Who’s the worst?

This post: circa 3,200 words, estimated reading time: 16 minutes

Who is the judge?

I’m not judging, here, but you are. You, with your high opinions, your biases, your stereotyping, your othering. What gives you the right to judge me!?

No, I’m not in a ‘funny mood‘, I’m not “going off on one.” It’s a pertinent question. Perhaps you judge me for simply using the word ‘pertinent’, with my airs an’ graces and posh vocabulary.

Here’s the thing – we don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.

We are born needy, but innocent. We have no language, no concept of right or wrong, but also no biases. A blank slate, albeit one with genetic predispositions. Then life happens. Class, race, culture, language, wealth, peers, gender, age, life experiences, TV and the media. They tell you how the world is. Layer by layer they mould you. Indoctrinate you. Brainwash you! It is called intersectionality, and it is perfectly normal, if somewhat twisted.

Intersectionality
“The interconnected nature of social categorisations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.”

If you were born to and raised by a wealthy Muslim family, you are very likely to have a worldview centric to that upbringing. Equally, if you were raised in poverty, in Eastern Europe, well, the world is not going to seem so friendly, but it’s still the world you know. The world is inconsistently constant. I see myself as a working-class northerner. Give me a peerage and a big castle and I will still be a working-class northerner, just one now worrying about the heating bill, and scallies robbing the lead from the west wing parapets.


Guilty as charged!

Who’s the judge? You are. You are judge, jury, and executioner.

Let’s bring the accused into court.

This is Mohammed.

Handcuff silhouette

Mohammed is a 17-year-old Pakistani Muslim.
He robbed a corner shop in Bradford, Jakubs’ Convenience Store.
Armed with a large carving knife, the accused menaced the young Polish assistant, Zofia, and made off with £100 from the till.
CCTV captured the crime. Mohammed was arrested at the scene by two passing Police officers, Smiths and Jones.
In his defence, Mohammed, an asylum seeker from a good family, fell in with a bad crowd and became addicted to crack cocaine.
Though his second language, Mohammed speaks English fluently and is very articulate.

 

This is Mikolaj

handcuffed man, white

Mikolaj is a 17-year-old Polish immigrant.
He robbed a deli shop in Leeds, Sangh o’Barms.
Armed with a clawed hammer, the accused menaced the old Hindi proprietor, Mr Sangh, and also made off with £100 from the till.
CCTV captured the crime. Mikolaj was arrested at the scene by two passing Police officers, Raja and Patel.
In his defence, Mikolaj, of no fixed abode, needed the money to help his ailing sibling, Zofia.
Mikolaj only speaks a little English, enough to be converse, but it can be a struggle. A translator is needed.

 

Who – in your opinion – is the most guilty?
In your capacity as a judge, you are allowed some leniency. One of these will go to juvenile detention, the other will be given a warning and be expected to do 25 hours of community service.

 

Both are guilty of robbery, with menace, leaving behind traumatised victims.
Both picked vulnerable targets in Yorkshire towns.
Both are immigrants.
Neither are native English speakers, though the difference in fluency is marked.
Both offer some mitigating circumstances.
Both, arguably, need help, in one form or another.
However, both might abscond, given the chance.

Which do you judge to be the worst criminal? Which of the two will you send to jail? And why?

Answers below in comments, s’il vous plait.


And you picked?

Burglar

The choice was easy for me, Mikolaj goes free. Absolutely no question. In terms of actions, both crimes are equal, but justice must be applied. So, why might you have chosen otherwise, and why am I right to have sent that Pakistani to jail, where he belongs?

Yes, it was rather contentious, and intentional, for effect, but that’s how the press plays you. You might want to bear that in mind, as we continue.

Here’s are some of the biases that might have swayed your choice.

Mohammed was a (previously) good Asian boy, arrested by two white policemen. If you or anyone you know has been the victim of racial abuse, you will be more sympathetic towards him. It may not change your verdict or final judgement, but it will sway it. Institutional racism is a sad fact of life.

