Celia Green.com
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Monthly Column, June 2003

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Mythical tribal psychology as a basis for legislation

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, is said to be planning to introduce a scheme for cutting the sentence of criminals who apologise to their victims. This is described as 'restorative justice', and is said to have been pioneered by Maori tribes in New Zealand. We should all know by now how strong a drive there is revert to tribalism, but taking the Maoris as models is making it pretty explicit.

Apparently this is supposed to produce 'closure' in the victim's psychology, and make him feel better about it. So, as in so many other areas, fictitious tribal psychology is to become the basis for legal prescriptions. It is quite bad enough that it should be the basis for social judgements and persecution beyond the reach of the law, as it was throughout my education. My father, for example, could be interpreted as needing 'closure' for the conflicts of my education when he drove me out of house and home to 'earn a living' at the end of it, instead of supporting me in my plans to take a degree under my own auspices in order to seek readmission to a university career. Not that this was the only interpretation which was applied to his actions, nor was it particularly compatible with most of them, but it was one of the range of socially acceptable interpretations, none of which bore any relation to reality, except perhaps by their inversion of it.

The fact that the educational system is run on fictitious tribal psychology as applied by the tribal elders means that it is beyond the reach of a legal system which arose to protect the territorial rights of individuals. There should be concern at the lack of legal protection and redress for the underage victim, whose life can be so severely damaged.

Rewarding criminals for apologising to their victims is rewarding social dishonesty. It does the victim no good, apart from the mythical sense of 'closure' which he is supposed to obtain from it, and the wrongfully convicted person who is too honest to pretend to accept the tribal judgement against him is to be regarded as even more criminal and deserving of punishment.

Similarly, I have always been regarded and treated as a criminal because I never pretended to find acceptable or reasonable society's judgement of me as an appropriate person to be sent packing and exiled from a university career. The longer the period of time for which I have continued to maintain my position and to work for reinstatement in the academic world, the more explicit and obvious have become my relegation to the status of criminal and outcast.




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