In a land like ours, which is small and everything done by anyone is known to everyone in quicker time than it takes to say “Which hat shall I wear?”, I find it quite strange and dotty the way certain people in the public spotlight act and react and talk.
What’s he on about I hear the editor and the readers shout in exasperation? Most of our politicians are lawyers or at least that is my impression. The leader of the Labour Party isn’t but he is very nicely aided and abetted by two erstwhile deputy leaders who are. So in their spare time all these lawyers obviously have to ply their trade to earn their keep, otherwise their plush livelihood could be threatened. That would be the last thing I would ever wish to see inflicted on our good lawyers with a political bent.
I’m also never sure if these lawyers remember that what they say in court to defend nefarious or petty criminals can and does reflect what they, the lawyers, think and feel about life in general. I can assure you I have an argument brewing here in my mind that will soon be let out of my long-winded bag.
A prominent lawyer who is also very involved in politics had a strange case to defend. This lawyer is the opposition party’s spokesman for justice and, therefore, technically, could be in the running for the justice portfolio if the PL is voted into power in the next election. The strange case involved a Turk, in his 30s, who was in love with a 16-year-old girl who subsequently dumped him. Said Turk turned from lover to obsessive stalker and sent the young girl threatening text messages. The girl’s mother was rightly bothered and took action by reporting all to the police who, subsequently, took the appropriate action and arraigned the Turk. The mother and daughter were both ready to forgive the Turk for having had sex with an immature, underage girl. The mother was quoted as saying that as long as the Turk mended his ways and stopped threatening and harassing her daughter all would be fine and forgotten.
I have nothing but praise for all concerned as our forgiving nature shines in the mother’s and daughter’s stance. No talk of racism coloured the mother’s reasoning: she never said how terrible Turks and Muslims were. Thank God for these mercies in our land, which seems to beget bigoted racists at an alarming rate.
Where does our potential future Minister of Justice come in? He, as I said above, was the defence lawyer for the Turk. Nothing wrong there, I hear all lawyers cry out in unison. Someone has to defend the man and, of course, I agree.
Donning his hat of defending lawyer the possible future Minister of Justice said things I would find hilarious if they weren’t utterly disturbing. This lawyer said he has fought for the age of consent to be lowered from 18 to 16. Again nothing wrong there at all; he is certainly allowed any and all views. And in an age where 16-year-olds seem undeniably advanced and mature I think he surely has a point. The learned gentleman, however, did not stop there.
“The police,” he is quoted as saying, “would have hundreds of arraignments a month on their hands if they had to charge all teenagers caught having sex in public places.”
So just because it’s rampant it shouldn’t be stopped? Is this how he will act when he dons his ministerial hat?
If there is just one crime happening in town would the police be expected to go out and stop it but can lie back and enjoy the scene if there are a number of crimes? Is this the way he will run the ministry or expect the police to act?
The idea the police must not waste their time on petty stuff is fine and acceptable. The minister-to-be could also scream that, for all he cares, all women and girls, up to whatever age he wishes the age of consent to be, can have wanton sex. But his way of saying the police should not act to stop any crime because it happens often misses the whole point of crime detection and avoidance.
I know it is a terrible comparison but right now the Mexican authorities have so many murders happening in their country the police are rightly losing hope of solving or stopping them. But I hope the Mexican Minister of Justice hasn’t thought of taking a feather out of our lawyer/politician’s cap and asking his staff to stop bothering because so many murders are happening they can’t keep up with them.
I shake and quake when I hear or read similar accounts of what learned men and women say without thinking of the consequences. I’m sure the Turk was given a lesser sentence after the lawyer’s eloquent defence. And good luck to the Turk. But it would be a tough sentence on the inhabitants of Malta if this lawyer becomes Minister of Justice and practises what he is preaching in court.
This article first appeared in The Times on January 29 2011