This House thinks that sanctions can be effective.
Adam pointed out that many people agree that sanctions ARE effective. They tell us what is morally right and wrong. For example, sanctions work effectively at school and are necessary to encourage appropriate behaviour. Although their effectiveness in the wider world is dependent on circumstances. Sanctions are much better than violence. Violence is always wrong.
Mr Keddie pointed out that violence is also a sanction.
Lara argued that economic sanctions ARE effective, but are also unfair. We should not be punishing all the people in Russia for the faults of a few of their leaders. Economic sanctions WILL oblige Putin to change his behaviour, but they may take a long time. It is unlikely that economic sanctions will get Putin to back down in the short term, but they can still be effective. A reasonable leader would react to sanctions, and indeed would be deterred from acting by fear of economic sanctions. Unfortunately, Putin was not deterred.
Tosca thought that sanctions can sometimes make you MORE stubborn. She pointed out that there are many ways of avoiding sanctions. Sanctions need to be universally applied, and it can be very difficult to get all countries to agree on enforcing sanctions. For example, economic sanctions on Russia can only be of limited effectiveness as long as China continues to trade with Russia. She thought that sanctions have to be used in the right way and in the circumstances. They need to be targeted on weak points if they are to be effective (eg oil sanctions). They also need to take account of the political situation inside Russia as well as the political situation outside Russia.
George recognised that sanctions are effective at school, especially if the sanctions system is clear to all. The warning / threat of clear consequences helps to avoid the need to actually impose the punishment (impose the sanctions). He agreed that it is unfair to punish ordinary people who are NOT responsible for Putin’s actions. Sanctions should focus purely on those causing the problem, but is this always possible, or effective? George wanted the United Nations to agree on and impose sanctions, but there is no universal consensus for UN action.
Mr Keddie pointed out that Russia is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (alongside USA, UK, France and China) and thus Russia could veto a UN resolution criticising Russia over Ukraine.
Max thought that sanctions ARE effective when imposed on small, weak, poor countries. They are NOT effective on stronger countries in the short term. They can also be very harsh on innocent people, and can hurt both the country sanctioned and the country doing the sanctioning. Sanctions can come in three forms – Economic, but also Cultural and through the use of Force. Max thought that cultural sanctions were very unfair to competitors who missed out through no fault of their own (eg Winter Paralympians). Max also pointed out that sanctions can be discounted in advance – Putin must have anticipated sanctions and decided to go ahead with his invasion of Ukraine anyway. Economic and Cultural Sanctions alone will not stop Putin, at least in the short term. Sanctions can only be an effective deterrent if the consequences / costs of a particular course of action is made clear and credible in advance. Putin seems to have assumed that:
- Ukraine would quickly collapse
- The Zelensky regime could be quickly and easily replaced by an alternative, pro Russian regime.
- The EU would be divided and would not be able to agree on sanctions that are damaging for the EU as well as for Russia.
NONE of these assumptions have been correct.
The effectiveness of sanctions depends on crucial choke points such as Oil. Weak sanctions don’t work, they are only really a way of expressing protest without changing anything. Economic and cultural sanctions are less effective as deterrents than the threat of force. However, it is much harder to agree on cooperation over the use of force. Finally, economic and cultural sanctions only work if those being sanctioned are willing to give in.
This House believes that the use of violence is always wrong.
Benjy agreed with the statement, saying that using violence provoked more violence. However, non-violent resistance IS morally acceptable.
Mr Keddie challenged the idea that “might is right” should ever be acceptable.
Lara said that violence should be a last resort and should be proportionate. First debate, then sanctions, economic and cultural, and only then resort to violence. Putin is using violence as a first resort, not as a last resort. He has no intention of making a reasonable compromise. The problem is that the term “unjustified violence” is a subjective one, attackers always claim justification. Thus violence is MOSTLY wrong, but not ALWAYS wrong.
Max thought that self defence is a justified use of violence. It is not sufficient to use passive resistance in the face of aggression. However, Max did think that there was considerable scope for cyber warfare and for non lethal actions. He thought that deterrence in the form of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) actually works. He called for NATO to enforce a no fly zone over Ukraine, using violence if necessary. He hoped that in future wars would become less lethal, more based on drones and machine warfare. He emphasised that it is NOT acceptable to threaten or harm civilians. Max did accept that it is very risky for the US/ NATO/ UN to intervene.
Tosca argued strongly that violence can be on a graduated scale. It is possible to have controlled escalation under carefully controlled circumstances to achieve deterrence whilst avoiding lethal surprises.
