In practice, the system of parole is a sham, little more than a demand that offenders lie by expressing remorse. Programs to encourage criminals to change their ways have been proven repeatedly not to work. But even in theory, the idea of parole is a disgrace, says Dalrymple at the Spectator:
…the parole system is completely inimical to the rule of law. To grant or withhold liberty on the basis of speculations, inevitably inaccurate, about what people might or might not do in the future is to reinstitute what amounts to a star chamber.
A man is to be punished for what he has done beyond reasonable doubt, not for what some questionnaire or bogus calculation says he has a 70 per cent chance of doing at some time in the future.
Read it here
Dalrymple takes issue with the product instructions at the front of a notebook:
Well, how can journaling help you? It “is a great way to organise your thoughts, reduce mental clutter, and gain insight into who you are.” And when you find who you are—that is to say who you really are—it is bound to be someone rather splendid, not this imperfect specimen who sometimes does not tell the truth, grows irritable when things do not go his or her way, is impatient, loses his or her temper, can’t resist eating too many chocolates if they are there, eats too quickly, talks too much or too little, is spendthrift and ungenerous, is sometimes lazy, enjoys other people’s misfortunes, gossips maliciously, forgets to return telephone calls, and so forth. Journaling can help you to discover your inner perfection.
Why would the leaders of the various European separatist movements, in Catalonia, Scotland and elsewhere, make common cause with the pro-EU forces who would seem to be their strongest opponents? Dalrymple proposes several reasons, one of which is:
…the leaders of the nationalist parties or separatist groups want there to be more places at the top table—vacancies that they would then fill. They might even rise to the dizzying heights of the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, who has long bestridden the world, or Europe at any rate, like a colossus. This he could never have done without the existence of the EU. In other words, personal ambition and the megalomania of petty potentates.
Read it here
Not many of us would want to live next to a house whose owner had installed a life-size, fake shark on his roof, as one homeowner in Headington, Oxford did thirty years ago, but the problem with architecture in Britain today is due more to over-active bureaucrats than eccentric homeowners:
The authorities in charge of preservation often bully owners of listed houses in matters of tiny detail, at great cost to those owners, while simultaneously allowing for the wholesale desecration of whole townscapes. Anyone who doubts this phenomenon should take a look (just as one example among many) at Imperial Square in Cheltenham, where a criminally hideous tower office block has been permitted to ruin the outlook of a graceful Regency terrace once and for all.
Read it at Salisbury Review
How does one assess the significance of the recent accident in London in which a pedestrian was hit by four cars and none of them stopped to help her? As Dalrymple notes at the Salisbury Review, it was an isolated incident:
There are many hit-and-run incidents in London every year (currently about 5000), which is highly regrettable of course, and they have increased alarmingly of late years both in absolute numbers and as a proportion of all accidents; but fatalities and serious injuries have not risen in proportion to the number of hit-and-run accidents, suggesting that the increase is mostly in incidents that are relatively minor. As far as I am aware there have been no other accidents in which the victim was allegedly hit by four separate vehicles without the driver of any stopping, as if the victim were merely an injured pheasant in a country lane.
Read it here
Dalrymple on rap music at New English Review:
…of all the forms of music that I abominate, rap is by far the worst… [It] is the music of resentment, not of protest; its intention, it seems to me, as well as its effect, is to provide a justification in advance for impulsive, self-destructive and violent behaviour. Those who sell and promote it to a population already susceptible to its decerebrate message are far worse than mere prostitutes: they, not Socrates, deserve the hemlock.
He selects a rap song almost at random and analyzes its lyrics, which he finds “unutterably disgusting in its crudity” Read it here.
Forced to watch the BBC news, Dalrymple notices a story on two homeless mothers (unmarried, naturally) and their children, who complain of the living conditions in a homeless shelter:
[W]hat struck me most was that the interviewer did not think to ask (or, if he did, it was rigorously edited out) how the situation in which they found themselves had arisen in the first place. It is possible, though unlikely, that the two young women had contributed absolutely nothing to their own misfortunes by, for example, making unwise decisions. It is possible, though unlikely, that they had no relatives in a position to help them, and that for them the state was the only conceivable source of social solidarity and support. But in any case, these matters did not arise; to have asked such questions would have been to blame the victims.
Solve the problem, or just continue to complain about it? According to Dalrymple at Taki’s Magazine, finding a solution to life’s problems is often not as satisfying as we might suppose:
…the fact is that there is something profoundly comforting and enjoyable about complaint. It can continue indefinitely, whereas a solution occurs but once and destroys the problem forever. Once one has—as I have—reached a certain age, one does not like change, and solution to a problem means change. And change confronts one with one’s mortality.
Read it here
Arguing for leniency toward criminals, especially those who have confessed and expressed remorse, would seem to serve the cause of compassion. But what if the crimes are as depraved as those of Myra Hindley’s?
What does it mean for someone to say, “I now realize that kidnapping and torturing to death small children is wrong, and I deeply regret having done it”? She was comparatively young at the time of the commission of her acts, no doubt, but she knew perfectly well that they were wrong: their very wrongness, in fact, is what made them attractive to her. And how long after the commission of the acts does the realization of their wrongfulness and the regret at having done them have to be before they are deemed relevant to the question of the length or severity of punishment? Suppose they come instantaneously. Do we therefore say, “Well, that’s all right then, so long as you realize that what you did is wrong and regret having done it, we shall not punish you at all”—because to do so would be pure vengefulness?
Dalrymple at the Library of Law and Liberty
We missed this piece from the Spectator in September in which Dalrymple reported on the growing population of rats in Paris. (That is not a metaphor.) An effort by the city to reduce their numbers is actually being met with opposition from some quarters — the usual ones.
Rat catchers have been accused of ‘genocide’ by Parisians: pity the poor rats! They too are sentient creatures, with as much a right to live as we, even if they sometimes give us rat-bite fever and leptospirosis (and pity the poor spirochaete, the causative organism of leptospirosis, which without the rat would be reduced to mice as a reservoir). At the last count, 25,000 people have signed a petition to halt the slaughter.
Fear of rats is socially constructed, don’t you know?
Read it here