Racism

What might surprise you, however, is this, allowing balance (i.e. per 10,000 incidents), a white person is twice as likely to be tasered by police in the UK as an Asian, but an African or Caribbean is three times as likely to be tasered as a white person. Or, if you look at another way, in terms of “a person of colour”, black people are six times more likely to be tasered than brown.

This was reported in 2015. “Lessons will be learned.” As they always are. You know how it goes. Well, seems the police learned how to be even more racially prejudiced. Not sure they understood the idea of the lesson!

BBC (2015): Black people ‘three times more likely’ to be Tasered
BBC (2020), Met Police ‘four times more likely’ to use force on black people

 

Perhaps instead you picked Mikolaj, because he was a European, like us, instead of an asylum seeker.

 

Hidden biases and assumptions

See what I did their? Read the line below again, you’ll get it. And it if doesn’t jump out at you, keep trying.

See what I did there? Read the line above again, you’ll get it. And it if doesn’t jump out at you, keep trying.

No, I didn’t just repeat myself, I made several points. While the majority of the visitors to Ackadia are obviously English speaking, it doesn’t mean they are English or even European, or that English is their first language. See, “he was a European, like us“. I just ‘othered’ the entire world. The inference is you are WEIRD, like me.
(This is a well known and significant academic bias).

The second one is harder. Some people would stumble over the second line. See it, “their”? There, their, they’re, its, it’s, its’. I would judge you for that. Not necessarily harshly, but there would be a certain amount of mental grinding of teeth.

This too can lead to bias and discrimination. I am exceptionally intelligent; it’s failing now but still high enough to make some people uncomfortable, to intimidate them. I am not obsessive over punctuation because I’m a pretentious arsehole, it’s just part of me, a personality disorder. Equally, I use a lot of big words, obscure words. I read dictionaries. I am intelligent, but I am not necessarily smart, and I am not cultured; if eating tuna pasta straight from the pan means washing one less plate, I am happy eating it out of the pan!

This takes me to another thing you almost certainly missed, unless you have the training, or are ‘wired wrong’ yourself. Words that “jump out at you“, thoughts that “grind their teeth“. I’m good at analogies, I work at them. Makes good reading, usually. Prose and all that. But it is not natural for me.

You will probably read that “See what I did there” line, maybe nod, and carry on, without a pause. I can’t do that. A lot of people on the autistic spectrum and other disorders can’t. My brain, even as I write it, argues back. “You know words cannot jump, right. That makes no sense. They are just graphical marks, an agreed combination of ink blobs and or shaped pixels we recognise as characters, forming words to convey messages. Spiders jump. Some are really good at jumping. Letters, words do not jump. There is no jumping. Unless it’s a mechanical word game, then maybe.”

I am currently firmly trying not to envisage teeth in my brain and failing. I can think up metaphors, but I still struggle with them in the same overthinking way. “Don’t throw the baby out with the water.” I vaguely understand the notion of that one, sometimes, but mostly my mind yells, “What? Why? Why would you do that? What is wrong with you?” It’s funny when you see something like that a light TV show like “Would I lie to you?“, but slightly more disturbing when you have to actively reason and mentally wrestle yourself over it. “It doesn’t mean that, it’s an expression, it means, well, it err, we can Google it later, OK.”
We can… Do you talk to yourself in the plural?
My son, in the same room, just muttered about “working his ass off” in a game. I sighed and stopped myself pointing out to him the improbability of it.

Even if you are not on the spectrum, colloquialisms and idioms flow naturally from us. Around here, asking someone if you “Want me to knock you up in the morning” is understood to mean you are offering to visit (e.g to go to work together). In other places, it might reward you a stern look, possibly even a slap across the face. C’est la vie!

 

There again, Mohammed was from a good family, a wealthy family. An important family, that’s why they needed asylum here. Because of his family’s political enemies, his life was torn apart. It’s not his fault, is it?

Triggered
Maybe though, there is another factor, a trigger. The weapon. What, in your past, might make a hammer more threatening than a knife? Or vice versa. We have a lot of unconscious biases, many we are not even aware of. Things that make us feel or react one way rather than another, for no apparent reason.

