Daily Mail writer hails Brit execution in China


3:28 pm - December 29th 2009

by Sunny Hundal    


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Leo McKinstry in the Daily Mail gnashes his teeth at liberals:

His case has prompted outrage in this country from politicians and from the trendy metropolitan elite, for whom drug use is a fashionable habit rather than serious criminal offence. Yet for all this orchestrated wailing, is it not possible that China is right to put Shaikh to death?

Indeed, I would argue that Britain’s enfeebled, self-destructive approach to narcotics has been graphically highlighted by China’s ruthlessness in tackling drug pushers. In contrast to New Labour’s policy of appeasement and surrender, the Chinese Government acts vigorously to defend its people from the misery caused by the drugs trade.

In China, the death penalty can be invoked against anyone carrying more than 50g of drugs – and that is one obvious reason why China, proportionally, has nothing like the drugs problem that we have in Britain.

Actually, the evidence points to nothing of the sort: China Says Drug War is Failing / Chinese Junk.

There is currently a campaign on Twitter to ‘polljack’ the Daily Mail poll on that page. Over 60% of readers said they though the execution of Akmal Shaikh was wrong.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


One less drug mule can only be of help in the war to stop these parasites.

Speaking as someone with a past career in psychiatry, I note that he was 53. A person with bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia would never reach the age of 53 without clinical intervention and would almost certainly have been hospitalised at least once. He would certainly have been on some course of medication, but there is apparently no record of medical intervention at all. He is said to have had hare-brained business ideas and unrealistic ideas about becoming a pop-star. But such people appear regularly on Dragons’ Den and the X-Factor. These are not necessarily evidence of mental illness. One can, of course, sympathise with his family for positing mental illness, but I’m afraid the reality is that the mental health problems card is frequently played as a mitigating factor in all sorts of contexts, legal and otherwise, nowadays, and without some evidential basis for these claims, it is difficult to believe that they were any more than pure clutching at straws.

So the Daily Mail is not pro life after all?

But of course that is only the fetus that must be saved. Once you are born, fuck you! Bit like the Catholic Church.

4. Chris Baldwin

Leo McKinstry is an apologist for murder.

Dear Sir,
While it is sad that any person should be judicially executed the fact is that the penalty for drug smuggling in China is death.One assumes that if you plan to take the risk of carrying drugs into China you know the possible punishment.
Another issue is the fact that the drug charge was brought two years ago.Surely the Govt.could have been more active earlier ?
Having said that it would be a very foolish person who now thinks its ok to enter China with drugs.
Maybe harsher penalties here in Britain would stem the tide of drugs on our streets?I suspect however our liberal politicians would not go for the hard line in case the poor old criminals human rights would be violated.

#5

Agreed, but as long as we’re using the death penalty for social engineering purposes, can we have it for failing to reach production targets and criticising the Party, too?

7. Dick the Prick

Doesn’t China back Burma whose major export is err…smack? Fair play though – 4 keys of smack is hardly a mistake. Never been a fan of this execution shit – horrid thing but bugger all to do with me I guess.

There are a number of arguments against prohibitionist fervour:

1. “Punish them all, but not if they’re my friends.”
2. Drugs are less harmful than prohibition.
3. Not letting the State control your bloodstream is a positive virtue.
4-infinity…

Peter Hitchens is insufferable on this subject, always repeating the same one argument. The only thing worse would be to offer no arguments at all.

Your viewpoint please, Sunny.

Doubtless, the Mail is motivated by the huge benefits to the public finances from restoring the death penalty and the prospect of even bigger tax cuts.

After all, it costs the public finances an average of more than £40,000 a year to keep someone in a secure prison. The death penalty works out very much cheaper, which probably explains its popularity as a judicial punishment in earlier centuries:

“Some thirty-five thousand people were condemned to death in England and Wales between 1770 and 1830, and seven thousand were ultimately executed, the majority convicted of crimes such as burglary, horse theft, or forgery. Mostly poor trades people, these terrified men and women would suffer excruciating death before large and excited crowds.”
From the publisher’s blurb for: VAC Gatrell: The Hanging Tree – Execution and the English People 1770-1868 (Oxford UP, 1996)

Our forbears were wiser than is often supposed. When hanging was the regular judicial punishment after conviction for a wide range of crimes, they came to appreciate that this generated a system of perverse incentives – hence the old adage: Might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.