Mr Keddie asked whether it is really possible to “fight for peace”.
Tosca responded by saying that the UN is NOT capable of enforcing peace between significant powers. Adopting pacifism is like an invitation to an aggressor. Passive resistance needs to be properly directed. The success of Lech Walewsa (Poland) and Mahatma Gandhi (India) were at least partly due to the self restraint of the aggressor (Gorbachev and the British Empire). In contrast, the Tiananman Square Massacre (China) showed that ruthless violence CAN be effective and can crush protests. Passive resistance depends on mass support AND on the reluctance of the aggressor to use lethal force.
NO 3 (so violence CAN be morally used, but only in a demonstrably just cause, when used in a measured / proportionate way, and when there is no alternative way to achieve the aim.) Ideally, violence would NOT be used.
Farhan said that the use of violence is the root of all evil. Violence damages our community, society as a whole, and promotes hatred and division. In the past 100 years we have used violence too much. It is increasingly not necessary to use violence because of the rise of social media, technology and sanctions. It should only be used if essential and unavoidable. That said, it IS necessary to help counter the Russian attack on Ukraine.
Zachary argued that violence IS always wrong, but sometimes it is the least worst option, and HAS to be used, even though you don’t want to. Self defence IS justified. You should still resist / fight back, even if you are outmatched in terms of physical power. It is necessary to make an aggressor pay a high price for his aggression. This can be done without the use of military force, for example through sanctions, or through aid (lethal or non lethal) to the victim of aggression. In view of the risk of accidentally starting a Third World War if NATO were to become openly engaged in fighting Russian troops it would be a mistake to intervene with NATO troops. Instead we should arm Ukraine with defensive weapons (eg anti aircraft missiles) and impose effective and lasting sanctions.
Macsen spoke at length about the dangers of fighting Russia, which might strengthen Putin’s argument that Russia is somehow under threat. Instead we must find must be a method of Deterrence. Macsen argued that violence is NOT wrong in all circumstances. For example, the evil atomic bomb has arguably prevented even greater evil via the threat of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). It IS wrong to be the aggressor or the instigator but self defence can be justified, as in the case of Ukraine. Putin must somehow be discouraged, probably by a combination of sanctions and indirect force. “If Russia lays down its arms there would be no war. If Ukraine lays down its arms there would be no Ukraine”. Appeasement is NOT a sensible policy to use towards an aggressor. For example, NATO should not negotiate concessions to Russia in the absence of Ukraine, as was the case at Munich in 1938 (when GB and France negotiated concessions to Hitler at the expense of the absent Czechoslovakia).
However, NATO must be very careful not to make a conflict even worse. For example, General MacArthur went on into North Korea after liberating South Korea, and provoked a Chinese intervention that made the war far worse. MacArthur should have stopped at the 38th Parallel (the pre-invasion border). By continuing on and invading North Korea MacArthur switched from justified defence of South Korea to unjustified attack on North Korea. Violence is only acceptable if force used is justified, proportionate, based on the minimum use of force and aimed to minimise civilian casualties. If effective action is not taken to find a permanent solution there is the danger of another war.
Mr Keddie explained the theory of the “Just War”.
Nico pointed out the problems in drawing a line between self defence, especially pre-emptive self defence, and aggression. There is always the problem of where to stop. For instance, is regime change in the Kremlin (removing Putin) a viable policy goal for the West. The key word in the question is “always”. From a Utilitarian point of view violence that is proportionate CAN be justified. As can the threat of violence, for instance the threat of nuclear war.
NO 3 (so violence CAN be justified in some circumstances.)
This House thinks that NATO should NOT continue its expansion to include more member countries in the East (eg Ukraine).
This debate took place the day after the full scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.
George emphasised that Ukraine is an independent and sovereign country. He thought that Russia, and Putin, had no right to interfere with the internal affairs of Ukraine. The problem is caused by Putin himself, not by all Russians, in fact Russia is internally divided over what Putin has done.
Aidan agreed, saying that Putin should not have invaded, and saying that it would be sensible for Russia to join NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, a free association of sovereign countries promising mutual military self defence, the most important member of which is the USA).
Tosca said that both Ukraine and NATO need to think very carefully about the risks of allowing Ukraine to join NATO in the face of strong opposition from Russia. Suggesting this has been used by Russia as an excuse for invasion.
