Conflicted – a great word, that. The Americans are powerful people for taking nouns and changing them into verbs, and ‘conflicted’ is a good example. It’s also the state I find myself in this morning as the sun shines in the window onto my desk and I listen to the buzz of a neighbour’s tree being cut down.
So what am I conflicted about? Well, Theresa May, actually. Or rather, the proposal Teresa has made that people found guilty of killing a police officer or a prison warden should be locked up for a very long time – longer than would be the case had they killed, say, someone out of work or the local rat-catcher.
The reason I’m conflicted is that my initial reaction is to say ‘For once I agree with the Tories’. All lives are precious, but policemen and women, as those authorised to uphold the law that protects us all, are of particular significance. To strike at them is to strike at us all. So although I can’t stick the May woman, I’d have to agree with her on this one.
That is, until I think for a minute. Might there be other groups which play a key role in our society? Take the killing of Pat Finucane. One of the heinous qualities of that crime was that Finucane was a solicitor – a man whose work was to make sure that people got justice in our courts. His killing was brutal, and the fact that there was state collusion makes it even more vile; but the fact that he was a solicitor, part of the network which looks to protect us all, made him special. So maybe there’s a case for particularly long sentences for those who kill a lawyer?
And then there are judges. And journalists. And doctors. All key jobs, devoted to the welfare and protection of society and its members. Shouldn’t the killers of such people pay a particularly heavy price too?
In short, you begin to see that an awful lot of jobs have a unique role to play. Their members are deserving of protection and their killers deserving of punishment. But a heavier punishment than the killing of someone who has different work or no work at all? There are so many jobs which, it could be argued, are vital to a healthy society, the people holding them should be protected. Assuming, of course, that the judge, the policeman, the doctor, the journalist is doing his/her job properly.
See what I mean about being conflicted? Perhaps the best solution is for all human life, regardless of job or trade or profession or circumstances, to be regarded as sacred, and the killing of any man or woman deserving of equal punishment.