in the 50s it was held that policemen never lie so challenging it would have been suicide for the defence. Fortunately we know better today.

  20. That’s a valid argument against sloppy prosecution standards. But if your point is that no body of evidence is perfect enough, then my point is that it never will be, so you had better be ready to fold up the entire criminal justice system and invite the public to make their own arrangements

    It is an extremely strong argument that no body of evidence is sufficient to kill someone.

  21. “The criminal justice system is predicated on a bargain, between the state, and the public. We sign away our natural instincts for retribution. So long as they take responsibility for containment and punishment. That’s how we rise above rough justice meted out on the streets isn’t it?
    You can’t take away one half of that, and expect the other half to keep standing”

    Well said.

  22. “the retribution part of punishment is important and necessary for the worst crimes.”

    Yes yes, Guido, but we’re not talking about the guilty, we are talking about the innocent: in all your pontificating you’ve never addressed the issue of what happens if the executed is actually innocent. How do you right that wrong?

    How, as Tim says, can the state be trusted to reliably determine guilt to sufficient degree to institute a punishment that cannot be reversed if it turns out to be wrong? I can’t run a heath service competently, it can’t run a military competently, it can’t run a justice system competently yet somehow the rights of the innocent are to be protected by a public service that is really really really sure?

  23. “Murderers are the ultimate usurpers of civil liberty. ”

    The state taking the life of an innocent person isn’t acceptable either. Yet you clamour for the state – proven to be venal and incompetent in almost everything it does – to have the power to kill those it thinks are guilty.

  24. “The evidence that Bentley said those words came from a policeman, a policeman who was very anxious that someone swing for his comrade’s death. “

    No, it came from several policemen.

    “A modern jury would treat such evidence with all the respect it deserves – none whatsoever. But in the 50s it was held that policemen never lie so challenging it would have been suicide for the defence. Fortunately we know better today.”

    What a ridiculous statement. You are seriously claiming that the evidence of the only living witnesses, beside the accused, would be treated with no respect and that this is evidence of how “we know better today”.

    If eye witness testimony merits no respect at all (or is it just police eye witnesses?) then how exactly would you propose to convict anyone of anything without CCTV on every lamp post and in every house?

  25. What a conundrum, the death penalty is illegal in the EU so the UK would have to leave the EU in order to reintroduce it, so, while I’m implacably opposed to the death penalty, its reintroduction would have the happy side effect of forcing the UK to leave the EU.

  26. A major argument against capital punishment, in my view, is that murderers (and rapists, etc) should suffer. For a long time. Judicial execution negates this.

  27. A tremendous amount of interest all rather proving TW’s contention that you can’t trust the embodied opinion of the State to execute people.
    No mention of the Guildford Four,Maguire Seven and Judith Ward (who confessed to terrorist crimes she had n’t committed) and whose possible executions (under a ramped-up system) for conspiring to kill serving soldiers would have made the dreary situation in Northern Ireland even worse .
    Christopher Craig, who is supposed to have killed the policeman, lived in Australia afterwards and said that Bentley had n’t said anything at all.There was also a lot of complaint that the fatal bullet had’ nt come from Craig’s gun.
    (There were alot of ex-army handguns around after the war : we found a service revolver in a junk room in the 1950’s but my mate told his mother and it disappeared.)

  28. this has left us in the situation where hundreds of guilty men have indeed been set free, and racked up rather a lot of new murder victims.

    No, the total number of murders committed by convicted murderers released on parole throughout the 12 years 1997-2009 in the UK was 2. That ain’t ‘many’.

    Mind, even if there were ‘many’, that’s not an argument for the death penalty, it’s an argument for life without parole.

  29. I don’t agree with the motion. I have not seen a compelling argument.

    However, I don’t think Mr. Bentley’s execution is an argument against it. He wasn’t innocent, he just didn’t pull the trigger.

    This 50 year boo fest has meant the retarded criminal’s name is more famous and elicits more sympathy than DS Fairfax’s.

    He was carrying a knife and a duster and his accomplice killed a policeman, if his swinging from a rope is your best argument to defeat Guido then you’re in trouble.

  30. No, it came from several policemen

    What , several policemen can’t lie? However anyone with even a passing familiarity with current events knows that they can and do.

    What a ridiculous statement. You are seriously claiming that the evidence of the only living witnesses, beside the accused, would be treated with no respect and that this is evidence of how “we know better today”

    Do you know of any case which would now be decided on the uncorroborated word of a policeman or several of the species? I suggest you get out a little more. You’ll find that outside your bedsit it is no longer 1954.

    If eye witness testimony merits no respect at all (or is it just police eye witnesses?) then how exactly would you propose to convict anyone of anything without CCTV on every lamp post and in every house?

    Are we have comprehension difficulties? Yes, I was suggesting – and it is manifestly the case – that uncorroborated evidence from the police is treated with a degree of scepticism, to put it mildly.

  31. He was carrying a knife and a duster and his accomplice killed a policeman, if his swinging from a rope is your best argument to defeat Guido then you’re in trouble

    I’d have thought that Stefan Kiszko might be a pretty compelling argument, except for those who are morally dissolute. One might also note that the police officers who lied to falify the case against Stefan were never called to account for their crimes. But some here would have it that police officers never lie.

  32. Old Slaughter,

    “This 50 year boo fest has meant the retarded criminal’s name is more famous and elicits more sympathy than DS Fairfax’s”

    I can’t tell you which you think is worse, being a criminal or a retard. On the other hand, you probably claim benefits in order to survive and subsist in a portable home, in a part of the country where the definition of ‘executive housing’ is that the portable homes have plumbing. What a nasty, odious, shitty, unfulfilled little right-wing beast you are. Tim Worstall has made a case here you can’t answer, so you call an unjustly hanged-man a retard as a riposte. Turn to God, sinner, before you meet your punishment.

    Kind regards,

    One occasionally taken for a retard.

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