Mown down
Perhaps you were influenced in your choice by other factors. A story on the news, in the papers, a crime, making one appear or feel worse than the other. A white man mows down Asian Muslims outside a Mosque in London. A Muslim mows down white tourists on a bridge in London. Both were in the news in the recent past, but which do you remember most? Which got the most attention in the press? Which offended or unsettled you the most, made you feel unsafe? What does ‘mown down’ bring to your mind?


My house, my rules

I would argue, strongly argue, that Mikolaj goes free. Not because of any bias, but because it was the logical conclusion.

Mikolaj’s actions, though criminal, were altruistic. He didn’t want anything for himself, he wouldn’t really have hurt the old man, he was just desperate to help his sister. Handled correctly, social services could get involved. They both could be given sheltered accommodation. Jail would serve no purpose here. Jail is a deterrent, it would be the wrong solution.

Mohammed’s actions, equally criminal, were selfish. He needed a fix. He maybe didn’t want to hurt the young girl, but he was desperate and would if he had to. He wasn’t thinking rationally, this is true. Jail is not ideal for an addict, but there are options. Jail here could give him a chance to dry out, eased off the narcotics with methadone.


Who is the real criminal?

 

As the judge, you have a third case today. An important case. It could make or break your career. Or it could lead you places. Good places. But you have the choice. Two of these three criminals may go free, but the last serves the maximum jail time possible.

Who will you imprison now? Mikolaj? Mohammed? Or Sir Phil?

 


This is Sir Phil

 

Freedom

 

Sir Phil is a billionaire businessman, peer, a knight of the realm, a household name.
Armed with a spreadsheet, he allegedly robbed £100 million from the till.
Forensic accounting captured the crime.
In the office of his superyacht, Lionheart, moored off the coast of Morocco, Sir Phil was politely asked to attend a meeting by two senior officers from the Met.
In his defence, Sir Phil denies any wrongdoing. His team of lawyers concur.

 

White knight

 

This is just a white-collar crime, though still news. No weapons were involved, no one was hurt or threatened. No one was traumatised. I say no one, the ten thousand plus former employees facing a shortfall of half a billion quid from their pension funds might have a different opinion about that. Taxpayers might too, as we are expected to plug the shortfall. The government meanwhile is still asking him politely to give it back. To do the right thing. As if he had accidentally taken someone’s favourite pen from the office, rather than moving over £1.2 billion from the company and into their private account. Legally, somehow.

I say no-one was threatened, there was talk of a ‘climate of fear’ around Sir Philip Green, allegations of threats, stories of gagging orders, talk of people being paid to keep quiet. But all above board. All legal. Nothing to see here, move along now.

Media, of course, will influence your choice. As will the very expensive reports and tribunals, again at taxpayers expense. Still, though there are irregularities, loops and such infer Sir Phil did nothing wrong.


How will you choose now?

Who do you judge is more guilty, the desperate youths that each stole £100 from one person, or the greedy business who allegedly misappropriated hundreds of millions from thousands of innocent victims?

Which is greater, one million youths stealing £100 for a million different uses.

Or a billionaire taking the same amount and using it to replace his superyacht?

It’s only the one crime, doesn’t compare, does it.

If a million kids in the UK, or the US, or anywhere went on the rob, it would be chaos, complete anarchy. No one would be safe! The army would be mobilised. Strict curfews put in place. The media would be baying, howling for blood. All-day, every day, on every channel, the media and press vying for the most shocking, upsetting images. The less reputable would be paying kids to act up for them, so they can get a good shot.

Yet an obscenely wealthy, famous and titled hobnob does essentially the same and it’s a laissez-faire approach. (Or rather yet another! How many is it now, are we counting?) The ‘arrest’ is just an excuse for perhaps the chief of Scotland yard and his superintendent, plus a few of Fleet Street’s best to hop over to Morocco on a jolly. All best mates. Look at us on this posh boat.

The same can be applied to benefit fraud. A billion quid is lost to dodgy benefit claims, the press are all over that. Ten billion quid is lost to tax fiddles, offshore banking and clever accounting, etc., barely a peek out of the press. “Don’t want to draw attention to this, lads. We are all in this together right. Besides, it was all legal. Not like those council trash”. Tax avoidance is just corporate benefit fraud by another name. The fact they got away with it doesn’t make it right. The press barons don’t talk about this because they are part of the problem.


