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Provoked?

October 28, 2009

Tell you something about me, that you probably hadn’t guessed. I bet you wouldn’t have thought for one second, that a left wing rabid feminist ranter like me, would be all ‘pro’-the ‘law and order’ agenda. Seriously, one of my biggest rant topics, is the way that we are so soft on crime.

Take murder for instance. What could drive you to commit murder? To take another persons life. How serious would it have to be, that you would actually take another human beings life?

Legislation provides human beings, in extraordinary situations, with a defence if they are ever unfortunate enough to find themselves in a situation, where they are faced with that question. I can argue that another persons conduct was so provocative, that it caused a temporary loss of control, and argue that the provocation was so severe, that I should be acquitted.

Seems sensible to me. But like I say. I am a bit of ranter about being tough on crime. So the question for me, to prevent us being soft on murderers, is what could reasonably constitute enough of a provocation?

As a social worker, and someone who grew up in care, am all to familiar with domestic abuse and its effects. I know the figures, which show Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is more likely to occur  if someone has been living in an environment where they are continually abused, rather than from one traumatic incident. I know that in children, we view ongoing abuse, as more damaging, than one single occurence.

I have seen the research which shows how closely the pattern of domestic abuse, mirrors techniques used to break prisoners of war, and how closely the trauma which results mirrors that experienced by pow’s. I figure anyone who has been subject to a cycle of abuse so damaging, can plead provocation. I am willing to accept that that is a mitigation, to accept that a killing should be treated as manslaughter in those circumstances.

I am not such a hard nut law and order ranter, not when there is so much clear evidence.

But lets put that reasonable use of the provocation term to the side for a moment. Lets look at some of the others for a second.

What about infidelity? If you came home to find your one and only, banging the milkman? I can see how you might be pissed off if that happened.  You know, relationships are hard, and finding out someone has betrayed you…I can see why that would fuck you off. Even heartbroken. Are those circumstances such, that you would lose control, temporarily, and commit murder? Is the act of being unfaithful, one that should cost you your life? Is infidelity punishable by death? I mean really, what is the actual effect of finding out your partner is banging someone else? You either live with it, and stay with that person, or you dont live with it, and  you start over. I never heard of someone dying because someone was unfaithful. A bruised ego. A broken heart. But the heart never stops actually beating.

The thing is, the domestic violence thing. THere is a clear body of evidence, that this could actually lead to a loss of control sufficient that you would take someones life. It took a long time, and a lot of fighting, before that evidence was accepted. What evidence is there, that for a reasonable person, finding out that their partner had sex with someone else, is likely to lead to them being completely unable to prevent themselves from killing that person. So much so, that they can be protected under law.

Well apparently, the judges that made this ruling, didnt need actual evidence. They watch telly, and go to the Opera-and you cant have a good story without a bit of sexual jealousy…

Now, I will leave my views on monogamy out of this for now(although again, I wonder what it is, that leads us to value this thing above all others, to the point where it is not just a grounds for divorce, but so serious that its absence would lead to justification for losing your life). As someone who is sick of this country being ‘SOFT ON CRIME’-I want to know what kind of message it sends, that so little self control is needed, that your partner being unfaithful is enough to justify you causing their death. Especially given how long it took for people to accept a clear body of evidence, that domestic abuse could be a provocation.

What I dont understand is, if I am ranting about Law and Order here. If I am ranting about being tough on crime. Tough on murderers. Why am I at odds with the traditional ‘law and order’ brigade. Couldn’t be because most victims of domestic violence are women could it? Or most people arguing that taking a persons life because they were unfaithful, was justified, are men would it? Nah. Then this wouldn’t be a ‘law and order’ rant, it would be a feminist rant… While we are on ‘law and order’-we could start talking about rape…but thats another blog post.

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