Not Saussure

December 23, 2006


Filed under: Blogroll, press — notsaussure @ 3:23 am

Via Gracchi, who himself does a thoughtful demolition job on the vile hack, a magnificent fisking by Obsolete of the vile Richard Littlejohn’s comments on the Ipswich murders, such as

It might not be fashionable, or even acceptable in some quarters, to say so, but in their chosen field of “work’, death by strangulation is an occupational hazard.

That doesn’t make it justifiable homicide, but in the scheme of things the deaths of these five women is no great loss.

Given that Littlejohn doesn’t look set

to discover a cure for cancer or embark on missionary work in Darfur

any time soon, either, and he must surely provoke an overwhelming desire to throttle him in many people other than me….

Excellent remarks on the same subject from the Umpire, and Rochenko offers a most pleasing Christmas vignette.

Update:  Mr Eugenides rather hopes that  Littlejohn is in the habit of namechecking himself on Google  and will want to read about why  Richard Littlejohn is a Fantastic Columnist

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  1. Sorry to disagree with you – yet again – but RL simply tells the hard truth. The ‘soppies’ of this world might pretend otherwise but the fact is that the deaths of those women mean absolutley nothing to anyone who never knew them. To pretend otherwise is to indulge the modern predilection for lachrymose sentimentality with which the death of “the People’s Princess” is irrevocably linked. To say that does not imply *in any way* that they *deserved* to die, but in the same way that racing drivers, rock climbers and soldiers take on a known risk that they will die on the job, so did these women – and no pun was intended.

    Comment by David Duff — December 23, 2006 @ 9:48 am

  2. By the same token, the death of the murdered lawyer Tom ap Rhys Pryce, to whom you referred in our recent discussion, didn’t mean very much to anyone who didn’t know him, either, but I don’t recall many complaints when people outside his immediate circle expressed concern over his death or its circumstances. Again, by the same token, you could argue that those who use public transport in London take a known risk — admittedly a small one — that they will be murdered en route; but that, to my mind, is no argument for not being concerned about the safety of tube passengers, be it from robbers, lunatics or suicide bombers.

    The fact that soldiering is an inherently risky occupation — and one normally entered into, I think, more readily than prostitution — clearly does not provide the government with any excuses for making it more risky than it need be by placing soldiers at unnecessary risk, be it though misguided policies or poor management of equipment.

    Similarly, the fact that prostitution is also an inherently risky occupation doesn’t mean we can ignore the way that government policy makes it more dangerous than it need be, nor that government policy on drugs certainly causes people to take up prostitution who wouldn’t otherwise so do.

    Richard Littlejohn’s argument that

    At any time, one or all of them could have sought help from the police, or the church, or a charity, or a government agency specifically established to deal with heroin addicts. They chose not to

    is simple-minded. Doubtless they could, though the availability of treatment for heroin addicts varies from area to area. However, it is a very difficult condition to treat, not least because so much of the addict’s life revolves round his or her addiction — if you’re a heroin addict, then pretty much everything revolves round raising the money to score, finding your dealer, avoiding people to whom you owe money, getting high — and so do the lives of almost all your friends. And, as with any any addiction, your judgement’s addled by the drug in any case, so, all in all, getting it together to seek help is a lot easier said than done.

    I work in the criminal justice system and, while I have very little sympathy with the steady stream of drug-addicted burglars, street robbers and serial shoplifters with whom the courts have to deal, I can recognise that they’re not living the life they do out of choice. They’ve made bad choices in the past, certainly, but these have landed them in a predicament from which it’s very hard to escape.

    It’s all very well for ivory-tower newspaper columnists to come out with their theories about choice and so forth, but in the real world we have to deal with people as they are rather than as we’d like them to be. For whatever reason, people do become addicted to drugs and, while we certainly need to try to help them off drugs, we also need to try to make their lives more dangerous than necessary when they attempt to raise the money to fund their habit in considerably less anti-social ways than many of the alternatives.

    You talk of risky occupations; so, too, are driving mini-cabs and keeping open late-night convenience stores known to be risky occupations, to the extent that it’s considered an aggravating factor when people come to be sentenced for robbing them. If some lunatic murdered five shopkeepers or taxi-drivers in quick succession, people would be outraged; I doubt, however, Richard Littlejohn would have been similarly dismissive of such a reaction.

    Comment by notsaussure — December 23, 2006 @ 11:21 am

  3. Indeed, by Littlejohn’s logic we should be regarding the death of PC Sharon Beshenivsky as an “occupational hazard”. She knew the dangers of becoming a police officer, why should we feel sorry for her or her family?

    Thanks for the link ns.

