LAWS AND ASSES by Harry McAvinchey

the law is an ass

Look at it this way .I don’t think I’m alone in having some of these strange thoughts. Let’s assume that some of us believe that we live in an imperfect world. I know , for the most part  I love it and would wish to live nowhere else. I can’t imagine another planet I’d like to live on more , if you cared to ask me. Generally I love living in Ireland too. That’s not to say I couldn’t live somewhere else on the planet. I have , but Ireland  generally has much to offer. There’s the beauty of the natural landscape,  of course, and the variety of weather ; the almost daily variety of weather for those who can compare it with anywhere else.A unique little island at the edge of the known world..We sometimes say here , without any irony …”Forty seasons in one day”.

That’s not to say that this planet and my little part of it doesn’t throw up some right old questions and conundrums. We all live in a very strange world anyway, with  some very odd practices ,laws and customs.I was thinking about this quite recently .There was the high -profile case of Pistorius the Blade Runner recently that I talked about, before he was actually sentenced.I know , for example that he was able to afford very expensive lawyers to work for him. In the event of his sentence, there was much media talk about how “right” the sentence was. There was a perfect balance struck by the judge and all the rest…bladee, bladee blah!. He , apparently didn’t commit murder but instead , killed his girlfriend by mistake.You can cut that cake anyway you like , I’d imagine….but….

Most people I’ve heard talking about this simply feel, in their very bones that he got away with murder just like OJ Simpson. That would be my view from a straight forward point of view. I think that if he didn’t check to see where his girlfriend was before he shot into a locked bathroom , there had to be something very wrong with his reasoning…..or he simply killed her with four powerfull dum-dum bullets because …he was a complete “wrong un” and he lost his temper during an argument..  Who would have a gun with those kind of bullets anyway? That’s the kind of lethal tool that makes an awful mess. it doesn’t just wound someone. It takes them to shredded goes in small and comes out very big. That’s not a tool  for popping the odd grey rat for just protecting yourself .. That’s a little warzone all on its own. A weapon like that used in a small room would be like a cannon going off in a phonebox. Like I say , most people I speak to would be of the opinion that if he’s the kind of lunatic who fires off a powerful  pistol in a restaurant, then he most surely has some major problems, anyway. My wife has said , simply, that any woman with a bit of wit would avoid a guy like that like the plague….Like  ebola, in fact . I think she gets it very right. There is something there that just doesn’t stack up.That’s only an opinion of course. It’s only my opinion and it obviously isn’t how the law works.

There’s something very odd about how the law works anyway. Who, for example, came up with this great idea to give someone  a sentence  of, say ten years ,and then tell them they’ll be out after five years? What’s that all about?  Why not just give them five years in the first place and be done with it .? Maybe someone out there in cyber-space can help me with that one.To me that’s straight out of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”.How did we ever get to this?Apparently our Mr Bladerunner could be out in a matter of months anyway. There are people , like the girls who smuggled the drugs in Peru last year who are serving longer sentences .They may not be perfect [Who is?} , but they never fired a gun off in a restaurant or killed a woman behind a closed door with a small cannon.

Then there’s David Cameron’s latest hissy fit about having to pay his bill to the EU of €21 billion .Apparently this is something that has been coming since 2007 and was agreed to by EU leaders including Tony Blair, but David Cameron thinks the timing is a bit of jiggery -pokery and is connected to some Brussels mandarins loathing of him , so  he’s refusing to pay it .. Reneging on agreements is nothing new , of course.We’re well used to it here in Ireland. His new best buddies in the DUP are past masters at breaking promises. I suppose he could refuse to pay and accept the resulting fine . Apparently the fine from the European Court of Justice would amount to  a paltry{by comparison} €200 million . It just might be worth it in that respect to pay  the fine  and break his promise. The price is right, isn’t it?.

Who was it said that the law is an ass?

14 Responses to LAWS AND ASSES by Harry McAvinchey

  1. William Fay October 29, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    Blah, blah, blah, same rhetoric, different blogger.. It’s everyone else’s fault, Cameron broke promises, DUP broke promises, etc, getting particularly boring now. May I remind you of some promises that were broken by SF/IRA, or did they not happen?

