Category Archives: crime

The Regional Subjectivity of Crime & The Tests for Guilt

A definitive statement as to what constitutes Crime has successfully evaded scholars. But one thing that they all seem to agree on is that “A person is never punished merely for wrong thinking or evil thoughts”.

“Thought Crimes” Orwell style are not offences (Or are they?).

In an age of Mass Surveillance, Kinematic Fingerprinting & Emotion Detection, Mass Data Retention & the Investigatory Powers Act and Alphabet Agency Profiling based on Digital Activities, is that still the case?

Certainly there are many examples of arrest and detention for “thinking” a certain way. But that’s not for here at this time.

Rather than examining the definition of crime in a particular country I think it is more interesting to examine it in the global context. The majority of people tend to assume that Crime and Punishment can be generally assumed to be similar everywhere that they travel to.

As someone with a wanderlust tendency who has “walked the Earth” I can assure you that is not the case.

A Moving Goalpost

The definition of “Crime” in a society has always been influenced by the prevailing norms that exist at any particular time amongst a group of people living together as a community.

Personal feelings, religious beliefs, preferences, tastes, experiences, economic expediency or laws based based on the personal opinions of a “leader” have been the motivations that translated into local laws that criminalised some acts and did not consider other acts as “criminal”.

A Simple Analogy: The Attitude to Cannabis in the USA

In 2017 I guess the simplest analogy would be the different attitude to marijuana in the United States. The use, possession, sale, cultivation, and transportation of cannabis is illegal under federal law in the United States but individual States are permitted to conditionally decriminalise cannabis for recreational or medical use.

Cannabis is listed at a Federal level as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and is classified as a Schedule I drug. The DEA defines this classification as a substance that has a high potential of being abused by its users and has no acceptable medical uses.

So there exists a contradictory attitude of Federal versus certain State laws regarding the exact same matter – in the former it is a “crime”, in the latter it is not – in some States.

The Definition of Crime

“There is no one word in the whole lexicon of legal and criminological terms which is so elusive of definition as the word crime” (McCabe 1983:49)

It reminds me of the first thing that we were thought during my time as an Economics student – namely, that the study of Economics was an “inexact social science”.

Inexact laws that contain in their antecedents vague ceteris paribus (“all other things being equal”) conditions and “facts” based on local beliefs or tendencies do not constitute definitions.

The different definitions of crime and the vastly different tariffs which certain criminal offences attract are therefore, for the most part best understood in the context of the culture, religious practices and societal “norms” of the region or country that are being examined (excluding the universally abhorred offences – but irritatingly that is not always the case either).

Examples:

  • Judicial Corporal Punishment in Saudi Arabia for Possession of Alcohol (Flogging);
  • Mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking in Singapore;
  • Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s state sanctioned vigilante murders of suspected drug dealers;
  • The universal application of sharia (Islamic law) by certain countries;
  • The acceptance of sharia in some secular European countries as the basis for divorce, inheritance and other personal affairs of their Islamic population;

Looking around Google I came across the following definition of crime which was not accredited:

“Harmful act or omission against the public which the State wishes to prevent and which, upon conviction, is punishable by fine, imprisonment, and/or death. No conduct constitutes a crime unless it is declared criminal in the laws of the country. Some crimes (such as theft or criminal damage) may also be civil wrongs (torts) for which the victim(s) may claim damages in compensation.”

Types of Crime (In the Republic of Ireland) 

* A crime is defined in law in the Republic of Ireland as an act which may be punished by the State. The way in which a criminal offence is investigated and prosecuted depends on the type of crime involved. For these purposes criminal offences may be described in different ways such as:

  • Summary offences
  • Indictable offences
  • Minor offences
  • Serious offences
  • Arrestable offences

* Citizens Information. (19 July 2016). Classification of crimes in criminal cases. Journal, [online] Volume(Issue), P1. Available at: URL [Accessed 25th February. 2017].

The Test for “Guilt”

However, the mental state as well as the physical elements of a crime are key parts of establishing the guilt of a person committing an offence. In order for a person to be guilty of an offence there must be coincidence between two key concepts, that of “Mens Rea” and “Actus Reus”:

  • Mens Rea dictates that there must be a guilty mind, moral culpability and a blameworthy state of mind;
  • Actus Reus concerns itself with with the physical elements of the crime and excludes the mental element;

For guilt to be established then the two concepts must be coincidental “happening or existing at the same time”.

The latin phrase “Actus Non Facit Reum, Nisi Mens Sit Rea” translates as “An act does not itself constitute guilt unless the mind is guilty”.

REFERENCES

Naidoo, Jadel. 2016/2017. Diploma in Criminology Class Notes. Dublin Business School 1 (1) 1-14;

Penrose, Graham, AirGap Anonymity Collective (16 January 2017). Mass Surveillance & The Oxford Comma Analogy. Blog [online] Available at: URL [Accessed 25th February. 2017].

Penrose, Graham, AirGap Anonymity Collective (3 January 2017). Orwell 4.0: The Stealth Advance of Kinematic Fingerprinting & Emotion Detection for Mass Manipulation. Blog [online] Available at: URL [Accessed 25th February. 2017].

Penrose, Graham, AirGap Anonymity Collective (21 November 2016). NSA, GCHQ, The Five Eyes Handing Ireland Cyber-Security Opportunity. Blog [online] Available at: URL [Accessed 25th February. 2017].

Penrose, Graham, AirGap Anonymity Collective (29 October 2016). Ireland is NOT a Privacy Advocate. Blog [online] Available at: URL [Accessed 25th February. 2017].

Hausman, Daniel M. 1984. Causal Priority. Noûs, 18 (2): 261-279.

Hausman, Daniel M. 1998. Causal asymmetries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Citizens Information. (19 July 2016). Classification of crimes in criminal cases. Journal, [online] Volume(Issue), P1. Available at: URL [Accessed 25th February. 2017].

ENDS

The Growth of Disharmony & Social Chaos in Ireland

The Republic of Ireland is a small country with a population less than that of the metropolitan areas of Manchester & Liverpool combined. The next Irish general election will take place in 16 days from now on Friday, 26 February 2016 for the 32nd Dáil (Irish Parliament).

 

After economic meltdown in the late noughties, the subsequent bank bailouts, the collapse of the housing market, the widespread personal debt crisis, rampant homelessness, endemic poverty and the imposition of radical austerity on the ordinary citizens of Ireland by the European troika*, the country has splintered economically, socially and politically.

* European troika, the tripartite committee led by the European Commission with the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, that organised loans to the governments of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Cyprus in return for saving the bond holders

In the centenary year of the 1916 Uprising, Ireland in 2016 looks very like it did a century ago. Consider the events of the last week along a range of social issues including the erosion of civil liberties, organised crime, extremism, xenophobia, republicanism, the refugee crisis and law & order.

The Erosion of Civil Liberties – Two Special Criminal Courts 

The recent extreme rise in violent crime nationally and gun violence between organised criminal gangs has been used by the Fine Gael party to ridicule legitimate opposition to the illegal practises of the non-jury Special Criminal Court apparatus.

Fine Gael attacked Sinn Fein for their plans to abolish it if ever elected, Fine Gael on the other hand have pledged, if reelected, to institute a second such court to clear up the backlog of cases currently before it.

Article 38, 3.1 of the constitution states “Special courts may be established by law for the trial of offences in cases where it may be determined in accordance with such law that the ordinary courts are inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice, and the preservation of public peace and order.” hence the legal basis for a court that flies in the face of normal practise whereby one is tried in front of a jury of one’s peers.

Primarily used in the past for dealing with Republicans, since the Good Friday Agreement the court has been used more and more for organised crime, while still trying dissident Republicans for their various misdeeds. Fine Gael are linking Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy’s conviction at the court to Sinn Fein’s desire to get rid of it.

The Special Criminal Court in Ireland has been criticised by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Amnesty International and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, for its procedures and for being a special court, which ordinarily should not be used against civilians.

Among the criticisms are the lack of a jury, and the increasing use of the court to try organised “ordinary” crimes rather than the terrorist cases it was originally set up to handle. Critics also argue that the court is now obsolete since there is no longer a serious terrorist threat to the State. Under the law, the court is authorised to accept the opinion of a Garda Síochána chief-superintendent as evidence that a suspect is a member of an illegal organisation. The Sinn Féin political party have been critical of the Special Criminal Court.

The Impact of Immigration, the Refugee Crisis & Rising Islamophobia

Pegida, which stands for Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West, began in Germany last year, largely in response to the European refugee crisis. Pegida attempted to hold a rally at the GPO in Dublin on the 9th Feb. 2016. Similar marches were held in Warsaw, Prague & Dresden – the one in Dublin turned violent:

“All-Out War” between Rival Criminal Gangs 

The deadly feud between the Christy Kinahan cartel (Spain) and associates of Gary Hutch started when Gary Hutch was shot dead in Spain last September. After months of simmering underworld tension, the feud exploded when a north inner city gang (6 men – 3 in SWAT uniforms with AK-47s) connected to Gary Hutch opened fire in the Regency Hotel, Dublin. The Kinahan cartel held a war council in a south inner city pub over the weekend and struck back quickly.

Despite a massive Garda presence in the city they murdered Eddie Hutch last Monday the 8th Feb, 2016 in a revenge attack. Yesterday, it emerged that just hours after Hutch was murdered, Gardai arrested ‘Fat’ Freddie Thompson and his cousin Liam Roe after a short car chase that started in Crumlin and ended in Cork Street. Thompson had his clothes seized by Gardai after they spotted blood on his tracksuit and runners.

The Rise of Far Right Groups & Reactionaries

Members of Identity Ireland were attacked in Dublin last week while travelling on the Luas (light rail system).

A group of men dressed in black masks armed with baseball bats and iron bars attacked several members of the group.

  

Spokesman for the group Peter O’Loughlin said ““The most worrying aspect was some tweets sent out by some politicians.

A Labour councillor, I think she was a councillor, sent out a tweet saying ‘ha ha ha…Karma is a bitch’. That is a Government party you are talking about. I haven’t heard anything from the likes of Joan Burton. Fianna Fáil nothing. Sinn Féin – nothing.” The attack received little coverage in the MSM.

Anger at Politicians Favouring the Elite & Imposing Additional Taxes on the Poorest 

Richard Bruton, Fine Gael politician and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in the current Irish coalition government came to Kilmore, Coolock in Dublin to canvass last year. Bruton has been knee deep in scandals involving state corruption (IBRC, TTIP), illegal assistance to businessmen (Siteserv / Denis O’Brien) and presided over swingeing cuts to benefits for those most in need (cuts to single mothers’ allowances). His reaction to legitimate questioning demonstrates the contempt in which Irish politicians hold their constituents.

General Increase in Extreme Crime – The Kearns Assassination / Kenneth O’Brien Dismemberment 

Detectives suspect the “professional hit team” who murdered Darren Kearns last month received a phone call from an associate who had been stalking him and described it as a highly organised murder that involved the use of two cars at very short notice.

 

Kenneth O’Brien’s torso was recovered from the Grand Canal last month and was originally connected to a dispute with Eastern European gang members.

Strained Relations with the EU over US Tax Arrangements 
(lifted in its entirety from David McWilliams article)

There are two Irelands: commercial Ireland and bureaucratic Ireland. For many years, their interests were aligned. The commercial angle revolved around Ireland having trade links with the EU but with Anglo/American tax policies for capital; the bureaucratic angle involved being pro-European.

They complemented each other. Bureaucratic Ireland wanted to curry favour amongst Europeans at the top table, while never really standing up for the citizens of the country. So when, for example, the citizens voted against EU treaties, we were admonished by bureaucratic Ireland to vote again. This is not the stuff that democracies are made of.

But now, for the first time in years, a conflict exists between commercial Ireland and bureaucratic Ireland.

Commercial Ireland, the Ireland of business, might have to, very quickly, exercise some critical thinking and restraint over bureaucratic Ireland. Commercial Ireland lives in the real economy, the one that buys and sells, makes profit, employs people, pays wages and is largely held in some way responsible for what it does.

Bureaucratic Ireland inhabits the never-never land of the Dublin-Brussels corridor, which is entirely populated by civil servants and technocrats who have no reason to worry about commercial Ireland because their wages don’t depend on commerce. There is no relationship between competence and reward in bureaucratic Ireland.

Consider the Central Bankers, Department of Finance heads and regulators whose incompetence helped destroy this economy. Who lost their job? Did anyone lose pensions? No, they were largely rewarded for their failures. At least the politicians were voted out, but the top civil servants remain unscathed.

The Centenary Year 

In 2016, in these complex times, the politicians of Ireland would do well to remember the words of Jim Larkin – “You may succeed in your policy and ensure your own damnation, by your victory”