The UK does not allow prisoners to vote, a tragedy that probably doesn’t bother most law abiding citizens since prisoners would undoubtedly vote for anyone who promises to go easy on criminals.
Most law abiding citizens other than Rowan Williams, that is, who, in his never ending exertions to distance himself from normal people, has put his foot – perhaps both feet – in his remarkably capacious mouth by supporting a prisoner’s “right” to vote.
Williams said that the civic status of a prisoner should not be “put in cold storage” while they are inside. “The notion that in some sense, not the civic liberties, but the civic status of a prisoner is in cold storage when custody takes over is one of the roots of a whole range of issues around the rights of prisoners,” he said in remarks published by the Prison Reform Trust.
“If we lose sight of the notion of the prisoner as citizen, any number of things follow from that, and indeed are following from that. The prisoner as citizen is somebody who can … expect that penal custody will be something that contributes to, rather than takes away, their capacity to act as a citizen in other circumstances,” said the archbishop.
“Thus issues around restoration, around responsibility, around developing concepts of empathy and mutuality are all part of what seems to me to be a reasonable working out of what it is to regard the prisoner as a citizen.”
John Hirst, who chopped up his landlady with an axe before managing to develop much of a concept of empathy, is, needless to say, most appreciative of Rowan’s support and is boasting about it:
The Archbishop of Canterbury today said prisoners should get the vote, backing an axe killer whose campaign has been endorsed by European courts.
John Hirst, who hacked his landlady to death, yesterday boasted that he was on the verge of forcing the Government to ‘wave the white flag of surrender’, as MPs prepare to vote on the move tomorrow.
As usual Rowan sacrifices common sense to tangled Rowanesque distinctions; in this case between civic liberties and civic status, both of which – even if there is a distinction – are forfeited the moment you start hacking your landlady to death with an axe.
Rowan Williams should re-read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment: in it, Raskolnikov, an axe murderer, didn’t receive redemption through insisting on his right to vote, but by confessing his crime, repenting, accepting his punishment in Siberia and being spiritually reborn in Christ.