A post that's a bit late... but spurred by lzz
s comments on raffle tickets.
A long time ago (well, months, that's a long time in the scale of this summer) a rapist won the lottery, and evil David Blunkett decided that this was a Bad Thing, and that he shouldn't have the money. Whether or not evil David Blunkett or the evil Rapist won I don't know. That's not really the point.
The point is, my gut feeling is actually quite similar to David Blunketts*. It doesn't seem *fair* that someone who does something so bad** should be able to live their life out in luxury, without even having to work for it, or show any sign of repentance*** when there are so many more deserving people / charities / things in the world. But the whole point of the lottery is that it's random. You don't have to be hardworking, of good moral character and have a clean driving license to play the lottery. In fact, if we only let "nice" people play the lottery I think it would loose a lot of its players.**** Most people who are attracted to the lottery are going to be the type who arn't obsessive savers, hard workers, they're going to be the gambleing type who are attracted to the idea of a hope of something for nothing...
So my gut feeling turns out under close inspection to be "The Lottery is Not Fair". I mean, it's a set of random numbers, they're not out to redistribute money in a way that will better the world. Even if you were to limit players to people who meet a minimum standard of "niceness"***** the money is very unlikely to go to the nicest people who need it most. And it will never go to people who have done anything to earn it.****** So every person who stood up and said "how dare the lottery give money to this evil rapist" should really be saying "how dare we allocate such significant amounts of money randomly" and campaign for the Lottery to be closed down.
The flip side of all this is that the lottery makes a lot of money for charity. A bit of me would like to say "well, it doesn't do our immortal souls or our moral developement any good just to give money to charity for our own gain, and people as a whole would be better if they gave money to charity because they wanted the charity to have money, not because they wanted millions of pounds for themselves". But people are crap and wouldn't, and then lots of good charities******* would be far worse off. Maybe we need a charity tax, where you have to give say a pound a week to charity if you're earning, but can decide which charity it goes to. Forcing people to be charitable seems wrong, but it's the usual responce to people being mean and selfish - we force them to pay for the NHS and stuff because we know they wouldn't voluntarilly give a third of their income to support these things.
Enough wibbling, back to work. I promise the usual wibblings about what I actually do with my life will resume shortly.
*I'm ashamed of this, I kind of hoped I'd never agree with the man on anything.
** OK, I have no idea of the specific ins and outs of the case. But I think we can assume for the sake of my arguement that this is a Nasty Man Who Has Done A Bad Thing. Doesn't really matter what.
*** M and I often have very interesting debates on how much of the prison system in this country is to actually help people and how much of it is about vengence. I have shifted position a lot in the time I've known him, becoming far more fluffy and christian and liberal on the whole thing. I think we still differ on that I think that you should punish people who have done bad stuff to a certain extent, so that even stupid (or very unempathic) people can see the "don't do that else bad stuff will happen to you" lesson. In which case prison has to be a Not Nice Place. M seems to think prision being a Not Nice Place is all about us getting revenge on prisioners, not about wanting to prevent them reoffending. And we disagree on whether if something is an effective example to others it is a fair or unfair punishment on the guy being the example. Anyway, I digress.
**** Ok, this is *gross* class stereotyping. But may be true.
***** You can imagine the ticky boxes on the lottery ticket now:
Are you a rapist y/n
Are you a terrorist y/n
Are you drawing benifits y/n
Do you think David Blunkett is a not very nice man y/n...
****** M argues that most money is like that, and you don't have to proove that you're a particularly nice person to get a large inheritance either. But you normally have to be not-so-evil-a-person that you get completely disowened by your family in favour of a cats home. Not sure if rapists ever get large inheritances.
******* and very stupid millenium projects
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 03:53 am (UTC)|| |
He's said he's going to spend the winnings on a villa in Thailand, presumably so he can go and rape young Thai girls. Possibly this will be sufficient to block him being released on parole. We can hope.
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 03:57 am (UTC)|| |
I think people would be less incensed if prisoners were not allowed to play the lottery; it was the whole "you've won the lottery, but we don't like you so we're going to take all the money away" thing that was being complained at.
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 04:07 am (UTC)|| |
Yes, but if you say "prisoners can't play the lottery" where do you draw the line? Is he allowed to play the lottery and win as soon as he's out of prison? Is this in any way less bad than him winning all that money when he's in there? What about people who are generally bad and undeserving, but haven't been caught doing anything so tangible that they get sent to prison? Once you start on "foo can't play the lottery" who is actually deserving enough of millions of pounds that they should be able to? And why don't we just give it to them instead of messing around with balls?
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 04:10 am (UTC)|| |
Why should prisoners who are allowed to leave the prison on day trips be allowed to play the lottery, and not those who aren't? There's already an arbitrary boundrary there caused by circumstance...
I believe he was on day release when he bought the ticket and yes, naturally it would be wrong to improse restrictions on him once he has served his sentence, however prisoners on parole or day release are already under a series of restrictions, adding: "You are not allowed to gamble" would be a fairly simple addition. I just can't think of a way to justify it. Let the man have his winnings and let it be a lesson that natural justice isn't found in 6 out of 49 balls.
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 06:28 am (UTC)|| |
Absolutely. He has been found guilty of a serious crime, and he has been sentenced for that crime. He has therefore paid what the courts consider to be his debt to society. Of course, if what Aldabra has said is true, then this presents a danger to others, and the police need to keep an eye on that. Until then, he has as much right to enjoy his winnings as anyone else. Whether he deserves that right is beside the point.
