Point made

So an Australian protester JUMPS INTO THE THAMES, delaying a BOAT RACE, in order to protest inequality and elitism in the UK…

…and they jail him for six months. Jail. The most serious punishment in their system (and ours). What we do to murderers and those committing violent assaults and people for whom other options have been shown not to work. And not just a short sharp sentence to make the point. Six months. Shove a political protester in with violent criminals. Why consider other sentencing options like community work or fines? When you can just rocket up the sentencing scale and do what you can to brutalise the bloke for, remember, jumping in the Thames and slightly delaying a boat race.

Why would the community want the guy’s sentence to be something that puts back to the community, like community work, when instead taxpayers can pay the huge amount of money it costs to jail a person for six months?

By the way, if you were looking to make the guy’s point that the British system is massively skewed in favour of the interests of the rich and against ordinary people – you probably couldn’t have made it more clearly. Congratulations.

PS If he has a history and they’ve tried other options before, then that should have been in the bloody report. From the barrister’s remarks quoted in the Independent article, it sounds like he had no priors.

22 responses to “Point made

  1. Oh, be serious: He’s not going to “shove[d] … in with violent criminals”. He’d be placed, one imagines, in one of Britain’s low- to barely-secure prisons with all the ticket-dodgers and tax-avoiders. It’ll be like the Big Brother house, but with better company.

    And, wherever he is shoved, it’s unlikely to be for six months: The judge ordered he serve “at least three”. Do you think bankrupt Britain will keep him longer than they need?


    And yes, good point: The sentence is a better expression of his point than his silly exhibition on the river. What does the idiot disruption of a boat race have to do with income inequality?

    The athletes concerned are the best, drawn from the smartest — not wealthiest — of Britain. Both Oxford and Cambridge are public institutions.

    He could have been hurt. He could have been killed. Whatever the bank balance of the athletes, that’s a shitty way to spoil their day. They don’t run the system. They row boats.

  2. “He’d be placed, one imagines…”

    Uh huh. So… on what basis do you claim that the UK has special prisons exclusively for non-violent offenders?

  3. Jeremy, why did you think the traffic offenders got chucked in with the gang-bangers and rapists?

    Of course Britain has different categories of prison and, within each prison, different degrees of security and surveillance.

    I’m thinking Rosa Parks (or whatever his name is) will be stuck in one of the Category C or D prisons described:


    Category D sounds better than community service, even: Prisoners can be granted leave to get work or go home. Not as many chavs, either.

  4. Oh, please. Violent offenders DO get housed in “category D”. Have you seriously bought the line that prison is somehow cushy? “Better than community service, even”. Mad.

    If only there were a way for those who talk this crap about how “easy” prison is to actually experience it for themselves so their words weren’t completely hollow.

  5. narcoticmusing

    While I doubt he will be placed in a maximum security prison (which – it the structure is similar to Australia) is generally reserved for long sentences (eg 10 years +) it is completely erroneous to consider that he wouldn’t be housed with people with either a) similar sentences (yes you can get just a few months for violent actions) or b) similar amounts of there sentences left (but were originally imprisoned for much more serious crimes).

    The categories of prison are to enable prisoners to re-integrate with society. Category D would be such an example for people nearing the end of a long stay.

    It is also completely erroneous to suggest that ANY imprisonment is ‘easy’. You just have completely no idea what you are talking about if you consider this and demonstrates that you have clearly not attempted to look at these institutions beyond “wikipedia”. Try visiting one, they are not fun.

    Furthermore, the time spent already in custody prior to sentencing would have been an assessment prison – were you do quite literally just get thrown in with everyone.

    Ergo – prison is a MASSIVE response to a person exercising what many would consider freedom of political expression. While I agree with some of what the judge said (to the effect that all people should be free to not have such undue interference and prejudice is not a grounds for interference) I also agree with Jeremy that this was an entirely disproportionate response. We see shock jocks cause far more harm (eg inciting violence) with almost no response (tapered by catcalls of free speech) while someone who is not wealthy or does not have politicians on their program is jailed for a similar (and lessor) sin.

  6. No, I haven’t “bought the line” that prisons are a kind of holiday camp for naughty boys.

    Nor have I bought the line that Trenton Oldfield is about to live an episode of “Oz”.

    He’s not going to be “brutalise[d]” beyond repair. He’s going to waste three or four months locked in a dull room, in a dull jail, plotting his next demonstration — maybe at a bike race.

