|Posted by Miri on October 13, 2020 at 5:45 AM|
n the UK, as in most of Europe, we don't have the death penalty, which means the very worst punishment our society recognises is life in prison. That is the harshest retribution our culture and judicial system can conceive of.
But why is life imprisonment considered such a uniquely severe penalty? After all, prisoners are kept warm, fed, and entertained. They're not physically tortured or starved. They have access to books and games and TV.
Yet it's still considered the worst punishment many societies have to offer. Why?
It's because it deprives people of the single most important facet of life - liberty. That is the only answer there can be, because otherwise, what's so bad about life in prison? All your basic needs are met, you don't have to worry about rent or bills, and you have access to entertainment and education. But prison is still recognised as a profound punishment and effective deterrent, because it removes liberty and prohibits independence and self-determination - which all societies innately know are the most important parts of life, and therefore removing them, the worst punishment.
So: compare that to our "new normal", where we've lost our jobs and must depend on the state to subsidise us, we can't see family and friends, and we are severely restricted in our movements, restrictions which are enforced by the state.
"What are you complaining about?" Demand the muzzled masses. "Aren't you being kept warm? Aren't you well fed? Aren't your rent and bills being covered? Don't you have Netflix and Facebook and YouTube? Can't you do your studies online?"
Well - you could say the exact same thing to someone doing a life sentence for murder. If "lockdown" isn't so bad, then neither is life in prison, because there is no material difference between the two.
That is why these measures are so abhorrent and so unjustifiable, so completely and utterly obscene. We have delivered society's worst punishment - the forcible removal of liberty by the state - to millions of completely innocent people, who have been treated with more indignity and contempt than sadistic mass murderers, who uniformly get the right to a trial, a defence, and due process before their liberty is permanently stripped from them.
If I accuse someone of a crime and want them to be sent to prison, then there are processes and protocols that must be rigorously adhered to, such as the production of evidence and then a trial, where the accused has the right to a defence, and to appeal.
Yet, if I want to accuse someone of potentially being "Covid positive" (which, although you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise, is not actually a crime) and have them put under house arrest, again and again and again, I need produce no evidence. There is no due process, and they have no right to any objection, defence or appeal. I can strip all liberty from anyone I like, any time I like, and be fully backed up by the state, all on the basis of nothing. I can (we all can) condemn someone, anyone at all, to society's worst fate - the forcible removal of liberty by the state (£10,000 penalty if you breach "self-isolation" rules) - for absolutely nothing, and there's not a single thing they can do about it. That means, the current reality is, convicted mass murderers serving life sentences in prison have more human rights than you or me; because they went through due process before being stripped of their liberty and forcibly detained by the state. We have not.
Let's just repeat that: we are all being subjected to society's worst punishment, without even the rights we extend to society's most depraved criminals. It is utterly inconceivable that that could be true in a 21st century liberal democracy. But it is.