    • Jude Collins October 29, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

      Well I definitely wouldn’t want to bore you, sweet William. But there is a ready remedy if it gets too eye-shutting/yawn-inducing.

      • Antonio October 29, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

        I think William is competing for and trying to capture Gregory Campbell’s title as the prince of whataboutery for Norn Iron – as good as his whataboutery is he will never succeed – Gregory is miles ahead of even the rest of the senior Dupers.

        Still though sweet William is pretty good in his own right – nearly all his posts have IRA in them – a green equivalent would be me mentioning the parachute regiment or the UDA in every single post I make

    • paddykool October 29, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

      What do you mean it’s everyone’s fault that Cameron broke promises, William ? Who is “everyone” in this scenario? I’m not exactly shocked here. I expect that of politicians . It’s all I’ve ever known of them all my life so there are no real surprises…Let’s not be partisan on this one..

      Let’s not be vague either. I can list several broken promises that fall in Peter Robinson’s lap, for example , because they are very fresh in the historical record and usually happen every summer…. before I ever get around to even mentioning Sinn Fein, Alliance the OUP or Alliance.. The thing is , nobody mentioned any names or parties except yourself ,William ,so if you care to list and educate us on all the renegers, back-pedallers, and truth -shifters that you can personally remember,…. fire away. It all helps to keep everything even -handed and we all need to fill in the gaps in our memory and knowledge..Fire away with gusto…

    • ANOTHER JUDE October 30, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

      But the points he makes ARE correct. Cameron IS reneging, the DUP have done likewise, better just admit it. The Tories are running scared of Nigel Farage and his band of fruitcakes and closet racists. Actually, if that is their base, they might actually be the one British party that could get someone elected in this corner of the empire. On second thoughts, those voters are well enough catered for as it is. Nelson, Sammy, Gregory, Peter, I am referring to you.

  2. Anthony Leisegang October 29, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Dear Harry,
    Writing from the Blade Runner’s South Africa, in mourning over the murder by armed robbery of its national soccer captain at the weekend, I am amazed at the seeming absence of logic in a so-called First World country.
    We have learned, of course, that Pistorius’ judgment and sentence is to be appealed by the State, and try to keep informed about the latest on Irish Water and the exploitive high jinks regarding mere allegations by an anti-Adams “lady”.
    Do you know that kids in our fairest Cape Town cannot cycle to school in leafy suburbs any longer because they are hijacked for their mobile phones and bicycles?
    Two of my three lads were hijacked in high school, one twice.
    That nobody is safe even in a “security village” such as Pistorius’ because guarded by untrained, underpaid “security officers” only?
    That robbers in shopping malls use supermarket trolleys loaded with loot when they stroll out in escape because nobody dare try to confront their guns?
    That the “black” judge in Pistorius’ case was a journalist before going into law, so she knows about the realities? Indeed, that there is 24-hour armed police guard on her home?
    The lady judge knows all about fear of what “goes bump in the night” and can put feet easily into Pistorius’ blades — though knows they might handicap rather than help.
    She, not we, looked into Pistorius’ eyes and could watch his unguarded reactions during weeks of unpleasant testimony and horrific presentation of evidence.
    So much for democracy, one is inclined to say — that one woman can be right and thousands of armchair critic wrong is a reflection on the critics, whatever the outcome of the appeal process.
    South African prisons are hideously and notoriously overcrowded (up to three times) and poorly staffed (nepotism does not produce good warders and specialist medical and other staff).
    In a different case, after visiting the country, Bristol businessman Shrien Dewani’s legal and medical team were able to negotiate his stay in reasonable conditions at the best mental illness institution in Cape Town.
    Losing his career and all that he owns is a severe punishment already for a man who was an example of courage and determination to the handicapped and able-bodied around the world.
    Did he shoot with intent to kill his lovely lawyer (could he have chosen a worse target?) model (ditto, given public sentiment) girlfriend?
    Did he shoot without meaning to kill the person, whomsoever it might be, on the other side of the bathroom door?
    Are his antics with guns, and choice of the most powerful ammunition, an indication of strength or weakness?
    I do think the judge is in a better position than you or I to measure the likelihoods.
    It will be interesting to hear the lawyers debate the points of law.
    But then, as you say, the law is an ass — what does it know of Truth and Justice!

