Appropriate language is not misjudged
Ask anyone who has ever owned a Rover or enjoys A Question of Sport how they think Britain could be improved, the response '˜being tougher on crime' would be a popular one.
The perception by some that we live in a post apocalyptic, lawless society may be at odds with the facts - crime has long been on the decline and our prisons are as full as they ever have been - but that doesn’t stop a huge chunk of the population worrying themselves daft about it.
Yes, hundreds of thousands of crimes are recorded each month still but it could be worse, it could be the 1970s.
Letters pages in newspapers, not to mention the comment sections of their websites are full of shrill folk imploring politicians, police chiefs and our judges to take a tougher stance against criminals. So last week the news that a Crown Court judge had played a foul mouthed yob at his own game, and used language which would make a Scottish sailor blush, before sending him down was universally applauded right? Or so you would have thought.
The moment Judge Patricia Lynch uttered the most offensive swear word in response to a horrible racist who had already slung that particular four letter insult in her direction it was clear that this would be a national talking point.
And to prove she really wouldn’t be cowed, Judge Lynch returned defendant John Hennigan’s unpleasant suggestion what she could do to herself with bells on.
One can only imagine the reaction in that courtroom and especially that of the journalists present as it would have seemed like all their Christmases and birthdays had come at once, such was the extraordinary nature of the exchange between judge and foul individual before her.
It not only led to the 64-year-old judge becoming something of a media sensation, both here and around the world, but also left her facing an official investigation into her own conduct after the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office received a number of complaints.
Naturally, officials at the JCIO are remaining tight lipped about their investigation and have even refused to say how many complaints have been made so it is unclear what the motives are that lie behind them.
There are a small but vocal number of keyboard warriors who believe that the language used by Judge Lynch was unbecoming of someone who is paid handsomely to uphold both the law and the standards set by the Crown. Yes, judges are duty bound to live by standards which are higher than most of the rest of ours but that doesn’t mean that they cease to be human beings.
Gone are the days when court clerks had to tell dusty, out-of-touch lawmen who Pele or Gazza were because, thankfully, we now have a judiciary which is beginning to reflect the society we live in. By responding to Hennigan in the only way that he knows, before giving him an 18 month sentence following his conviction for racially abusing a mum and the ninth breach of an ASBO, she made it clear that he wouldn’t have the final word.
Morons like him don’t understand complicated English and the judge recognised this and, I suspect, she probably enjoyed putting him in his place before ordering that he be taken away.
This is what being tough on crime looks like and if you are offended by it then that’s your problem.