Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Make the punishment fit the crime

WEYMOUTH has recently had to endure another attack by Neanderthals on one of its cemeteries.

Much has been made about how such vandals don’t seem to have the mentality to realise the anguish their damage is causing to the relatives and friends of those whose graves they attack, but I take a different view.

I feel these people just don’t have any mental grasp of life full stop.

You don’t need to attend a Government training course to learn that smashing up graves is inherently wrong. It should be self-evident.

Take that a step further and, if vandals can’t grasp that grave bashing is wrong, why should we expect them to be able to grasp and appreciate the distress felt by those who visit and tend those graves? They just don’t care. Only the buzz of destruction matters, not side issues such as people’s feelings.

Accordingly I suggest that we don’t turn the other cheek as perhaps Christianity demands because nearly 40 years as a journalist has taught me that such scum will merely slap that one as well.

No, let’s fight fire with fire. A man in America was given seven years for defiling 57 graves in a Jewish cemetery while one in New Zealand escaped jail for spraying swastikas on Jewish graves only because the Jewish community forgave him.

Another vandal escaped with probation for taking a sledgehammer to gravestones because a woman wouldn’t go out on a date with him.

Perhaps the single most graphic incident which supports my stance happened in Scotland where three teenage vandals who wrecked nearly 90 graves were given three months, two months and two months respectively in a young offender institution.

The Sheriff told them they were “fortunate my powers of sentencing are restricted to a maximum of three months” and this is my point.

Make the punishment fit the crime. I am not saying we should go to the extremes of American sentencing, but justice demands that such vandals receive more than a slapped wrist, more than a token community sentence, more than “you’ve been a bad boy. Don’t do it again”.

Overhaul the law. Allow judges and courts to impose jail sentences which reflect the severity of the incident because, until there is a real deterrent, this sort of unsavoury crime will continue.

Who would want to celebrate celery day?

EASTER eggs are now with us from glutinous cream concoctions to: “Mummy, I want that one. It’s the biggest!”

To read this you’d think chocolate delights were just starting to make their appearances, but the industry has been touting its wares since October.

This column has commented before on the blurring of the seasons with Christmas on sale in the summer and nothing seems to have changed.

Someone very kindly bought me six cream eggs as a “get well soon” after my recent hospital exploits so, because my appetite is still trying to recover, my children were only too happy to help me polish them off.

But I had to draw the line at going out for “refills” because I want to stay away from doctors for a long, long time.

It did, however, spark a thought that these splurges are always for things which aren’t really good for you. You never seem to see a celery day or a cucumber festival. 
Just as well too. A stick of celery is the last thing I want after a mouthful of cream egg.

Has it been raining?

WELL, what a surprise that was! Last month has been so wet that Weymouth has set a new January record for rainfall since records began in 1886.

Little hints such as gardens turned into lakes, roads left underwater and traffic wardens forced to swim to give submerged cars a parking ticket were all signs that January was going to be an exceptional month for rainfall.

I spent most of it in hospital in Slough, but the journey home to Weymouth was like watching excerpts from Waterworld.

One section of road had water on both sides as far as the eye could see, we saw livestock cropping a few square yards of grass completely surrounded by water and I lost count of the “Flood” or “Road Closed” signs we saw along the way.

Back in soggy Weymouth, my garden was like a giant earth-coloured bowl of porridge while the Radipole and Lodmoor reserves looked like inland seas.

It has all proved too much for some people whose properties have been battered about so much that they have stopped trying to repair them.

One home, its wooden panel fence torn apart, had solved the problem of what to do next by simply leaning two stricken panels up against each other and nailing one central point to the remains of a post!

So, as we all try to dry out, I offer this thought to console you all with. How long will it be before the first drought story of the year?

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