    • paddykool October 29, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

      So , Anthony , I take it ,that in your opinion , the Bladerunner is an innocent man who made a mistake.brought on by paranoia? Is that your honest opinion? I don’t think his girl friend ‘s parents share your view and i believe that if you asked virtually anyone who has followed this case in the media , they would compare it to the OJ Simpson debacle.
      It’s not as if we don’t know about paranoia and bloodshed in Ireland either.
      in “peacetime” …, as I type this there is a news item on the tv about a son murdering his elderly parents.On another item a man in the Uk has shotgunned his wife and her daughter plus several dogs.These things are happening everyday …everywhere. The only thing that makes this in any way extraordinary is the fact that the man in court was famous.To say that the Bladerunner has lost everything is frankly not even relevant considering his girlfriend has been gunned to death when her parents say she was on the point of leaving him..She is the one who has lost everything.. Then again , we are all only sharing our perspectives and opinions..

      • Anthony Leisegang October 29, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

        Sure, Paddy, your points — and more damaging ones, in fact — have been tossed about in the media throughout the case, and have relevance.
        Not so much broadcast, let along collated, have been Pistorius’ psychology — an absent father, a mother who slept with a gun under her pillow and called the cops when she heard a noise (shepherding the kids into a room awaiting their arrival), being handicapped in normal circumstances (off-track) by his protheses, his father having been carjacked once and his brother twice etc etc etc.
        The South African crime situation in his part of the country is horrific. Paranoia is “normal” there, three cousins of mine carjacked, all I am sure robbed.
        There are indeed many parallels with Ireland north and south.
        The argument you raise on who lost what has been raised many times but is, I believe, a false one. Both lost because of the above, not because Pistorius was totally at fault.
        And Reeva’s parents, both of them indigent, were hoping for rescue in their plight from Reeva — the mother today from what sounds like a rather pathetic book.
        They have gone cap in hand to everybody they can think of from media to the corrupt ANC government’s women’s league. Their story on Reeva is their own.
        I know two of the regular legal commentators personally, and it’s a case both agree is a tragedy for all parties concerned — not least Pistorius.
        One is a top professor of law at Wits, the other national Law Society chairman.
        Compared with the sophistication and depth of our constitutional and criminal law system, those of north and south Ireland are pathetic — and so are their politicians and other practitioners.
        The time is long overdue for ordinary Irish both sides of the divide to gather together the best brains of the island and beg them to stop leaving — to stay and build.
        They might learn a lesson or two from how things are still done properly in a South Africa almost drowning in crime and corruption by people with a will to “do right”.
        On the contrary, Reeva has nothing more to lose.
        Pistorius and kids he can inspire do.

    • Anthony Leisegang October 29, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

      Another point raised surely doesn’t need explanation in a so-called First World country — the purpose of parole or sentence remission, and rehabilitation of offenders.
      Prisons are over-full in Ireland and England too, but parole and remission is intended only in part to free up (no pun intended) space for more convicts once some time is served.
      Punishment it itself can be adjusted to and accepted, but a key aspect to imprisonment is rehabilitation.
      If a convict show signs of having “changed”, that second task is accomplished.
      The prisoner is encouraged not to continue crime while in prison by the prospect of parole.
      Will Pistorius ever carry a gun again? I doubt it — that he would want to, let alone be allowed to lawfully in South Africa.
      Would he then stay in a country with the highest reported murder rate in the world? If he could afford to, I think he’d move.
      Is there no rehabilitation in Ireland’s prisons? Occupational therapy, skills development? Parole?
      In South Africa, despite overcrowding there is — and sport is high on the agenda.
      Repeat offences are to be avoided, change to lawfully productive lives encouraged.
      Otherwise the reverse happens — prisoners find new gang mates, learn how to commit new crimes, while incarcerated.
      Now THAT is justice, surely — rather than law or judgment in ignorance.

