A trial or a lynching? It is all in the timing.


Charles Cora and James Casey are lynched by the Committee of Vigilance, San Francisco, 1856.

Rupert’s little boy Jimmy is back in the news, a letter has surfaced that calls into question his integrity.   Mr. Murdoch, the younger, has denied any knowledge of the hacking, but the letter says the topic was frequently and openly discussed among the editorial staff.  The Murdoch-the-hacker story took a week or two off while London broke out with a bad case of the riots; but now it is moving back up the priority list.  For one thing, it is the Guardian‘s story and the Guardian is going to look for every bit of evidence it can find and release it – good for sales and good for the old reputation, eh?  The riots on the other hand was everyone’s story and did not contribute the Guardian‘s sales or prestige.  However, with or without the Guardian, it appears there is plenty of evidence ready to leak its way into the media and government’s file folder to keep this story going for a long, long time.

The wheels of justice are said to grind slowly and if they grind too slowly, it is said that justice delayed is justice denied.  Mr. Murdoch and his aging father – aptly defended by a much younger and quicker wife when circumstance require – are  willing to let this thing drag out for a long time; and without a doubt, at every opportunity their lawyers will further delay the case with every means available to them.  Ah, the advantages of being rich – an army of highly paid attorneys to fight and delay fights for you.   Contrast that with the speed of the rioter trials.  Within a week the first sentences were already being handed out – 1300 so far.  In the past when such things have happened in other places – except evil communist or other dictatorial regimes – it takes months just to find and arrest the suspects; and then it is likely to be years before the trial and the sentences.  But, the judges and the government in England are in an all out sprint.  They cite the severity of the issue – not necessary the severity of the individual crimes – one young man stole two ice cream cones – and the need to send a message to would-be rioters.

A slight delay just might have produced a more just outcome; in a month or two everyone involved will be a little calmer and have other things to think about – like Murdoch, the economy, the underlying causes of the riots, Syria and Libya.   The issue is becoming very political with Cameron’s opponents accusing him of everything from political maneuvering and foolishness to impatience unbecoming a of prime minister.

David Ward, MP for Bradford East, described plans to withdraw benefits of offenders as “nuts” and Tessa Munt, the MP for Wells, said the plans were “bonkers, bonkers, bonkers”. She said: “Frankly, this all smacks of headline grabbing by Conservatives, not calm rational policy-making.” Guardian, 8-16-11

The Tories are accusing David Cameron and the Conservatives of pushing this to extremes to strengthen the party’s position before Parliament returns in September.  And the Lib Dem backbenchers (don’t you love English political designations?) say it just knee jerking, bad judgement and short-term thinking. It is too bad parliament is not in session, it would be great fun listening to the debate during the Prime Ministers Questions time. At least Cameron would have to explain what the process and that might slow things down just a bit.

Justice delayed may be justice denied – but justice rushed in justice perverted.  Besides the kid who stole the ice cream cone, let me cite one more example – a young man who posted a call to riot on Facebook.  He called for others to join him in rioting and gave a time and place – near a McDonald’s.  The young man showed up, but no one else (the article did not give the number of Facebook friends he had), except the police who had been monitoring his Facebook page – he was sentenced to four years in a “young offenders institution prison.  There have been 1300 trials in just over a week – that, in my opinion is closer to vigilante revenge than justice – but of course, that is just my opinion.  I do not deny the need of every society to protect its citizens and maintain order, and that requires trying suspected violators of the laws of public safety and punishing the guilty.  But it is in the process that justice is found and that process is the foundation of our civilization – anything else is revenge.

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1 Response to “A trial or a lynching? It is all in the timing.”


  1. 1 Jabittan August 18, 2011 at 5:58 am

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/08/17/rushkoff.flash.mobs/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

    Interesting article about “Flash Mobs” organized by social media. I think he is right, limiting access and using the government to control or police social media is not the solution. Educating children, and being responsible is the only solution. Though for social media, technologically illiterate parents probably wont be the ones to educate our countries youth.


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