The world was plunged into shock and confusion yesterday, when a man who had pled guilty to a crime was told he would face sentencing. The move quickly proved controversial:
"He may have committed a crime, but isn't he the real victim here?" asked one total moron. "You have to look at the mitigating circumstances - he's rich, he's famous, his friends are rich and famous, he's an artist, the people arresting him are American... should such a man really be punished?"
Others say he's already suffered enough: "Since fleeing the US after pleading guilty to the assaulting a thirteen year-old, he's been forced to have a successful career, live in the South of France and miss the occasional award ceremony. More than that, some lowbrow oafs still think of him as a rapist, and not a visionary artiste. What more atonement can you ask of a man?" protested some utter clown.
What ever the rights and wrongs of sentencing this particular convicted criminal, there can be no doubt that the whole issue raises some troubling questions about our justice system. Should we sentence convicted rapists? Is it better, after they've done a runner to avoid a hefty jail sentence, to just let them be? What sort of signal does it send to society if we persist in having judges pass sentence on people who merely happen to be convicted criminals? These are complex and difficult moral questions - the one point on which we can be sure is that there are no easy answers.