      • paddykool October 29, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

        Anthony , i have no doubt that the situation for Pistorious was a difficult one .I don’t doubt that he was a very unique individual either . He certainly wasn’t handed the best start in life, being born with a deformity that would completely inform his every moment of life. I dare say that anyone would prefer to have whole limbs rather than ones that had to be attached , no matter the sporting glories that the new limbs eventually brought. Much has been made of his background too. The thing is that at no point is there a question in your mind that he might simply have a character flaw that led to a paranoid rage in which he wished to control a situation and a woman and finally killed her.To my mind that is a very distinct possibility , given that he has previous form as an unstable personality with a propensity to fetishise weaponry.Not only that , but to discharge guns in public places and possess some very lethal and possibly illegal firepower doesn’t bode well either. Given that his artificial limbs made him harder, stronger and more athletic than most of the population , i can’t really see him being socially disadvantaged . The fact that he attracted a beautiful woman too ,seems to point tp the fact that his deformity wasn’t a stumbling block to romance…..or maybe it subsequently was in this case. The relationship appears to have hit the buffers for either personality or physical reasons within a short space of time. We don’y know but it appears to have been ending. Her mother claims she had her bags packed for leaving.
        There are many people who are stressed , bad-tempered, erratic or whatever who never , ever allow that rage to lead to killing. There are others who are not made of that clay. The gaols everywhere in the world are full of people who either make a mistake or embrace their violent side.They are not all angels who have fallen from grace . Some just are criminally -minded or think they can do anything they want to do and expect to get away with it.There are plenty of public personas who act a little like outlaws . A lot of those who seek fame are already flawed characters. It’s part of that deal.
        This piece is more to do with the seeming craziness of the law’s sentencing in any case. This is just an example..There is no mention of punishment as a way to deal with crime . The deterrent factor..Sometimes a personality disorder can’t be excused ….can’t be rehabilitated. There are plenty of sociopaths out there ..and plenty who will be locked up forever to protect the rest of us.
        Also, if South Africa is such a lawless place where gun law, robbery and brigandry rules at a level higher than anywhere else, it sounds like the American Wild West in the 1860’s. Are you saying that everyone needs to pack weaponry because there is so much lawlessness and police corruption and that it’s simply kill or be killed ?Are you saying that the prison system is so corrupt that an athlete like the Blade Runner could not be protected? If that’s the case what about everyone else who ‘s locked up in there and why should he be any more “special” than any of them? South africa sounds like a place to get out of very quickly.
        The bottom line is , though…he killed his girlfriend very violently in very odd circumstances. You seem to think that his background somehow gives him a “get out of gaol card” because he was somehow damaged by actually just being himself…he could do no other……You also seem to believe that the judge had to walk a tightrope of appeasement , rather than simply deal with the logic of the facts that any person would follow…from any background. Who was she appeasing anyway? I would have thought that it was a case of whether the killing made logical sense or not….Giving his past form i would more easily believe that he lost his temper like he did in the past. The old adage of the leopard and his spots springs to mind.
        So there you have it .The other thing is ..why does a particular gaol term simply not mean what it says?.Surely a fixed term for a crime makes perfect sense? It’s like paying a realistic price for a service or for some goods. The fact is some of the gaol terms are ridiculous.A few years or months for someone’s life? How can that be fair?
        In all of this the victim hardly merits a mention.

