By the deties there has been a huge lack of Clue going on this week. There have been a few things that have got my goat this week and the one at the top of the pile has incensed me so that not even hearing my favourite album (Rising by Rainbow) has settled my spirit.
What is it that has riled me so and come top of the Lack of Clue pile by some distance?
Judge Jacqueline Davies at Doncaster Crown Court is who has raised my ire. Her upholding of the verdict against Paul Chambers in what has become known as the #TwitterJokeTrial beggars belief in my sincerely held opinion.
Simply put, there is no word whether polite or profane, bluster or blasphemous which can adequately describe the unbelievable level of stupidity that Judge Davies’ verdict demonstrates. I may only be a layman and not have the elegance, persuasiveness and knowledge of legal people but I know something half-witted when I see it. And this verdict takes the Lamb Kebab for half-wittedness.
In one ill-considered swoop Judge Davies has, by ignoring the context in which the allegedly offensive tweet was made, determined that the use of humour, sarcasm and irony along with the expression of frustration, both online are now illegal.
That’s one hell of a big decision. A wise friend said to me that decisions have consequences. I’m sure that as a judge, Judge Davies is aware of this but has she really understood the full implications of her decision? Did she really give it the time and depth of thought such a decision deserves?
I can only hope that this case goes to appeal and the conviction, verdicts and judge’s comments are all struck out without exception. If you value freedom of speech then please donate to the appeal fund. High Court litigation is expensive but needed to right the wrongs of this immensely Clue-lacking decision.
A few years ago I remember reading a book by Jeremy Paxman in which he wrote about how difficult it was to get rid of judges, even ones who had quite clearly lost their marbles. I also remember Ben Elton doing a stand up routine about “Stupid Old Gits”, the gits concerned being judges who had perhaps lost their marbles and said some daft things in court.
Given Judge Davies’ verdict and the thoughts of Messrs Paxman and Elton I have to ask about the assessment of judges and their decisions. Is there any? Do the opinions of Paxman and Elton from years past still echo true today? Is Judge Davies the Daryl Harper (links 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) of the Judiciary? Has she a record of similar decisions? Who assesses or reviews the decisions they make? More importantly is that person actually gifted with common sense?
Of course, if whatever judiciary review panel there may or may not be is anything like the ICC then there isn’t an ounce of common sense in there to start with. I will leave it to those with more legal knowledge than I to confirm or deny the situation.
One thing this has motivated me to do is post this simple guide to telling your arse from your elbow. There are plenty of people out there whose lack of Clue is so immense that they cannot tell one from the other.
Now for you and me this may not be rocket science, a revelation or an earth shattering truth. But one thing recent events has reminded us is that lack of Clue gets everywhere. Just because someone sits in judgement does not mean they possess the big C. No, I don’t mean Carmenere, I mean Clue.
Matt Flaherty was at the appeal hearing and writes an excellent open letter to Judge Jacqueline Davies in which he exposes the various flaws in her thinking and questions her fitness for the bench.
I should of course state categorically that I intend no menace to the Judge even though I disagree wholeheartedly (and then some) with her verdict. I recommend that like Matt Flaherty, you write to the Crown Prosecution Service.
I’ll leave the final words here to Matt Flaherty because, like the rest of his post they hit the target with grace, elegance and Glenn McGrath-like accuracy:
Judge, you have failed to deliver justice in this case. I feel it is not too strong to say that you have brought shame and ridicule on your profession, and you deserve for this single case to define your entire career.
Amen to that.