Mr Keddie explained that Russia has been involved in conflict with Ukraine since before 2013, when an elected Ukrainian government that was sympathetic to Russia had been replaced by an elected Ukrainian government that was more resistant to Russia and which was keen to join both the European Union and, especially, NATO. In 2014 Russia occupied the Crimea peninsular and held a forced referendum in which the local inhabitants were said to support leaving Ukraine. Also in 2014 there was fighting in the East of Ukraine, where some local people wanted to leave Ukraine – Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Fighting has continued in these areas since 2014, with about 15,000 people killed. Russia has been providing help to the separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk. Putin said today that his full scale invasion of Ukraine is justified by his view that Ukraine is historically and culturally the same as Russia and should NOT be an independent sovereign country but should do what Russia / Putin wants (be within Russia’s “sphere of influence”). This is not to justify Putin’s actions, but to suggest that it would be sensible for NATO to be more understanding about why Russia is worried about NATO expanding Eastwards. Since 1997 NATO membership has been increased to include Estonai, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechia and Slovakia, all of which had been dominated by communist Russia / USSR up until 1989.
Tosca responded that Ukraine IS a sovereign, independent country. Consequently, Putin is definitely wrong to attack.
Adam argued that NATO is NOT a threat to Russia. It is a purely self defence organisation acting to help ensure regional peace. It is much more effective than the United Nations.
Lara agreed that NATO is not a threat to Russia, as it is purely aimed at self defence, and that therefore it should be extended Eastwards. Putin is trying to force Ukraine to promise that it will NEVER join NATO, and also trying to get NATO to promise that it will never admit Ukraine as a member. This is foolish, as such threats make divisions between Ukraine and Russia much worse. Putin should seek a peaceful solution, which he has ignored in favour of using extreme violence.
Max argued that it was Putin who is being aggressive, not Russia as a whole. He agreed that NATO is not aggressive, instead it acts to stop the bullying / influencing of small countries by larger countries such as Russia. However, Max felt that Putin had a point in saying that the collapse of the USSR (in 1991) was a world tragedy. Patriotic Russians are right to feel sad about the national decline of Russia. History is a dangerous thing and it is risky to try to roll back the historical clock and return things to as they were before 1990 through the use of force.
2 voted against NATO expanding further to the East.
4 voted in favour, on the basis that NATO is purely for self defence.
Clearly there is a lot more room for discussion here.
This House thinks that educational progress has been badly damaged by the Government’s reaction to COVID.
Nico made an impressive speech. He felt that online learning had suited him. It was less pressurised and gave him TIME to think as well as the chance to go back and review pre recorded lessons to check again if he was unsure. He liked being able to work at his own pace. However, he recognised that many other primary schools, especially State primaries, did much worse. There had been not enough laptops and no real feedback on work. Too many pupils had just “disappeared”, simply not doing the school work. Often this was because of poor physical working conditions at home, but it was also because of the impact of COVID on the mental and the social side of learning. School offers changes of environment and the chance to re energise by walking around and socialising. Also, a lot of impact will vary depending on the age of the pupil. Nico himself had enjoyed lockdown, largely because he had good broadband, a good laptop, games consoles, a garden, a dog, and access to Wimbledon Park, as well as nice walks and long lunches; BUT lots of other people had experienced severely disrupted learning.
During lockdown Nico’s timetable had changed, so that only English and Maths lessons were live online. Other lessons were pre-recorded and could be accessed at any time. However, his parents had felt that there was too much free time, and also that there was too much screen time.
Everyone has been impacted differently. Everyone has a right to education. Whilst lockdown was necessary before a vaccine became available Nico noted that case numbers in February 2022 are higher than ever before and yet the Government is NOT going to lockdown again, for fear of a backlash as people protest at the damage caused to education in particular. Also, Omicron has been much less deadly than earlier COVID, and treatments have hugely improved, Some people still have symptoms 2 years after getting Covid (“long COVID”)
Nico is in favour of another short lockdown if necessary (eg remote learning for a week) and wants it to be more strictly enforced, rather than voluntary. He thinks that the Government regulations did not go too far. However, a lot of educational damage has been done. The educational attainment gap has widened. So called “catch up “ policies have failed. Whilst good schools nearly kept going as normal, most other schools failed to cope. The social damage caused, the continued disruption to learning, and the high level of child mental ill health have all been severely underestimated. Whilst the Government has considered the economic costs of lockdown it has failed to realise the mental and social damage caused. The Government should have acted faster, with more regulations and proper enforcement. In particular, the Government is guilty of hypocrisy because Boris Johnson failed to follow his own regulations.
