Coded gray.

Freeday 1 June 2001


Pic of the day: What, you think I don't have any experience in court matters? I have played Daggerfall! (Screenshot from that game.)

Justice vs emotion

I had really planned to write something nice and fluffy, but national news intervened.

The court has finished the horrible murder case in the city where I work. There is no reason to go into full details, but two children were murdered in May last year. After weeks of uncertainty, the police arrested one young men who confessed and implicated another. The other is a known child molester and the two of them used to hang out together, so the case seemed solved. The court has eventually reached that conclusion too, and sentenced the youngest (who confessed) to 17 years in prison and the older to 21 years plus 10 years under guard (on probation or whatever it is called). We don't have capital punishment here in Norway, and this time I'm happy about it.

Media have broadcast quite a bit of detail from this case, and the problem is that there is no proof against the older suspect, except the explanation of his friend and the fact that the two of them used to hang out together at the time. There were found hair on the scene of crime from two persons apart from the victims. One hair from the younger, and two from someone else - but it is not the other suspect.

The man who is sentenced to 21 years in prison has maintained all the time that he was not there during that time, he was at home. A technical expert from the telecommunications company confirms that his mobile phone was used twice during the supposed duration of the crime - but not at the scene of crime. The positioning agrees with it being used at home, though. Sadly for him, home is just a few minutes away.

The problem facing the six judges (two professionals and four civilian, in effect a kind of jury) is that they have a neat explanation incriminating a known deviant. All they lack is proof, plus some way to explain the pesky alibi. And the whole city is boiling with rage. Someone must pay, and they don't have anyone else.

He may be guilty as sin, for all I know, if he had the foresight to arrange it all very carefully. (He doesn't seem quite bright enough to pull it off, in my opinion, but hey, I am not exactly known for overestimating common people.) The fact remains that there is no proof except the confession of his friend. You can't sentence a man just because you know he must be guilty. You don't have the autorithy to do that. You have to prove it. By the law of Moses there needed to be two or three witnesses to condemn a man. Evidently we have relaxed the standards a little bit during the last 3000 years.

I hope I have a webcam before someone is murdered in my neighborhood. You know I am a very suspect person, not being married and all. You never know what crimes I may commit unless you watch me all the time.


In seemingly unrelated news, the Norwegian government is implementing a reduction in VAT (value added tax, a kind of sales tax) on food. Most European countries have lower taxes on food, and with increased travel and trade we are eventually about to adapt. Now it turns out that the few remaining grocery chains are inching up their prices fast, so that when the tax is reduced they can set their prices back to near normal levels and pocket the difference.

Norway is a sparsely populated country, all together we are something like 4.5 million people, the size of a reasonably large city many other places on the globe. It should not come as a shock that when there are only a few competitors in the grocery market, they know each other on first name basis and do fun things together. Fun things which may extend into trying to cheat the customers. It certainly worked well enough during the restructuring of Norwegian agriculture for the last decade. While farmers got less and less money for their products, the prices to consumers stayed up, lining the bulging pockets of our relatively few capitalists. (Who admittedly, even after this, are not exactly up to American standards of filthy richness.)

Now things did not heat up until yesterday, when our Minister of Agriculture was asked to comment on the statistics which revealed a rapid price increase on food, and particularly by the chain RIMI. He was not amused, and said on national broadcasting that the only effective response from the consumers would be to do what he did: Leave RIMI and shop elsewhere.

Today the grocery chain threatens to sue him for instigating a boycott. There are rules to boycotts, at least here in Norway. You have to give warning a reasonable time in advance, and you have to have solid factual arguments to support the boycott. A lawyer was interviewed on national broadcasting and spoke with solemn dignity about the matter.

Let us face it, the guy just asked people to use their common sense (if any) and go elsewhere if they didn't like a price hike. To sue someone for using his common sense and recommending others to do the same ... well, it looks fabulously stupid. Then again, people often act irrationally when found with their hand in the cookie jar.

It just goes to show, that justice and strong emotions don't go well together. Let the wise see it and remember.

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago
Two years ago

Visit the Diary Farm for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.

I welcome e-mail:
Back to my home page.