I base these posts on Fandango’s Who Won the Week posts, and I use the opportunity just to look at my own newsfeeds.
This one is more relevant to UK readers, but it might be of interest to all of you. Do you remember during all the Black Lives Matter protests? There were protests here, too, and some statues were toppled.
My longtime readers might remember this because I posted at the time. My view was (and still is) that the statues should be left in place, as a reminder. Much as our generation might like to sweep all of humankind’s nastiness under the carpet, pretend it never happened, I don’t think we have the right to erase history.
One such statue was in Bristol. A guy called Colston. He was a major benefactor to the city, which erected a statue in his honour. The problem is that Colston was a slave trader, which offends our 21st century morals. (His time was around 1700, when slavery was condoned.)
So during a Black Lives Matter demo in June 2020, this bronze statue was torn down and dumped in Bristol Harbour.
That was not the end of the matter, though. The UK (the state) identified four of the people involved in the incident, and brought charges of criminal damage against them. That in itself raises question marks. Maybe that should have been the topic of my post? That however “right” these people might have been in the public’s eye, the state still sought to convict them of a crime?
Anyway, the reason this story is in the news again is that their trial concluded last week. In response to a charge of criminal damage, the four argued that the presence of the statue was, in itself, a hate crime, and that as such, they had every right to tear it down.
And, they convinced the jury. That their actions had been justified. So, they walked away, free.
This, for me, is where it gets interesting. About nine months ago, there was also a case where Extinction Rebellion protesters damaged Shell’s head office in the UK, and successfully argued that the damage had been justified. I posted on that here.
Same thing in both cases. The defendants didn’t deny causing the damage – they admitted it but argued that it was justified. And got acquitted as a result.
So it’s interesting that there is a trend seemingly starting to form here, where people can argue “justification” in response to charges of criminal damage. I mean, I guess you’d need a pretty strong argument, but nevertheless, if it is strong enough, a jury will acquit.
This whole legal area of harming something because we believe that it is harming us is fascinating, don’t you think?