    We don’t know if he’ll be sent to Category D, but if he is then “most of the inmates are [likely to be] white collar criminals,” as “there are no murderers … , nor any sex offenders,” according to this account of one Category D prison:


    But if there are any violent offenders, they’ll be those that “prison staff think they can trust … to be in an open prison” — i.e. those that behave well enough with their inmates to be trusted in the outside world.

    You seem to have bought the line that every idiot who’s charged with slapping a drunk at the pub is a monster who might “brutalise” society’s water-borne moral crusaders.

    (Quoting: http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/PIB%20extract%20-%20Prison%20life.pdf, p. 52)

    Prison’s shit. But thank god for it, in this case: Oldfield’s sentence makes his point far better than some glorified streaking in a wet-suit.

    Wasn’t that the point, in the first place?

  7. narcoticmusing

    Soren, I don’t think you get it. Prisons ARE necessary. That is not the dispute here.

    Prison is supposed to be our highest form of punishment. It is the very last point, the maximum we have. Hence, it was a disproportionate response to what was at most, an inconvenience. Consider also the proportion of this vis-a-vis crimes that actually have direct victims. Eg rape and other serious assaults are often given less than a year in prison or even no prison. If they can warrent no prison, surely this does? Noting that the reason these offences warrented no prison was not because the crime was not serious, but because there is more to sentencing than merely retribution.

    As for using the telegraph as a source to back up that a prison is ‘easy’ that is about as ignorant as one can get. We have similar articles here about caviar being fed to prisoners when the reality is that no single meal can exceed a value of $1. Furthermore, your conclusion is false.

    But if there are any violent offenders, they’ll be those that “prison staff think they can trust … to be in an open prison” — i.e. those that behave well enough with their inmates to be trusted in the outside world.
    No, the i.e. should be those that have so little of there sentence left it would be stupid to sabotage it with an escape attempt. Ie. ALL long term sentences stagger their way down the security ratings in order to slowly acclimatise prisoners to the real world again.

    Futhermore, do you think that given this was an inconvenience (which occurs with all protests mind you) prison was the best use of public funds?

    Lastly, have you EVER been to a prison? I’m pretty sure that no one in the Telegraph has. Go to a few prisons and you tell me it would be awesome to be there against your wil.

  8. No, I haven’t “bought the line” that prisons are a kind of holiday camp for naughty boys.

    and yet two posts earlier Soren claimed: “It’ll be like the Big Brother house, but with better company.”

    Not so much a holiday camp then – more of a televised entertainment compound.

  9. narcoticmusing

    Perhaps we should recoup the money poured into our prisons by setting up a big brother house type thing – but then, we’d have to be accountable for the treatment of prisoners and it would be all too transparent.

  10. Narcoticmusing, you’re basically right. (That latest post was, by the way, posted before your first went up; it wasn’t a response, if that’s what it seemed.)

    What I was responding to in the original post was this vision of Oldfield being thrown to dungeon and “brutalised” by the killers, the rapists, the robbers of society.

    I thought this all a bit grandiose.

    Do I think prison fit for this task? Probably not. Is the going to be sent to the same prison as the offenders Jeremy describes? Probably not and, if he is, not for long.

    Have I ever been to a prison? Yes, in fact, but not as an inmate. (It was for a subject in the senior years of high school; we talked to the inmates at Barwon prison; they said it was shit.)

    Few other little things you mentioned:
    – As for the assessment prison, I doubt he’d have been held for remand.
    – It was an inconvenience. It could have been much worse than an inconvenience (hence a penalty of some kind).
    – It could not, however, have been any better than an inconvenience — that was another thing that struck me. I thought the demonstration then, as now, a dick-ish non sequitur : What possibly could such a footnote of a demonstration, aiming at some row boats of near no relation to the target, lacking any sign of purpose beyond an after-statement, could have done? He may as well have thrown himself in the river.

    Mondo, that there’s a joke.

  11. “Dick-ish” is probably a bit much, in fact; “boor-ish”, maybe.

  12. Any potential streakers at the Cricket this Summer, take note!

  13. alfred venison

    someone did something this, here or somewhere else in england, a year or two ago, too, if i remember correctly. maybe the authorities are trying to discourage this form of protest, at this time of the year, from becoming an “annual event”, a perennial push back, an elite aquatic sport’s “occupy” wade in. as it were. -a.v.

