It’s a while since I did a post on anything other than parenting or writing or any kind of rant of statement of my position on something. Mostly this is because I realise I have fairly strong views on a lot of subjects which people often do not agree with. While I enjoy discussion and debate, that’s not what I’m trying to do and to enter into debate properly is, frankly, exhausting and I have plenty of other drains on my time and energy.
I just felt this morning though that I’d like to get something off my chest.
Capital punishment. It’s Just Not Right. No-one has the right to kill another human being. It’s THAT simple. Wilfully taking the life of someone else is murder. There are cases of self-defence, there are cases of insanity. In both of those cases I’d argue that the person doing the killing probably did not willingly do so, and they will have their own demons to face. But killing another person in cold blood is wrong, and it is uncivilised. No matter that you can use a drug that just puts someone to sleep – it’s still killing them, there’s no civilised way to do that. And it’s not always painless – there are states in America that are changing the drug they use despite clear evidence that the new drug causes pain and suffering.
What about child-killers? Exactly the same – they are still human and you CANNOT kill someone in cold blood. I have been asked repeatedly, usually with a smug air of victory, how I would feel if someone had killed my children. In that unthinkable situation yes, I would probably want that person to die, to be punished, to suffer terribly. THAT is why we have a legal system and justice. I have indescribable sympathy for parents in that situation, believe me. But what, exactly, would it achieve?
And I absolutely cannot buy into the argument that police-killers should be executed. Why are the police of more value than any other member of society? And I say, aggressively, that you need to be wilfully misunderstanding me to think that I am saying the police are NOT of value. I am saying that EVERY member of society is equally valuable. Whether it’s a ninety year old pensioner going to church every week, a police officer, a teacher, a nurse, a child, a drug addict, a criminal, someone who’s gay, someone who’s arabic, someone who’s disabled…
When you start differentiating between people’s value and worth, you become something less than human. I have just finished reading The Hunger Games. One of the things that struck me was Katniss’ fury that she and the other tributes were seen as worthless, disposable. But society is heading that way. There is an increasing reluctance to take on the responsibility of caring for each other. The NHS is in the process of being sold off. The provision of wheelchairs for disabled children, for example, is seen as of less importance than making a profit from that provision. Schools are being turned into academies – the provision of quality, free education for all children is of less importance than getting a return on the investment, whether that is in the form of results at whatever cost or direct financial return in the form of sponsorship from private companies. David Cameron (and, ironically, the only generation ever to benefit fully from the welfare state is the one dismantling it) is at the helm of these processes, but he is not solely responsible. It has been underway for years, and we are responsible because we vote in people who want to continue along this path. We would rather pay less tax and have a little bit more in our pockets than support the weakest and most vulnerable amongst us.
And one day it will come back to bite us. One day, we will be the ones whose investment has collapsed, or whose pension is being cut, or whose grandmother needs a basic standard of terminal care that she is not receiving. And then we will have to ask ourselves why our values have been so misplaced.
Tirade over, normal service will be resumed soon.