Saturday, November 20, 2010

Canard Défoncé

I love the story of  the French farmer who, when nicked for posession of 5kg of wacky-backy, basically claimed it was for personal use - just him and his ducks. Excellent for worming them he says. Probably means they don't have problems with cataracts as well. You would hope they don't get the symptoms of bad short-term memory loss and paranoia - although I would pay good money to see an absent-minded paranoid duck.

Haven't seen a lot of marijuana possession charges in court recently - I suspect the police are taking care of this particular business, rather than it having gone out of fashion.

It all takes me back to my interview to become a magistrate - I was asked to rank the following offences in order of seriousness and give my reasoning :-

(a) assault police officer (one punch in the face while being arrested)
(b) domestic violence (some bruising)
(c) driving without tax and insurance
(d) shoplifting (frozen chicken)
(e) driving recklessly near a school
(f) student possessing a single cannabis joint

Try it yourself and then try answering the question "So you chose (x) as the least serious - why don't you think it's a serious matter ?"

I'll not tell you my ordering, but I did put (d) last. I can understand why someone would put (f) last. But to me, someone who support the illegal drugs industry is much more dangerous than someone desperate enough to steal a frozen chicken.

And guess which category of villain most often ends up getting a custodial sentence ?


The Defence Brief said...

I'd rank them:
b. domestic violence;
a. assault PC;
e. driving recklessly near a school;
c. no insurance;
d. shoplifting; and
f. cannabis.

I put the domestic above assault PC because domestic violence rarely happens in isolation and it is an offence that often results in the vitim and the family living in constant fear of a violent partner.

The reckless driving is, I think obvious.

No insurance I put higher than shoplifting because if you seriously injure somebody that person may find it harder to obtain the financial support they find themselves needing, for example if they require constant care etc.

I place shoplifting above cannabis because the shoplifting has a consequence to society that is obvious to the offender, i.e. everybody pays more because of his actions. The funding of terrorism and drug cartels and the damage they cause is not so obvious to a young student and thus I assessed the level of his culpability to be lower and thus I judged the offence to be less serious.

If this were a higher value theft or theft in different circumstances it would change position. Equally, if the cannabis was somebody closer to the source of the production then it would increase its position.

Conor said...

"someone who support the illegal drugs industry "
I'm sure they would prefer to buy drugs legally from the local pharmacy. It's the government that has decided otherwise.
Don't get me wrong. I've never even smoked, and am against drugs. But there is a massive demand for then, so there will always be someone prepared to fulfil that demand.

Stan said...

The Defence Brief : not a million miles away from my ordering - the top three and the bottom three are obviously in different leagues.

Odd that the student would in reality get a police caution, and the poultry larcenist would get dragged into court (with options up to custody) for what many would consider to be a crime of similar magnitude.

Conor : That's why I use the phrase "illegal drugs industry". My problem isn't with drugs per se - it's with the law-breaking. I have a rather simple-minded view that we shouldn't consider some laws to be optional.

Fortunately this view fits well with the job I've volunteered for, which is uphold the letter of the law.

Conor said...

I don't see why the law should concern itself, if someone chooses to take a chemical substance if they harm only himself.
If the government made alcohol illegal, I'd make my own without seeing myself as doing wrong. So I can't see drug takers as criminals either.

Jennie said...

But they don't harm only themselves if they decide to take the family car for a joy ride while stoned and run your aged mother down in the process do they?

Stan said...

Conor : Suggest you run for parliament and become a Home Office minister. Otherwise I'm afraid you're stuck with the laws as they stand, idiotic though a fair (and growing) number of them are.

Jennie : agreed. There are other victims - in the same way that video piracy funds organised crime and terrorism, so does the drug industry. Even "cuddly" drugs like cannabis rarely come from a nice hippy who grows them organically in his allotment. Takes a supply chain of seriously bad men and women to fill that Rizla.