Thursday, 1 April 2010
Judges and victims (and a doctor)
I find myself all a-tremble: this morning, after an absence of some ten years, my name appears in The Irish News. Not, alas, as a columnist (they’d sooner pluck out their eyeballs and chew them than allow that) but as someone mentioned in a letter to the editor. One Joseph McBride - who sees the need to prefix his name with ‘Dr’ - has denounced me as adopting ‘an attitude of supercilious condescension’ towards victims of clerical abuse. That’s because I suggested on a UTV Live programme a week or so ago that victims are not the people best fitted to pronounce on guilt or innocence of alleged offenders, let alone declare a fitting sentence.
Well, Doc, maybe you were asleep or greasing the cat’s boil while the TV programme was on. My contention then and now is that objectivity, detachment are necessary for any rational judgement. If I were to accuse you of punching me on the nose and breaking it, would you be happy to see me also appear as a member of the jury? Or as judge in the case? To argue that victims of clerical abuse shouldn’t be involved in delivering a verdict or a sentence is so different from adopting an attitude of ‘supercilious condescension’ towards them, I'm baffled as to how or why my doctor friend has chosen to link the two. But maybe they didn’t teach basic logic at the medical school he attended.