In real life

The first two are obviously fictional, but a fair composite of everyday blue-collar crime. The last is more or less real, allowing for artistic licence. However, the sums being bandied about are not just hundreds of millions. It’s over a billion, in fact. But, see, he mixes with the right people. With royalty even. He has the best lawyers. He didn’t use a knife to ‘rob’ people, he just moved money around. A lot, it seems.

This is life, and life is not fair, it is well-stacked against the common man. Against the proletariat. Against you.

If you rob a shop manager, two burly officers in blue will roughly bundle you into the Paddy wagon, drag you down to the cells. Later they’ll pull you up before the judge before sending you to do time. You are a menace, a risk to society. The people must be protected from you.

If some multi-billionaire “captain of industry” robs a shop manager, like as not two high-ranking officials will politely request their presence at a hearing in parliament. “Please, your grace. Sir. Just a formality, I’m sure, Sir. I’m sure it’s all a silly misunderstanding. You understand.”
*bowing and scraping ensures*

Secret whisper

You know in your heart he is guilty as sin, but he knows people. Powerful people, influential people. Do you ever wonder about the complexity of the law, of finance? About loopholes? Whether they were put there by accident, or not? It’s hardly a coincidence that the biggest accounting companies in the world influence such laws and are consultants for the likes of the Bank of England.

Given some of my opinions and observations, the next link, from The Guardian (2013) is rather ironic. Big four accountants use knowledge of Treasury to help rich avoid tax. There are plenty of similar news stories, such as the Financial Times (2019), Regulator calls for law change to end Big Four dominance of UK auditing.

How often have you heard a line like, “Legally speaking, he broke no laws.” That’s a posh way of saying, “We had him bang to rights, but the slippery bastard’s lawyers found a loophole”.

So most people shrug and carry on. What can you do, eh? If that scally from up the round had robbed your gran’s shop, well, different matter, it’s personal. But some rich guy stealing from a pension fund, that happens all the time, right?

Financial Times Adviser, December 2020, Arcadia collapse sees 10,000 pensions head to PPF

BBC, December 2020, Has Topshop boss Philip Green done anything wrong?

There may be no infringement of the law, but what attracts attention to Sir Philip’s case is that he and his wife have become immensely rich on Arcadia’s back.

In 2005 the company paid Lady Green a £1.2bn dividend, the foundation of the Green fortune”


Full disclosure

Sorry, nothing to tell. I have no personal reason to like or to dislike Sir Green, other than a strong impression from media that he is rather a greasy slime ball and a clever crook. The law says otherwise, who am I to argue.

Actually, I wrote most of this post in my head this morning, while washing the breakfast dishes. I was thinking about an exam essay I have to prepare on forensic psychology. The subject of the paper is intersectionality, regarding a (presumably fictitious) Pakistani drug user from Bradford, Yusuf. He is currently one year into his sentence for armed robbery and assault. Profiling him was easy, given the background vase notes.

If I’m honest, I’m procrastinating instead of studying, but this is how I learn. I speed-read the material, then I think, a lot. Sometime later, generally, when I realise the paper is due the next day, I’ll sit down and write that, instead of stuff like this.


On academic brainwashing

It should also be noted that I all but failed that exam, with a grade of only 54% for the paper – because my views do not fit the ‘woke’ narrative being pursued by academia. I don’t blame the lecturer, who is following rules, I blame the university, who are trying to ‘brainwash’ young and impressionable students. The lecturer wrote:

I have added some of my thoughts in response to yours in the body of this below.

In short, what I would be saying to you is to ‘play the game‘ for this module and just do what has been asked of you, nothing more! A former OU colleague of mine used to say to students in a half-joking, half-serious manner that at this level of study you are not required to have your own thoughts… these are not really needed until PhD level.

If this assignment had asked for independent thinking, to write your own title and argue for what you see as being the most helpful way to understand Yusuf, you would have scored far more highly.

