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Sunday, 03 December 2006

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I'm old enough to have a memory that the abolitionists PROMISED that life sentences would be for life and thus keep us safe. Were they consciously lying, I wonder? I'll bet that a lot of them were.

Probably the same people who promised that entry to the EU would not infringe British law!

"Who could he mean, Larry?"

Erm, I don't give a fuck what Peter Hitchens means about anything. If you and he are so keen on hanging, then I'd recommend you both to give it a go.


Hmmm, bit churlish, Larry! You seem to have replaced your rapier wit with a bludgeon recently. What's the matter? Love life tricky? Equations not working out? Galloping dandruff? Lighten up, man!

Oh dear.

A clear case of missing the point.

I listed a couple of reasons why it may be stupid to compare the statistics, and you focused upon one. If you want I’ll get out my “statistics in the social sciences” textbook and copy out the entire section on crime statistics. But I suspect that would be a waste of time as you appear not to understand the idea of complexity and uncertainty. As Larry has attempted to explain on several occasions, if you are giving the state the power to kill people then the burden of proof is upon you to demonstrate why it is a lesser evil.

Furthermore you haven’t addressed the other point I made, which was that if we accept the statistics are basically correct, we still are far from anything resembling a case for the re-introduction of capital punishment as correlation between statistics does not itself mean one causes another. I listed several factors that could be behind the rising murder rate, and which –if ignored – would ensure the re-introduction of capital punishment would have no/little effect on the murder rate and leave innocent people killed and a lot of lawyers very rich.

'PS' writes: "I listed a couple of reasons why it may be stupid to compare the statistics, and you focused upon one".

Yes, because it was a particularly irrelevant, and if I may say so, silly statistic which made no point whatsoever.

But, as ever, I am filled with admiration for your dexterity in debate. You admit that the murder statistics are *correct* but then state triumphantly that one set of statistics does not cause another. Well, on this particular subject of law and order, I must admit that I have never seen a statistic in the dock at the Old Bailey! People carry out crimes, not statistics, we all know that. But people's behaviour will alter according to circumstances. The circumstances from around 1960 were that executions were virtually halted. Since then the homicide rate has increased by around 218% - those utterly blameless and innocent statistics recorded the fact.

Now here I will grant you a little of what you are wishing for. I suspect, in fact I would put the deeds of the house on it, that, were we start hanging again, the homicide figures would *not* revert to the 1960 level. However, they would, in my judgement, gradually decrease because 'there is nothing that so concentrates a mind as a hanging in the morning'! Let me be very, very conservative in my estimate and suggest that after the first execution, over the next, say, 5 years the number of homicides, say, 875, would drop at a rate of 1%, then 2%, and then 3% ... up to 5% per year.

Now, and you are going to love this - if I am right (and you can rely on Dr. Teabag to check my sums), that would save the lives of 124 *innocent* people; so, 'if you are *refusing* the state the power to kill people then the burden of proof is upon you to demonstrate why it is a lesser evil'. Now where have I heard that argument before?

". You admit that the murder statistics are *correct*"

No I didn't. I wrote "if we accept the statistics are basically correct" as a qualifier before leading onto my next point.

So, they're wrong?

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