Trial offers

Friday 20th May 2011

“MOST people don’t realise you get a discount for pleading guilty.”

At which point, seething, I snap the radio off and finish the washing-up unaccompanied. It goes back to Orwell and a reluctance to be poisoned by Newspeak.

Discount? Can the man known as the ‘justice secretary’ really be using such a term? Are we talking courts of law here, or the market-place?

“Ah, good morning, Mr Accused. Now, before we begin this prosecution, you might like to look around at some of the special plea bargains available this week. As a rapist, you can take full advantage of our 3-for-the-price-of-2 deal… or, if you have a loyalty card, there’s the 50% reduction on all date rapes, gang bangs and other violent violations. Why not take a moment to browse our catalogue of trial offers?”

Discount? Wait a minute. I check the Oxford English Dictionary. It reveals ‘a deduction made for payment’, mentioning ‘a bill or account’, ‘cash’ and ‘the nominal value or price’.

Ah, so it’s all about the money, is it, Ken? Cutting public spending by cutting deals. Two birds, one stone: no costly trials and a reduced prison population by letting rapists out early. Very clever. Presumably you could then make the same generous offer to unarmed robbers who operate in banks.

Later I discover that the interview became extremely contentious. Clarke appears to regard only some cases of rape as ‘serious’. What?!?

On leaving his house in the evening, the closest he can get to an apology is:

“If anybody was offended by what I said, well I obviously made a mistake in my choice of words. I have to make sure not to do so again.”

This too disturbs me.

Words are the medium through which we express thoughts. The ‘choice of words’ we make reveals the thinking behind those words, Mr Clarke.

Moreover, your intention not to repeat your offence suggests to me only that, in future, you will attempt to hide what you are really thinking behind the politician’s masquerade of lies and/or silence.

I find you guilty on all counts.

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