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 08:32 am (UTC)|| |
Quite. Any attempt to deprive him of his winnings would, necessarily, involve retroactive legislation, which is always A Bad Thing(TM). I believe that already prisoners on day release are not allowed to stake money on sporting events and the like at bookmakers; given that this is the case I can't see why lottery tickets should be all that different.
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 04:38 am (UTC)|| |
What about people who are generally bad and undeserving
As I think was one of your original points, there is no way one can "deserve" a Lottery win. They just happen, randomly.
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 05:37 am (UTC)|| |
Oh, but you can deserve a million pounds or not. That seemed to be peoples main arguement, that he didn't "deserve" it because he was an evil rapist. The fact that the lottery doesn't in any way factor in "deservingness" in how it distributes the money doesn't mean some are more deserving than others.
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 11:52 am (UTC)|| |
Oh, but you can deserve a million pounds or not
Challenge. How does one deserve a million?
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 03:59 am (UTC)|| |
The flip side of all this is that the lottery makes a lot of money for charity
Not as much as it claims it does. I've got a dual position on this one, in fact - I've been fortunate to recive Lottery money for one of my community groups (yay, Lottery!) but I also know, as a member of several charity and campaign groups, that public donations to all charities went down becase people believed that buying a Lottery ticket was The Same Thing, and charities did not in fact receive similar levels of donation from the Lottery as they had previously done from teh public. (And now fewer people play the Lottery too). So, boo Lottery for that one.
or show any sign of repentance
As you footnote, there's a whole bunch of discussion that surrounds the issue of prison and reform, but I shall just fluffily and liberally and idealistically point out that, unless and until he shows signs of repentance, they won't let him out. And he'll have to get out to enjoy his money (er, whether its in Thailand or not).
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 04:08 am (UTC)|| |
Surely if he serves his sentance he'll get out? I have no ideas of the details of the case, and I'm sure it must be sort of different for Really Bad Things like rape and murder, but I was under the impression that if you got a ten year sentance for doing something and served your ten years they *had* to let you go?
Rape could be a life sentence, where you can be release 'on licence' after a certain minimum but only under certain conditions.
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 04:37 am (UTC)|| |
Technically, the judge recommends a sentence, and the parole board decide if you're fit to be released. In many cases, with good behaviour (and appropriate signs of remorse), this is before the maximum term of the sentence. In some cases (Myra Hindley's is one), the offender is left in custody beyond the original term of the sentence, at the Home Secretary's discretion.
Remorse is a big part of parole, and this is one of the tragic things about people who have been wrongly imprisoned - they can't show remorse for something they didn't do, so they're left in prison longer. And not compensated afterwards.
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 06:14 am (UTC)|| |
Argh, too many footnotes.
If someone is engaging in crime because of poverty it seems rather backwards to prohibit otherwise legal means of getting them out of poverty. Obviously this isn't true of rapists and murderers tho so that argument doesn't apply there, but it does suggest a place where one might choose to draw a line, if inclined to draw lines in the first place.
I think (in the current arrangement) the fact that the lottery makes money for charity is not very relevant - it's a commercial operation that happens to be required to give a certain amount of money to charity; in effect it is just taxed. If the Branson(?) scheme of giving everything bar costs and winnings to charity had been adopted then I think the charity argument might be a better one.
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 11:55 am (UTC)|| |
Obviously this isn't true of rapists and murderers
You can murder for money!
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 12:12 pm (UTC)|| |
And I suppose one could rape for money too, for that matter. I suppose I'll trust any line-drawers to draw their lines on the basis of more than just economic motive, then.
I totally agree with everything you said!
(Bloody hell though, how many footnotes do you want to use.....hehe!)
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 09:02 am (UTC)|| |
ISTR there was a suggestion that the rapist might get sued by the victims, now that he has some money. I've done a quick google for it, and yes, I do recall correctly, but I haven't seen any further news saying whether this was likely to actually happen or not.
|Date:||September 21st, 2004 11:54 am (UTC)|| |
I thought civil complaints (and thereby compensation) were only brought in cases where criminal cases had failed.
This reminds me of something I heard recently about a former convict who was being rewarded for a good act he had committed. I can't remember the nature of the good act or the reward, but the good act was quite substattial. In any case, there was some public debate about whether a former criminal (I think he'd been an armed robber) should be granted such a reward.
My own view was that expecially a former criminal should be rewarded for a substantial good act. The upside of viewing prison as punishment is that we should be content that someone who has completed a prison term has been punished enough. Quite apart from this, if our attitude to criminals is that, no matter how heroic their acts of goodness, we will not reward them because they have transgressed, then why the hell should they reform?
Totally off the point, of course.
Incidentally, why do some women assert rape as the worst possible event for any woman? I'm not belittling the magnitude of rape, of course, but surely some events, like murder, could be perceived as worse? I can imagine that there are women who'd rather be murdered than raped, of course, but equally, I can imagine there are women who'd rather be raped than murdered (personally, I fall into this category, although obviously I refer to forcible buggery and so forth). I bring this up simply because nobody complains that Leslie Grantham, who was convicted for murder, is allowed to roam free on the streets of Albert Square and reap substantial rewards thereby (as a random example).
May that to do with that society's perception of rapist is "once a rapist always a rapist" so permanent danger to women as long as he's alive regardless of his other acts. Like a paedophile (who apparently can never help it) that should be locked away from society with children?
That's more or less what I suspected, but this is probably one of those issues where the liberal conscience hits an oscillating or undefined state.