  3. Anthony Leisegang October 30, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Paddy, we are in agreement that Pistorius suffered a personality flaw — indeed, I have argued myself that it is this which drove him to excel internationally with his physical handicap.
    You do miss the point that Reeva’s parents are indigent — that their flaw is at least as great.
    Regarding conviction on manslaughter/culpable homicide rather than one two options of murder (one intent to kill a particular person, the other intent to kill and other person), the judge found that the prosecution had not produced sufficient evidence for murder so was left with the lesser conviction.
    OJ Simpson had a history of violence, Pistorius did not — his “flaws” had been directed by great self-discipline into athletics and charity work. End of story.
    Like Simpson, a civil claim can, however, be made by Reeva’s dependants — though this has been compromised by the mother’s own actions in making capital out of her daughter’s death and in particular accepting money from Pistorius to live on. The appeal hearing will likely exhaust his money, so they are unlikely to get any more.
    Meanwhile don’t believe a word the mother says — she has long proven herself only after money.
    Regarding jail time, I have explained most issues above — punishment/reprisal and deterrence is only one aspect, rehabilitation and prevention of further crime more important.
    If you do not hold out the carrot of parole, what incentive is there for rehabilitation and avoidance of planning for further crime on release?
    The case itself and the monetary and other costs to “national hero” Pistorius are an enormous deterrent. Many in his position would commit suicide, and indeed suicide pills (strong medication) are sold in prisons along with “recreational drugs”.
    Now, you talk of Pistorius’ “deformity”. Again, I have discussed this aspect — it is not a deformity so much as a severe handicap when physically attacked, whether wearing the prostheses or not.
    Likely he had an advantage with the blades in running (the latest allow a fit person to run at 25mph). But in a “contact sport” or criminal attack, even dancing, he would be at severe disadvantage.
    This was demonstrated in a film broadcast on Australian TV, and doctors testified on his capabilities.
    Yes, parts of South Africa (most in “black areas”) are indeed like the Wild West and, yes, both the police service and prison system are utterly corrupt and dangerous.
    Even in prison hospital sections there is no safety (from other prisoners to incompetent nurses where such exist).
    In your last words on sentencing, you get close to an important issue: the judge gave him five years only, which means he would be eligible (not guaranteed of by any means) for parole (with community service, living restrictions etc) after only 10 months.
    Had she given six years, he would have to serve five years before being eligible. Those are the rules — over five years makes a huge difference.
    What purpose would be served by any incarceration at all in his case?
    That is the question we have to ask — rules aside.
    Pistorius inspired even able-bodied worldwide.
    But some remain seated.

  4. ANOTHER JUDE October 30, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    Ninety nine point nine per cent of me believes Piss Storyus is a murderer, The point one per cent holding me back is the thought he looks like the sort of fussy bastard who wouldn`t damage a good bathroom door. I don`t know whether a jury would have found him guilty of murder though, there have been a lot of cases where celebrities have been acquitted by star struck members of the public.Oscar (well named considering his performance in the court) will either end up on a slab in jail or he will shoot another person when he is released. As for the whole legal apparatus in South Africa, it looks to me like they are more or less using the Diplock court method, never a good thing.

    • Anthony Leisegang October 31, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

      Now I wasn’t at the trial, Another Jude, but a competent judge and rottweiler legally-highly-competent wrestling champ (in real life) prosecutor were — his performance the staring act, not Oscar’s.
      The State failed to convince me that Pistorius (a champion sportsman, which requires discipline on multiple fronts — what is your ability?) was a pathological killer. Or that he intended to kill his girlfriend.
      Silly with guns, yes, and I suspect your 0.1% observation may be right. His “carelessness” cost him a manslaughter/culpable homicide conviction.
      Dunno about a jury — Reeva was a glamour girl all might have been blinded by even past tense regarding points of law.
      And look at the thousands, likely millions of incompetent “judges” who have had no shyness in convicting the guy in their own ignorance of facts and absence from the trial !!!
      South Africa’s legal system, but not the justice system as a whole, is excellent — there is judges’ peer review, not layman jury review, of evidence, conviction and sentencing.
      It was a South African judge who was sent to head the Irish Border Commission, and our Judge Goldstone has been most prominent peace-broking recently in Palestine.
      However, to get justice in a South African court requires money — which is unfair. Free legal aid is worse than useless because “affirmative action”.
      The saving grace in it all is that prisons are many times overfull, and magistrates and judges prefer to apply other sentences where possible.
      Punishment/reprisal is caveman stuff they like to avoid.
      I’m happy to keep this discussion going.
      Who knows ….

  5. Anthony Leisegang November 1, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    For those who want a retrial of the parties in the Pistorius case: