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THE LOWDOWN: All in . . . the price of peace

Richard Hoad

THE LOWDOWN: All in . . . the price of peace

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Why are we killing here? For material gain? Because we got out of the wrong side of bed? Because we are motivated by personal greed? – Angela Cropper, Trinidad.
Grandson Dominic Benjamin is fast learning what is acceptable and what isn’t. More importantly, he’s learning whom he can bamboozle and whom he can’t.
His mum, Auntie Kris and Grannie are the big bad wolves. Granddad is a pushover.  
At 18 months, Dom even knows the dogs. He can lie on Gabby the Lab and cuddle. Pull Sprank the salmon tot retriever around by his tail. But he doesn’t pass close to Larry.
If ever he steps on her, there will be no mercy. It’s called zero tolerance. It works.
Angela Cropper died last Monday at 66 after a life full of tragedy. She was out of Trinidad when her husband, mother and sister were brutally tied up and hacked to death by a gang of murderers. Still she opposed the death penalty, figuring it only made matters worse.
I believe Angela Cropper was wrong. We are not only killing here because of material gain, the wrong side of the bed, or personal greed. We, or rather, they who are killing, are doing so because they know they’re unlikely to hang for it. The more the clemency, the more the murders.
No one, no matter how enraged, touches a red-hot iron bar or a high voltage wire. Swift capital punishment can be an equally effective deterrent to would-be killers.
Last Monday’s DAILY?NATION Editorial The Violence Must Never Take Root is way too late. It has already taken root and is flourishing, well watered and cared for by the lawyers who rush  to defend criminals, those judges who go soft on them, the appeal courts minded to discharge on technicalities, the laws with loopholes, the jokers who claim hard labour in prison is “slavery”, the second-chancers who want to get them back in society . . . .
Already, shootings are taking place in this country without the police even being notified. Already most sensible citizens aren’t willing  to give evidence. Already old people put up their shutters at sunset and pray for morning. And why?
Short answer: our justice system is failing us. And as the message spreads that “crime does pay”, things can only get worse.
It is amazing that after all these years of Independence, letter writer Hamish McClurg and columnist Carl Moore should pay tribute to motorcycle cop Golbourne Cyrus and Magistrate Lennox Perry, who single-handedly cleaned up Barbados’ traffic offenders. How come we haven’t been able to produce legal officials of similar resolve to tackle violence?
Every time a gun-toting murderer gets off with some years in prison, we can expect a few dozen youngsters to think nothing of shooting someone. No longer does any murderer have to fear the gallows. Either then we continue to live in fear like some of our neighbours, or we send a strong, unequivocal message that violence will not be tolerated.
In 2002 Parliament passed a severe firearms amendment to declare zero tolerance on illegal guns. Our very Director of Public Prosecutions allegedly “lambasted” the legislature for so doing. (We in the firing line can only hope he supports our laws  on capital punishment.)
Jail holds no terror. We need to go back to deterrents that worked in order to go forward.
The Romans had officers called “lictors” who went around with magistrates and dispensed summary justice with their bundle of rods. Of course, we can’t countenance beating wrongdoers in this modern age, but how about putting them “on line”?
The youngsters headed for trouble are known in every district. They need to be sorted out without court trial, purty lawyers or name and picture in the papers. Why not get lictors armed with electric fence units to put wayward youths “on line”? Jolt them back to the straight  and narrow.
Peace on all fronts comes at a price. Ask General David Petraeus. He even got peace from his biographer, a Broadwell dame, and advanced instruction on using his weapon.
By the way, following the release of the Petraeus book All In, my biographer Watta Bigwell is coming out with the Lowdown story. Check Only A Litle Bit In – The Education Of A Lowdown Dick.  
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.