16 November 2009

#PaulClarke: It is Reasonable to be Outraged

There has been an outpouring of anger over Paul Clarke's guilty verdict (background). There has also been an equal and opposite outpouring of calls to calm down. The Calm camp argue that the Angry camp don't yet know all the facts; their anger is over a single news report; there are lots of unanswered questions, and we don't know what the sentence will be yet. (I hope that is a fair summary.)

The Calm don't seem to dispute that, on the face of it, Clarke's reported actions should not be a crime. But I don't get why this isn't enough to cross the threshold. Everything we know about the case suggests there has been a travesty of justice. The Angry aren't ignoring inconvenient facts. No-one has yet come up with a reason why this isn't an injustice, therefore the emotions of the Angry are justified.

As additional information comes to light, yes, all should reassess what has happened. If it turns out that all was not as it first seemed, and Clarke had indeed been up to no good, then yes the Angry should retract their outrage, and they needn't be ashamed of doing so.

With regards to the issue of sentencing: even if the sentence is minimal, suspended even, the man still has a criminal conviction to his name. A lengthy prison sentence would only make a bad situation even worse.

The anger is also useful. Without a public reaction, the media would be much less likely to provide us to continue coverage of the story, and provide us with the further detail we all want.

Finally, if you are Calm, I ask you this: at what point will you decide there is enough information to decide either way?

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