    Comment by . — December 23, 2006 @ 2:22 pm

  4. Well, the long list of occupations that carry with them a risk simply re-enforces my point that *undue* wailing and gnashing of teeth, whilst providing the wailer with a subtle sense of ‘I’m more sensitive than thou’, does nothing to help solve the underlying problem.

    For example, apparently, everyone and his uncle in Ipswich knew of this red light district and yet no-one, including the police and social services did anything to stamp it out. Instead, a goodly (dare one say ‘Godly’?) liberal attitude of ‘live and let die’ was adopted, and indeed, they did die! I leave it to your imagination to picture the howls of outrage had, six months ago, the police mounted a concerted campaign to drive these people off the streets, assuming, of course, that they could find *anyone* who “work[s] in the criminal justice system” who would actually jail them.

    For “Ipswich” of course, read any town in Britain.

    Comment by David Duff — December 23, 2006 @ 4:07 pm

  5. There certainly would be howls of protest, and quite right, too; if they’re just standing there and not pestering passers-by, they’re not breaking the law, so the police have no powers ‘to drive these people off the streets’.

    That’s also why you’d have difficulty finding anyone who works in the criminal justice system actually prepared to jail them — we don’t mind locking people up, but there are a few legal formalities with which we first have to deal, like finding an imprisonable offence for which to convict them.

    The only way I know to jail someone for prostitution is completely to misuse ASBOs; it’s been done in the past, but various Court of Appeal decisions about when the law says ASBOs can lawfully be issued have pretty much put a stop to it.

    Comment by notsaussure — December 23, 2006 @ 4:43 pm

  6. My point proved! So that those, like the ineffable ‘Rachel from Planet Zog’, who insist that prostitution should be legalised are indeed as purblind as I thought because it already is, in effect. However, it was news to me that drug dealing on the street and kerb crawling were also above the law. And of course, the very idea of a police officer using his wit and intelligence by deploying a beat officer *with a camera* on a constant basis which would have dried up the custom in a week, is beyond one’s wildest dreams and expectations.

    Still, now that you have dried your tears over the five murdered prostitutes who meant so much to you, perhaps *you* could come up with an idea. I won’t hold my breath!

    Comment by David Duff — December 23, 2006 @ 5:49 pm

  7. The present legal status of prostitution, at least for the women we’re discussing, is a nonsense; it’s legal, but only so long as they work the streets (dangerous) or from a flat on their own (even more dangerous). If they set up in a flat together, they’re breaking the law.

    Kerb crawling. Not particularly easy to prove. The police do have blitzes on areas, certainly, and normally in response to complaints by residents; but all that really succeeds in doing is moving the business from one area to another. It’s also a drain on police resources — there’s only a limited number of police, after all, and they do have many, frequently more urgent, calls on their time.

    Quite what on-street drug-dealing has to do with all this, I do not know; are you suggesting that street prostitutes combine their business with dealing drugs? Not normally, I think.

    You asked me for a solution; as always, I don’t think there is any one solution. I discussed this in a post on
    Prostitution and Drugs recently, but, briefly, we could solve a great many problems (not just to do with prostitution) by distributing heroin (possibly bought up in Afghanistan) to addicts on the NHS. Easily half of all Crown Court work is in some way drugs related — mostly dealing with burglars and street robbers rather than users and dealers. Not all of them are heroin addicts, obviously, but certainly most of them are.

    Quite what you do about crack and meth addicts, I don’t know — they’re a far less tractable problem — but at least dealing with the opiate addicts would be a start.

    As to prostitution, various schemes have been floated, notably ‘tolerance zones’ and legalising small brothels. Neither are without their problems, certainly, but both would, I think, tend to make it a safer business for all concerned.

    At the moment, you’ve got very vulnerable people working in a legal grey-area with every encouragement to keep out of sight of the police. This state of affairs just makes their situation more dangerous than it need be. And talk about how they’ve brought it on themselves doesn’t really help; mini-cab drivers and late-night shop keepers have chosen dangerous occupations, too, by providing a service for which there’s a demand. We try to use the law to help make their lives less hazardous rather than tell them they should look for a different line of work. To my mind, we should take the same attitude towards prostitutes.

    Comment by notsaussure — December 23, 2006 @ 7:42 pm

  8. Is it politically correct to say that should David Duff or Richard Littlejohn be murdered over the Saturnalia festivities, I wont give a shit and promise not to weep for them or send flowers.

    Comment by Alec — December 23, 2006 @ 8:20 pm

  9. Happy Xmas notsaussure and thanks for the link. I too hope Littlejohn googles to find out how many bloggers despise him, but suspect that, like most hacks, he doesn’t read anything other than his own columns

    Comment by Political umpire — December 28, 2006 @ 10:29 pm

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