If – or more accurately – when the British government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is passed, you could end up going to prison for ten years for defacing a statue of Winston Churchill. The reason for this brutally severe punishment – because of the “emotional harm caused”!

For years, right-thinking elites have set themselves up as being somehow different from the old authoritarians on the right, the hang ‘em and flog ‘em brigade, who are all about crime and punishment. At the same time however, through their moral sense of being the caring class, they have increasingly elevated the idea that we need to protect people from emotional harm.

However, as we can see from the example from the Tory government above, the use of the idea of emotional harm, or abuse, can be stretched and pulled in all sorts of alternative, authoritarian directions.

The caring class may feel they are doing society and “social justice” a service by elevating the issue of emotional abuse for those with “protected characteristics”, but why stop there? Clearly, anyone and everyone can feel emotional pain, trauma, or abuse for any number of things. Why not protect us all from emotional harm?

Picking up on this issue, Labour’s Naz Shah spoke to the House of Commons and questioned why a similar level of punishment is not extended to protect Muslims who are offended by images of Muhammed? Indeed, why not?

If we accept the logic of protecting people from emotional harm, depending on who is elected and what values they want to proscribe, almost anything could result in severe prison sentences for those who blaspheme against the emotionally correct diktat of the time.

As the Crime Bill makes its way through parliament, in Scotland, judges and sheriffs have been ordered to consider the psychological damage suffered by victims when handing out sentences.

Formalising what arguably already occurs, these rules elevate the feelings of the victims through the use of victim statements, where “harm is interpreted broadly”, and includes psychological harm, “even if unintended”.

Both our “caring” new elites and the hang ‘em and flog ‘em brigade celebrate this victim-focused form of justice and appear not to care that they are constructing a quasi-medieval form of punishment.

A key aspect of modern and enlightened justice was that it overcame the arbitrary and vengeful nature of punishment. Now, thanks to things like victim statements, the emotional, subjective, and very different ways we experience a crime are brought into the proceedings.

The exact same crime could result in a terrible victim statement from a vengeful individual or from someone who experiences the crime in a traumatising way. In comparison, a forgiving person or someone who is little affected by the same crime may write a sympathetic statement. Consequently, the punishment no longer fits the crime, but fits the emotional or vengeful nature of the victim.

Dragging emotion into what should be a rational and objective system of justice also has wider and arguably more damaging implications for society.

It risks making punishment more severe, based on whatever emotional, or victim hierarchy society constructs. But worse still, it helps to further socialise society and change our culture into one where we, and especially the young, are educated to understand ourselves through the language of trauma, making us less able to cope with unpleasant experiences.

Following the logic of our emotionally incontinent times, perhaps the Tories should cut out the graffiti middleman, and simply arrest anyone who dares to call Churchill a racist.

After all, I’m sure, given our victim culture and our training in emotional harm we can find at least one chronically thin-skinned individual who is “traumatised” by this heinous act. Ten years should do it!

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