So I felt quite sad that, at his age and with his record, he was hounded yesterday into a very 21st century PC apology.
What did he have to apologise for? He stated, publicly, that there are different degrees of crime - a concept which the learned judges have regard to every day when sentencing in the criminal courts. What is the difference between him saying in a radio interview that there are varying degrees of severity in offences of rape, and a judge explaining that he has based his sentencing decision on the very same principles?
We are familiar with sliding scales of 'badness' in non-sexual assaults, where the law actually defines different offences dependent upon the outcome. There is a possibility of such a framework being introduced for murder offences, like the American degrees. Indeed, if one considers homicide then we already have this distinction with the offences of manslaughter and murder. So if we are happy with the principle for the most serious of all offences, and for numerous lesser crimes, why should rape be any different?
Could the answer be that rape is still viewed as an offence victimising women only (which it isn't)? Is the knee-jerk, leftist, PC view that, therefore, we must somehow treat it differently? How indignant would yesterday's critics be if we decided that all assaults, or abuse, or criminal damage should be treated the same, and removed the rider that these offences can be 'racially aggravated'? The law ought, as far as is possible within our over-sophisticated, defendant-slanted system, be consistent.
Please don't get me wrong, rape is a very serious offence, whatever the circumstances. It ruins lives, degrades, humiliates and scars minds as well as bodies. That is why we treat it so seriously, why the maximum sentence is life imprisonment. But remember that word maximum; the sentences available to judges effectively encompass the entire range. The final disposal will always depend on other factors, peculiar to the offence and the offender. We are, I think, happy to let the judges apply the sentencing rules in these cases; why are we so agitated by their boss talking about them on the radio?