  14. Of course Soren – when you started off this thread by arguing that minimum security jails aren’t so bad you were just joking.

  15. Mondo, the point was this: He’s not being sent to that prison from American History X; he’s not going to be “brutalised”; and no, minimum security prisons aren’t as bad as those prisons Jeremy described.

    There was a degree of silly dramatization in the original post which I responded to with, yes, a joke about the company in prison being better, at least, than that in the Big Brother house.

    I must admit I don’t quite know what you’re finding so hard.

  16. What I’m finding hard, Soren, is understanding how someone with no experience or special knowledge of incarceration can so glibly dismiss a prison sentence.

    Sure, this protester may not be brutalised while in prison – but then again he might be. He might be beaten or raped. You don’t know, Jeremy doesn’t know and I don’t know. That’s the nature of prison – it’s an incredibly dangerous and distressing place, and should thus be reserved as a punishment of last resort.

    You may think you were being funny to dismiss minimum security prisons as equivalent to the Big Brother house (and, to a certain audience, you probably were being funny) but the truth is that the attitude you are adopting here is intellectually offensive to me.

    The whole “it’s only a minimum security jail so not really a big deal” meme is, in my view, a profoundly dangerous trend.

  17. narcoticmusing

    The whole “it’s only a minimum security jail so not really a big deal” meme is, in my view, a profoundly dangerous trend.
    That’s pretty much the gist of my concern, well said Mondo

    Every time I have to attend a prison (fortunately never as an inmate) I find it profoundly disturbing experience. This is particularly the case for people who are young with strong prospects of rehabilitation (ie being a constructive member of society). It really destroys people’s souls, it does not teach them to not do it again. It just crushes them and gives them a record to boot that ensures their lives will never be the same. Is that really even a remotely proportionate response? it reminds me of the atrocious state of our child porn laws that can land a teenager on the sex offenders register (because there is no discretion). Injustice is injustice. It is not about fairness, it is about harm.

    One of the law’s primary principle is that the idea of “love they neighbour” is,translated as “do not harm thy neighbour” – this sentence harmed.

  18. Splatterbottom

    “the attitude you are adopting here is intellectually offensive to me.”

    Get used to this style of argument Søren. This is a parallel universe where power and prestige are heaped upon the most easily offended. Note Mondo’s tactic here – If you don’t belong to a designated victim class you can still be “intellectually offended”.

    In this country we are lucky to have a vast number of publicly-funded grievance-mongers who present a veritable smorgasboard of issues to be offended about. Even if you are a white middle class male you can still go through life in a permanent state of high dungeon*, which is apparently the preferred mode of existence these days. Of course you are allowed some moments of enjoyment which essentially consist of basking in your moral superiority, baring your bleeding heart for all to see and looking down your nose at unenlightened deviants who dare to think for themselves, ignoring the toxic fumes of political correctness belched forth by the chattering class.

    * “High dungeon” will be added to the Macquarie Dictionary just as soon as the editorial committee can get their warm wet tongues out of the PM’s glorious arse.

  19. Mhm. I think the likelihood of any such brutalisation was overstated, but on reflection I think you may have a point, Mondo. Certainly, in this case, it seems prison was an inappropriate sanction.

  20. Funny comment SB.

    If my being offended at a proposition put by another poster is, in itself, offensive to you then doesn’t that mean that you can now be described as a “publicly funded grievance-monger”?

    Or is it only you that is allowed to be outraged by what other people say?

  21. Soren – sometimes it’s hard to know whether a new poster here is trolling or engaging in genuine debate. Even if they do appear to be genuine it’s often difficult to resist the temptation to dig in behind a position and defend it to the death.

    I am guilty of both of these errors – and probably more regularly than I’d care to admit.

    Anyway thanks for your thoughtful response. You’re probably right that the likelihood of brutalisation occurring is low – but nonetheless I still think Lefty was mostly right to describe the sentence as “an attempt to brutalise the bloke”.

  22. Splatterbottom

    It was meant to be funny, Mondo and not personal to you. I think you are a victim of modern usage.

    Whereas once people may have said that a particular statement is “false”, “illogical”, “extreme” or, more colourfully, “a steaming stream of excrement dribbling from the corners of your shit-eating grin” now they declare the statement to be intellectually offensive to them. This turns the focus to the speaker who now casts him or herself in the role of offended victim.

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