Sunday, February 6, 2011
When is a crime "serious"? This cropped up recently when, in connection with the prisoners vote issue, some jackass politician decried the fact that there are a couple of thousand people serving a year or less in prison for violent or sexual offences.
These were said to be "serious", as if all sexual or violent crimes were inherently beyond the pale. The impression is given that no crime involving sex or violence can ever be "minor", though a sentence of a year or under may suggest they can.
Let's think. If a drunken slob slaps a woman on the bum and shouts "wahey, darlin", that's common assault and sexual assault. Insulting, demeaning and Neanderthal, certainly. But a "serious" crime on the scale of wickedness?
To characterise all sexual or violent crimes as being "serious" is to indulge in the lazy luxury of absolutism. It is also to demean victims. To lump the experiences of a woman who has been gang-raped, or a person who has been crippled with a brain injury, into the same category as bum-slapping or a punch in the face is insulting.
I'd like to say that I'd expect better from those charged with guiding the ship of State. But given their past ramblings, I really don't.
Labels: criminal justice