Dalrymple finally discovers the futility of imprisonment

At the Social Affairs Unit, Dalrymple satirizes Kenneth Clarke’s opposition to prison:


If, then, the defendant is found guilty of murder it will provide conclusive evidence in favour of Mr Clarke’s view: for it will have turned out that that he, the defendant, committed murder in the very month of his release from prison: ergo prison did him no good, ergo he should never have been imprisoned, ergo he should not go to prison for murder, for there is no reason to suppose that it will do him any more good this time, and guilty or innocent he should therefore be released at once.

….

Thank heaven we have a Justice Secretary who sees this all clearly. Really it is an honour for a population to be ruled by people such as he of so deep an insight, so sincere a compassion and so uncompromising a realism. We may be proud of our state that it has at last overcome the primitive impulse to punish, incarcerate and incapacitate young men like Rodrigues, who so badly need help. Pity about Robert Macdonald, the victim of the attack, but the question we must surely all ask ourselves is, Did he have a triple lock on his front door? And if not, why not?

10 thoughts on “Dalrymple finally discovers the futility of imprisonment

  1. Jackson

    Well, Hendryk, perhaps you’d care to apply your superiour critical skills, elaborate… disabuse at least me of what may be stupidity – and horror, frankly.

    I do think TD does exaggerate too much “covered in blood”, even if those weren’t initially his words. Were they really covered in blood? How much? etc, I agree this doesn’t do him favours as such but his blood is obviously boiling (I exaggerate) it’s easy (for some) to get distracted from the extreme seriousness of the issue.

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  2. Hendryk

    I wondered how long it would take for someone to challenge me to exercise my superior intellect or some such like.

    I called the article stupid because it is as plain as a pikestaff that that is what it is, in so far as it seeks to attribute to Kenneth Clark views that are obviously fallacious and which a moment’s research would show that he does not hold. And I don’t think superior critical skills are required to see that.

    Furthermore the last paragraph – which one might charitably call an attempt at satire – just comes over as nasty and borish and does the writer no credit. There is no virtue, for example, that I can discern, in mocking another’s attempt at exercising compassion (if such it be) however misguided you feel that attempt may be.

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  3. P. H.

    As an admirer of Dr. Daniels (although not an uncritical one), I think I should point out that this article is a satire: to say, “it seeks to attribute to Kenneth Clark (sic) views that are obviously fallacious and which a moment’s research would show that he does not hold” is to spectacularly miss the way satire functions. Clarke has recently aired his views on prison in the British media and, though he is clearly proud of them, they are all but indistinguishable from the dogma which has prevailed in the judicial & penal system for decades. His position is ripe for lampooning.

    “Furthermore the last paragraph – which one might charitably call an attempt at satire – just comes over as nasty and borish (sic) and does the writer no credit.”

    It’s heavy (and pretty bitter) sarcasm, which again is a common device of satire. I wonder whether you realise that satire has forms both gentle and savage: this piece, though perhaps more Juvenal than Horace, is no more “nasty and borish” (sic) than parts of Candide.

    “There is no virtue, for example, that I can discern, in mocking another’s attempt at exercising compassion (if such it be) however misguided you feel that attempt may be.”

    But that’s the whole point! Clarke’s attitude is *not* misguided compassion: it’s the strange mix of guilt, amour propre and indifference towards ordinary people which is characteristic of today’s ruling class — the pathological attitudes of those in power is a perennial phenomenon and one which has been the bread and butter of satirists since time immemorial.

    Decades of the same, failed, modish non-punishment of the most violent offenders has merely served to embolden them — but it goes down awfully well at the dinner parties of champagne Socialists like Clarke and his fellow faux conservatives. Clarke cares not a fig about justice for victims’ families (which would entail proper, hard punishment of violent criminals), and instead proceeds down a well-trodden and utterly disastrous path, because to do otherwise would be unseemly in his social circle.

    The people who bray loudest about having “compassion” on criminals are more often than not amongst the most heartless of souls, since they lack even the most basic form of sympathy — namely true fellow-feeling for those who have suffered horribly at the hands of criminals, and the desire to see the perpetrators punished properly for their wickedness. Were they genuinely compassionate, people like Clarke would not consistently deny victims and victims’ families true justice, and would ensure that brutal criminals received condign penalties.

    But, as Dalrymple has often pointed out, they *hate* real justice — it’s far too déclassé for them. They would rather exercise their crass and overblown “compassion” at others’ expense.

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  4. Hendryk

    I have not read Candide but I do have a general idea of what satire is. I am simply pointing out that it it stupid to criticise someone for views that it should be obvious they do not hold. Whether you choose to do this through satire or some other medium isn’t particuarly relevant. I had not come across the Juvenal or Horace forms but it makes no difference to the point. Satire based on a falsehood is just bad satire. And this is a bad article (to the extent that it deals with Kenneth Clarke and his views on prison reform). I’ll wager a tenner (to a charity of choice) that TD would agree with me if asked, given his usual admirable high regard for reason and restraint.

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  5. Jackson

    Interesting. But, I don’t know really, it’s all so hideous. Someone resonded to recent TD article to divert attention from the issue at hand (or primarily so, I think) to basically correct TD’s use of passive vs active i.e. should be ‘impersonal’, not passive.

    Would that help? Is that a fair point?
    TD’s main point as I understood it, is that we indulge heavily in what TD describes as ‘latitudinarianism’ (I know, awful clumsy word, but probably well deserved) in The Gift Of Language.

    Our lack of educational standards have allowed millions of people to largely go adrift, not develop their semantic and therefore higher cultural and moral bearings… and often where they do (like Pinker, say) well, to quote TD

    “The contrast between a felt and lived reality—in this case, Pinker’s need to speak and write standard English because of its superior ability to express complex ideas—and the denial of it, perhaps in order to assert something original and striking, is characteristic of an intellectual climate in which the destruction of moral and social distinctions is proof of the very best intentions.”

    This is extremely problematic… bad, wrong!

    and as he say’s in Truth vs Theory

    As to why people adopt theories that conflict with the most minimal honest reflection, I will quote T. S. Eliot, who, while not always right, was right about this:

    Half the harm that is done in the world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t want to do harm—but the harm does not interest them . . . or they do not see it . . . because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.

    Eliot might have added: the endless struggle to look well in the eyes of their fellow intellectuals and the fear of losing caste. But as a result of their efforts, as Orwell also famously said, “We have sunk to a depth in which re-statement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”

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  6. Jackson

    Hmm, again, I don’t really know, I need to research the topic at hand better I suppose. Has TD really misrepresented Mr Clarke? If so, I daresay that might make him guilty of what Eliot was talking about and Hendryk is stating the obvious… just not that obvious to me… oh dear

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