There was also the challenging question of an appropriate disincentive to deter truly heinous crimes such as threatening the life of the sovereign or plotting treason against the state. In such circumstances, the death penalty was no longer enough. A little extra something was needed, as with: Hanging, drawing and quartering.

As a concession for consideration of public decency when executions were a form of popular public entertainment, women were burned at the stake instead but sensibilities otherwise inhibit me from posting the further gruesome details:
http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/hdq.html

My favourite story about executions comes from the engaging entry for: Tyburn – a principal site for London executions located close to where Marble Arch now stands – in that truly wonderful resource: Weinreb and Hibbert (eds): The London Encyclopaedia (1993):

In 1447 five men had already been hanged, cut down while still alive and stripped naked ready for quartering when their Royal pardon arrived by messenger. But the hangman refused to return their clothes – a perk of his job sanctioned by custom and practice – so the five were obliged to walk home naked. At least the hangman wasn’t going to be called a scab. Viva trade unionism.

“In 1447 five men had already been hanged, cut down while still alive and stripped naked ready for quartering when their Royal pardon arrived by messenger. But the hangman refused to return their clothes – a perk of his job sanctioned by custom and practice – so the five were obliged to walk home naked. At least the hangman wasn’t going to be called a scab. Viva trade unionism.”

Was it winter? Summer wouldn’t be so bad.

9 ‘the huge benefits to the public finances from restoring the death penalty’
The reverse side of that argument (can’t be tested though), is that juries are probably more likely to acquit if they are aware that the person is likely to be executed. Even with DNA evidence, it only proves the person was there, not that they actually committed the crime.

“The reverse side of that argument (can’t be tested though), is that juries are probably more likely to acquit if they are aware that the person is likely to be executed.”

By reports from historians, that is what increasingly tended to happen. In due course a government got the message and perhaps realised that by imposing the death penalty for a wide range of crimes regardless, including minor theft, the effect was to create a perverse incentive to perpetrate more and greater crimes since the penalty on conviction was always the same. When that insight dawned, the number of capital offences was drastically reduced by stages. My personal grip on the history of capital punishment is admittedly wobbly and this extract from Wikipedia the best I can come up with for now:

“The death penalty was mandatory (although it was frequently commuted by the government) until the Judgement of Death Act 1823 gave judges the power to commute the death penalty except treason and murder. The Punishment of Death, etc. Act 1832 reduced the number of capital crimes by two-thirds. Gibbeting was abolished in 1832 and hanging in chains was abolished in 1834. In 1861, several acts of Parliament (24 & 25 Vict; c. 94 to c. 100) further reduced the number of civilian capital crimes to five: murder, treason, espionage, arson in royal dockyards, and piracy with violence; there were other offences under military law. The death penalty remained mandatory for treason and murder unless commuted.

“The Royal Commission on Capital Punishment 1864-1866 concluded (with dissenting Commissioners) that there was not a case for abolition but recommended an end to public executions. This proposal was included in the Capital Punishment (Amendment) Act 1868. From then executions in Great Britain were carried out in prison. The practice of beheading and quartering executed traitors stopped in 1870.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_the_United_Kingdom

I’ve noticed from radio interviews and discussion programmes in recent years, that suggestions for reintroducing the death penalty are usually brushed away by remarking on the large number of miscarriages of justice where innocent people have been wrongly convicted of murder.
http://www.innocent.org.uk/

Try this extraordinary series of TV docs by Michael Portillo on the science of executions – not for the faint hearted:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woBUtoh02ic


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Andy1120

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  3. Jonathan McCalmont

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  4. Penny Thomas

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  5. Simon Taylor

    RT @Tom_Christian: RT @libcon Daily Mail writer celebrates execution in China http://bit.ly/6XBuc7

  6. Paul Benson

    RT @libcon: :: Daily Mail writer celebrates execution in China http://bit.ly/6XBuc7

  7. Marcia Bowie

    RT @libcon: :: Daily Mail writer celebrates execution in China http://bit.ly/6XBuc7

  8. Jonathan Foster

    I take it you've seen the mail's view of it? http://bit.ly/6XBuc7 RT@BevaniteEllie: Absolutely disgusted at the execution of Akmal Shaihk.

  9. Liberal Conspiracy

    :: Daily Mail writer celebrates execution in China http://bit.ly/6XBuc7

  10. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by SFDiplomat: RT @libcon: :: Daily Mail writer celebrates execution in China http://bit.ly/6XBuc7





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