Independent judiciary is the cornerstone of English polity, and has been for centuries. Technically speaking, it’s still independent, but of what exactly?
It’s true that a government official can’t easily tell a judge what sentence would be appropriate in a case. Nor is it likely that a judge would be told to favour either the prosecution or the defence.
However, as I suggested yesterday, our judges aren’t independent of a Zeitgeist that communicates with them in imperative ways.
One way is a direct, politically motivated diktat from the EU, whence 80 percent of our new laws come. Another is an equally political pressure applied by the legislature, which is not always driven by the purest of motives.
But perhaps the greatest weight of pressure comes from modern inversions of traditional certitudes. These may not undermine the institutional independence of our judiciary, but they certainly compromise its independence of thought.
Yesterday is a case in point. Last May two Muslim fanatics (who incidentally were raised as Christians by their Nigerian parents) hacked the Fusilier Lee Rigby to death, having first run him down with a car.
If you need a clinching argument for reinstating the death penalty, this is it. But even to suggest this is tantamount to branding oneself as a reactionary fossil who himself would be a prime candidate for the gallows, should that option become available.
For the first 1,965 years since the Incarnation, the inhabitants of these Isles never regarded the death penalty as a cruel and unusual punishment. It was understood that murder sent destructive waves throughout the community, and their amplitude could only be attenuated by just punishment commensurate with the crime.
Moreover, society believed that the death of the body wasn’t as catastrophic as perdition, the death of the soul. In this belief society followed the teaching of another famous, now largely forgotten, reactionary: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul…”
Before going to the block, a murderer was given a chance to repent, ask God for forgiveness and die with the hope that his soul would be saved – even though his body was no longer welcome to tread the earth.
It took the abandonment of Christ for mankind to grasp the true meaning of Christian morality. Since we now know that there’s no God, no soul and no afterlife, depriving the vilest of murderers of his earthly existence has become unthinkable: nothing is worse than physical death to modern barbarians.
They call it progress; I’d call it something else if decorum didn’t prohibit swearing in print. Be that as it may, these particular murderers were punished to the full limit of the law. One of them was given a whole-life tariff, the other will serve a minimum of 45 years.
So far so good, even though the European Court of Human Rights takes a dim view of life meaning life and it’s seldom bashful in letting its displeasure be known.
But then Mr Justice Sweeney had his say, explaining the verdict. He accused the defendants of betraying… their humanity? elementary decency? Judaeo-Christian morality on which our laws are based? their country?
Not at all. The evil murder constituted, according to the judge, “a betrayal of Islam and of the peaceful Muslim communities.”
One of the murderers screamed, “It is not a betrayal of Islam, you don’t know anything about Islam!” And you know what? He was right and the judge was wrong.
The other defendant reinforced his friend’s statement by shouting, “I swear by Allah: Britain, America will never have any safety!” Now that’s more like it. This is really in keeping with both the spirit and letter of Islam, of which Justice Sweeney is so woefully ignorant. To wit:
“Slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out… if they attack you there, then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers.”
“Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you.”
“Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.”
“Those who believe do battle for the cause of Allah; and those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols. So fight the minions of devil.”
There are 107 verses in the Koran unequivocally calling for the murder of infidels and apostates, plus another 41 preaching holy war and world conquest. True enough, there are also some other verses preaching peace.
But almost all those came early in the book, before Mohammed moved to Medina and hardened his position. According to Islamic law the later sanguinary verses ‘abrogate’ the earlier ones, invalidating them in case of a conflict.
Thus scriptural support for the judge’s assertion of the peaceful nature of Islam looks rather shaky, not to say nonexistent. Moreover, the blood-soaked history of the last 1,400 years shows that Muslims practise what Mohammed preached – you don’t need me to give you a list of clashes between Christendom and the Islamic world.
Why, 90 percent of armed conflicts currently under way anywhere in the world, from Indonesia and India to Africa and the Middle East, involve Islam. A betrayal of Islam, Your Honour? More likely faithfulness to it.
If queried, Justice Sweeney will probably admit he knows all this. After all, few people can advance to the bench without possessing some basic education. And yet he felt called upon to utter that nonsensical statement.
By the same token, few people can advance to the bench without possessing political skills. Prime among them is a weathervane’s sensitivity to which way the wind is blowing – and the current direction is strictly towards multi-culti political correctness.
All religions are equally good, which is to say equally irrelevant. Since some of them are manifestly religions of peace, they all have to be. Saying some aren’t may mean causing offence to a minority, and this is the worst crime there is.
In this instance, public pressure was such that his sensitive nose didn’t prevent Justice Sweeney from imposing the best available verdict. In a less publicised case, the result could be different – in many instances results already are different, with murderers getting derisory slaps on the wrist.
Which brings back the original question. Just how independent is our judiciary?