Here is a perfect story of modern Britain. A judge has been publicly reprimanded by a Tory Cabinet Minister for advising a criminal to lose weight and get a job.
I do not know if the allegedly overweight offender took the well-meant advice, but I somehow doubt it. Having spotted the way power and morals are going in modern Britain, he made a formal complaint that the judge had used ‘abusive language’ – and it succeeded. I wonder if he is now also entitled to compensation?
The judge, Recorder Julian Malins QC, flatly refused to agree that he had done anything wrong. Partly because he stood up for himself in this way, he was given a formal warning by the then Justice Minister and Lord Chancellor, David Gauke. Mr Gauke has since left this post but is, I believe, still a member of the ‘Conservative’ Party.
Under fire: A judge has been reprimanded by a Tory Cabinet Minister for advising a criminal to lose weight and get a job
The official public notice from the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO), highly damaging to a judge’s career, says that, in reaching their decision, Mr Gauke and the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, ‘took into consideration that the Recorder failed to acknowledge the inappropriateness of his conduct’.
The JCIO posted the reprimand on its website, but refuses to discuss the matter. I asked Mr Gauke to comment, asking him what was conservative about his action, and in what way he differed from the most politically correct wing of the Labour Party, but he has so far chosen not to do so. I do not know the identity of the criminal.
Mr Malins, 69, an experienced barrister, tells me he still has no regrets. He says the defendant involved, who is now in his 50s, had appeared in court 40 times in 35 years, had accumulated 60 convictions and served several prison terms, including a lengthy sentence for GBH with intent. But on the day he came before Mr Malins, it was for a lesser matter and he was told he could go free. At that point the man interrupted proceedings to say a weight ‘had been lifted from my shoulders’.
Mr Malins replied: ‘You had better not worry about the weight off your shoulders, but should rather worry about the weight on your body.’ The defendant then asked the judge to repeat himself, which he did.
Mr Malins, who tells me he is just over 5ft 10in and weighs just over 12½ stone, says the man was so fat he had to be helped into the dock. He responded to the complaint by politely telling the defendant in detail that he needed to lose weight and get a job. He explained this was for his own sake and the good of society.
Warning: Recorder Julian Malins QC was formally warned by former Justice Secretary David Gauke over his comments
As for the claim of abusive language, Mr Malins says: ‘I reject that suggestion absolutely. On the contrary, the advice which I gave him was sincere, well meant, and, I believe, very good.’
At first glance, the thing is just ridiculous. You think that at some point you will wake up in the midst of this nonsense, and grown-ups will return, from wherever they have been hiding, to restore the country to sanity. But they don’t. The one thing you can be sure of in this country now is that the state, where it possibly can be, will be against common sense.
But it is deeper than that. We now have a state which, when asked to choose between a learned judge and a frequently convicted criminal, sides with the criminal as if they are on an equal footing. There is no moral force and bite in our cardboard criminal justice system.
It sees its job as to negotiate, neutrally, between ‘society’ and ‘offenders’ whose misdeeds are not really their fault, but are explained by poverty, abuse or some other fashionable misfortune. And it reserves special spite for anyone who tries to behave as if things were still as they used to be. The householder who defends himself against a burglar is more severely investigated than most burglaries. This is because his action threatens the monopoly of soft justice.
You are alone. If dangerous evil comes your way, do not expect our current establishment to take your side and defend you. If you dare to defend yourself, it will quite possibly be you who ends up in the dock.
As for the ‘Conservative’ Party, can someone remind me, what is it for?
Electric tale with no spark
I regard electricity as a sort of miracle, a mainly invisible force which we can measure, observe and use, but can’t really explain. So I longed to like The Current War, a new film about the bitter battle between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse for control of the US power grid. But while it is sometimes beautiful and moving, and features the wonderful Cragside mansion of the British arms mogul William Armstrong, it is cartoonish and shapeless.
It would have been better done 50 years ago. I sometimes wish Hollywood would realise that not all of us are phone zombies, and some still have an attention span longer than five seconds.
Cannabis means more crazy people
As the sickly-sweet stench of marijuana spreads ever further across the once-civilised Western world, there is one universal result. There are more crazy people. Some of them are dangerous.
Many of them are crazy because they have fried their brains with skunk. Some are crazier still because baffled doctors have added to the cocktail with various poorly understood prescription drugs.
But the chances that you will meet such a person grow daily, as our leaders refuse to enforce the laws against marijuana possession. They will grow still more if they are stupid enough to bow to the billionaire campaign to legalise this poison.
Yet last week I wrote to a prominent political figure to seek his help in fighting this mistake, and he said he was too busy. This may be deeply unwise. Amid the usual emotional and incurious coverage of the latest US rampage killings, the news has quietly leaked out that the Dayton killer, Connor Betts, was (as I knew he would be) a marijuana user. His girlfriend Lyndsi Doll has told the Washington Post that the shooter suffered hallucinations and menacing voices in his head, and feared he was developing schizophrenia. Why would that be?
There’s a clue in the logo of Betts’s repellent rock band Menstrual Munchies. It is a marijuana plant. But would you like more?
Marijuana has led to a spread of ‘crazy people’ according to Hitchens
Well, another former friend told the Post that Betts’s group of friends had a reputation at Bellbrook High School as ‘the outcast kids that the cool kids didn’t really like’. And what did they do at weekends? Why, they smoked marijuana. I have no doubt that something similar will eventually emerge about the alleged El Paso shooter, too. Sometimes it takes months, even years, but it always does. And it’s not just in the USA. You might wonder what role marijuana had in several violent episodes in Britain recently, and you would be wise to do so.
A correspondent recently wrote to me from Washington state, which went soft on users in 1971, fell for the ‘medical pot’ scam in 1998, and ended up legalising it for recreational use in 2012. What happened? He describes matters: ‘Seattle has hundreds of people who live on the streets who have been completely relieved of their mental capacity. They have no cognitive functions left apart from shouting incomprehensible nonsense.
‘I write this while one such person is wandering up and down the aisle of the bus I’m riding, screaming at the top of his lungs and banging on the windows.’
If only that was all they did.