Intersection relates to class, gender, age, race (etc), but has its origins in the oppression of black women by (wealthy) white American businesses. So, some forty years on, that is the only acceptable narrative (to some) and is completely at odds with what the origin paper actually presented.

Basically, it feels, I received a low grade because – in their narrative – the only acceptable answer, the only tolerable critique is one in which I describe how the poor (knife-wielding, drug-using) robber was a victim of endemic racism and white supremacy.
*wipes away a tear and pleads for mercy from the university, agreeing*
"If only Yusuf had been a rich white guy from London instead of a poor brown boy from the slums of Bradford, he’d have got off with a warning. It’s so unfair!"
Well, I called bullshit on that narrative!

In essence, if a titled and wealthy old BAME man is inappropriate with a poor, young, white girl, you do not talk about that, because it would be racist of you. That’s just their culture, don’t be ignorant. But if a titled and wealthy old white bloke is inappropriate with a poor, young, BAME girl… To me, to any right-minded person, both are equally wrong. You have to wonder why universities are trying to brainwash young and impressionable students thus.

Another paper was marked low for a similar reason – it questioned their flawed narrative. They asked for “critical thinking” and suggested, “there is no right or wrong answer”. Then, instead of suggesting the forensic psychology paper be “Mindfulness for prisoners: Argue for or against”, they took the stance that, “Mindfulness is the ONLY answer, use it to support this poor, upset white drug dealer”. They spent weeks going on about CBT, DBT, etc and then toss in a few pages for – and against – mindfulness in prison. But would accept a “critical argument” FOR mindfulness. Again, I call bullshit!

Needless to say, I told the university I am not “playing the game” and wrote the ‘right’ answer. The lecturer agreed with my assessment but only gave 56% because my answer didn’t fit the narrative. *shrugs*

In a private email, the lecturer agreed that it’s better to write what I felt was right than mindlessly obey instructions.

If you have to compromise your beliefs, your intellect, and your morals to pamper their woke delusions, you have to ask why you are bothering. It’s not worth the stress. It’s not that my understanding was flawed, nor my arguments invalid, it just wasn’t what they wanted to hear.


A word of being ‘woke’

If you are offended for the sake of being offended, you need to take a good long hard look at yourself.

If you are offended because you feel if you were that person, you’d be offended, so they should be, and as such you are offended on their behalf – and they are saying, WTF? – then you need a bloody good kick up the arse!

Perfect example – leftist commentators in the media are upset because BAME Conservatives like Priti Patel are ‘too white’.

Meanwhile, the BBC is making a global laughing stock of themselves! The BBC is facing backlash after their ‘diversity’ chief – Miranda Wayland – told a conference that Idris Elba’s character John Luther isn’t black enough..

Apparently, he wasn’t authentic as he didn’t eat food the executive considered appropriate.

Also, the black actor playing a black detective – whose character was a loner – didn’t have the ‘right’ friends to meet her approval. Y’know, friends of the right colour.

To be truly diverse and appease the woke left you have to stay in the box they put you in! How racist of them!

e.g. Yahoo news: ‘Luther’ creator responds to BBC diversity chief claims Idris Elba show ‘not Black enough to be real’


Other essays

See Intersectionality and criminality.

Related: Forensic psychology and mindfulness


Bonus material

Bonus point to you if you worked out the origin of the deli, Sangh o’Barm. Took me few minutes and I wrote the pun!

Sang is from sanguis (the Latin for blood), but also mean to sing, of barms in this case.
Sangh is an Indian word meaning workgroup, or collective. People with a shared interest.
o’Barm, is more of an Irish twist, Ó meaning descendant of, son of, so O’Connor is of the Connor line.
Barm is barm cake, obviously, but also pronounced ‘bam’ as it ‘bampot’, which is Scottish slang for a fool.

So, perhaps, we can agree that the play on words is to Sing about Barm cakes (Or Sing about bampots if you’re Billy Connolly)

All good answers, all wrong. Sangh o’Barm was a mispronunciation of Saint Gobain, a French glass and textiles company.


Line art courtroom feature image is by Gordon Johnson, from Pixabay

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: