The Pistorius bail ruling today seems to have ignited a great deal of controversy, especially if the Tweets about it are any indicator of how the wider public feel. I listened to the entire two hours of the Judge's ruling and I also read most of what was publicly available offered by both the Defense and the Prosecution as the hearing was under way. And I am forced to come to a conclusion which I very much doubt will be popular anywhere but here goes...
Based PURELY on the evidence brought forward by the Prosecution there really is absolutely no evidence to support premeditated murder. I suspect they only brought that charge to allow them to think about which indictment they wished to go with - indeed, the judge himself said that at trial, it would run as a Culpable Homicide, which as you know, is not at all the same thing.
Very sadly, I'm afraid that what seems to have happened is an all too common losing-of-the-temper. A horrible case of domestic abuse which is all too horribly common in so many societies, with the woman on the receiving end. I doubt he MEANT to kill her, he may have intended it at that precise moment, but he was in a rage and, as so often happens in these dreadful cases, anger takes over. NONE of the previous complaints against him had resulted in any conviction and therefore the Judge could NOT use them against him. Was there pressure applied to any of the complainants to drop the cases in the previous instances? Possibly, even probably, who knows?! But THIS ISSUE was not before the Judge. He had to go purely on the evidence. So, rule out premeditated murder as that's never going to hold up.
The sad thing is : had the previous complaints of domestic abuse (and various other things) against him NOT been dropped, he MIGHT have been ordered to attend some type of anger management course and perhaps been saved from himself. Ah, the weird irony of fame.
In my opinion, and based only on what I have read about him; Pistorius appears to me to be a rather spoilt man who is very typical of these characters who live these kinds of lives; they believe themselves to be above the law and, so very often, it turns out they ARE above the law when it comes to verdicts and sentencing however, once again, that was not before the Judge. The tears we witnessed may well have represented true sadness on the part of Pistorius, but for WHOM those tears were shed, I really have no idea. None of us do.
I dislike the fact that he has spent his life fighting for equality and yet his Defense team used his disability as a contributing factor in his "vulnerability" as that seems a little hard to swallow however, the fact remains, had he NOT been so famous, and had we NOT known how capable he is with his prosthetics, then I certainly would have thought he would be more vulnerable and so the law must apply equally here, regardless of "what we know".
Does he present a flight risk? - possibly but on the other hand, if he believes he will get away with it (which I do), or serve very little jail time, easier for him to stay.
Does he present a current risk to anyone? - not really, not now.
Does he present a risk to intimidating witnesses? - not HIM personally, his defense counsel may well be present the risk (or those under their direction could potentially pose that risk) if they persuade, cajole and buy-off witnesses - again, he can't be held responsible for that, and neither can he be held in advance of doing anything. I am not saying his defense WILL do those things, just merely that they COULD potentially attempt such things but there is no way they would be asking Pistorius himself to do any of those things.
The Judge , in my opinion, SHOULD have levied a no-interview clause on him or we'll all be being asked to sympathize with him once he's done Oprah or whatever, however he did not levy that condition. The problem is : I can't stand the man (talking about my own personal feeling, not based on anything other than the things I have read!), or what I've heard about him - but THAT is not how the law works, we don't sentence, convict or hold people in jail because they are bastards (more's the pity!).
Similarly, just as you can't give him preferential treatment because of his fame, you can't hold it against him that we all hate him BECAUSE of that same spoilt, celebrity attitude.
As Camus says in The Outsider (The Stranger in the US) "Meersault was convicted because he didn't cry at his mother's funeral NOT because he killed someone". And, as Meersault himself observes just prior to being put to death "if THIS is how the human race and civilization works, I'm glad I'm going to die as I don't want to be a part of it". The jury didn't like him, he refused to apologize for being an unpleasant and insensitive man who didn't much like his mother. This had nothing to do with the murder in question, but THIS is what the jury convicted him of - being an unpleasant person. Emotion and feelings have NO PLACE in the judicial system, they must NEVER be part of it.
Whatever we may or may not feel emotionally about this entire case, and about the tragedy which occurred on that night, the Prosecution simply didn't provide enough evidence to warrant that (I listened to the entire two hours of the ruling). Sadly. They just didn't.
What concerns me far MORE is that he is in a position to access and pay for such a great defense - surely the REAL issue here is that we should insist EVERYONE receives a superior defense, no matter who they are. That way, the same rules WOULD apply to everyone. Of course, they won't, but THAT'S what's wrong here, not the Judge's ruling.
What further concerns me is that we somehow ensure that crimes against women ALWAYS receive the same gravitas as every other crime. We live in a strange time when crimes against property so often receive far longer sentences than crimes against the person. Especially if that "person" is a woman. Domestic Abuse is regularly discussed in the US currently, in regard to the Violence Against Women Act, and we MUST ensure that ALL cases are treated equally, that NO ONE is above the law, but that equally, EVERYONE receives a decent and thorough defense. Women MUST be protected and we must always fight to ensure crimes of this nature are treated in the most serious and thorough way.
And, as to public ourtage, which is also under consideration ... as the Judge rightly ruled, THAT is for the Police to deal with, not for Pistorious to be responsible for. Phew... So, much as I'd LOVE him to be languishing in jail, the facts and evidence presented, simply didn't back that up. Sadly. Rubbish presentation by Prosecution.
On the basis of that very much-quoted poem "First They Came..." when it comes to me and my trial (figuratively, if I were ever arrested for something), I'm hoping the Judge will ignore the fact that I'm a bit of a bitch - if you get my point?! It's for the good of all etc. that we MUST preserve it as it is.
However flawed that may be. And it is.
I doubt this diary will go down very well and I am NOT supporting Pistorius's version of the events in any sense at all - as the Judge noted, they seem improbable to say the least, I am simply saying - thank goodness emotion and the law are separated in a Court of Law, they must ALWAYS be separated, and we should ALWAYS fight for that to be the case. For everyone...
Anyone who knows me or has read my diaries in the past, will know I'm a fully paid-up tree-hugging, sandal wearing, joghurt knitting anarchist, liberal and leftie. I'm not on any band-wagon here, I've been fighting for women's rights since I can remember, but I also feel strongly that we must be careful not to confuse issues. And I think SOME people, in regard to the bail ruling, HAVE...