Lara argued that there should not have been a lockdown over the second half term. Any lockdown subsequent to the first one should have been pre-planned and properly resourced. She had enjoyed access to good broadband, to google classroom, to Zoom and Teams, and to a good computer. Every pupil should have had access to these basic necessities, BUT they didn’t. The lack of support meant that educational inequality has increased, and nothing adequate has been done to help those who had been left behind – the Government were too busy planning parties!
Lara was disappointed that selective schools had not made allowances for the COVID problems when marking entrance exams. Entrance to secondary schools should be based on POTENTIAL, not just on exam performance. She thought that Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) are not adequate because teachers want to justify themselves and keep their jobs. Tutoring CAN help those who are behind to catch up, but too little has been done. She pointed out that in Portugal there had been a TV education channel and that the Government had sent out a lot of educational material to pupils. However, most pupils really suffered during lock down and were never going to catch up. There would be a generation of less academically successful pupils. Too many pupils were trying to work at the kitchen table, with frequent distractions, insufficient room, and lack of printing opportunities. Family relations were really stressful. The economic cost of lockdown could be easily measured, but the psychological cost cannot be so easily measured. The poorest suffered the most. We were NOT “all in it together”.
Tosca agreed that attitude to work is important as well as academic exam results. She wanted there to be much more advance warnings of lockdowns. Resources should be much more widely distributed. She felt that she had really struggled during lockdown at Hornby House, as did a lot of other Primary schools. She had found that there were a lot more live lessons at Emanuel and that it had been easier to upload work. There was also a huge loss of socialisation and of opportunities such as sports and clubs. There were no summer schools and no real catch up process. The mental health costs were largely ignored in the country as whole. The less privileged needed more support. The government had seemed to focus on economic costs and on political popularity rather than on the best interests of the population as a whole. We are now all much more cynical about Government regulations. We really must NOT send pupils home again.
Yes (educational progress HAS been badly damaged by lockdown) 3
This was a fascinating discussion which clearly showed how hard the COVID regulations have hit 11 year old students.
This House thinks that there needs to be much greater equality of opportunity in England.
Anna strongly believed that a good education with good facilities should be open to everyone. It should be the talent of the individual that makes your future, not your wealth or the social status into which you were born. For example, her mother came from a less advantaged background in Pakistan but went to Cambridge university. Anna also called for university tuition fees to be removed as they act as a disincentive and reduce social mobility. She called for the distinction between private and state schools to be scrapped.
Mr Keddie pointed out that this might well lead to a “levelling down” of standards – equality at a lower level – rather than “levelling up”.
Anna’s response was that inherited privilege was the problem; she is happy for those who work hard and are well rewarded to keep their money, although she did think that the market over-rewards some (eg lawyers) and under-pays others (eg nurses). There should be a low universal charge for education, with the option to pay more.
Tosca disagreed – inheritances should not be taken away by the state. The money has originally been earned and it should be up to each generation to choose how to spend their hard earned money.
Lara called for the same standards at a comprehensive as at a private / independent school. Inheritances should be removed because they are inherently unfair and destroy the possibility of a level playing field in which individual merit can shine – a “meritocracy” becomes impossible. People SHOULD have a sense of social responsibility, rather than being purely selfish. She disapproved of grammar schools, as there should not be entrance exams or interviews. However, she recognised that even a comprehensive system can be unequal due to some post codes being much more expensive to live in than others, leading to a wealthier (easier to educate) intake at some local comprehensives and others becoming “sink schools”.
Mr Keddie pointed out that the bulk of educational disadvantage in the UK takes place in the pre-school years; even before birth there is inequality due to diet and habits of behaviour.
George objected to there being a fee to take the entrance exam. The current education system in the UK means that some really clever people don’t get the chance to fulfil their full potential. The educational gap between rich and poor in the UK has been made much worse by the COVID pandemic. Private schools should be taxed more.
Aidan called for a Government bursary system to help the disadvantaged, which he defined as everyone with personal resources below £3 million.
Max argued that the UK has made huge progress towards greater equality. We are much more equal in terms of opportunity than was the case in the past. He opposed Government action to go further, on the grounds that “Positive Discrimination” is wrong. is
We discussed the idea of sharing marks from exams equally around the class – surely that would be “fair”? The consensus was that there would be much less of an incentive for each individual to work hard, and that consequently the number of marks available for distribution (standard of living) would fall and also that the brightest and most hard working would leave to go to a place where they could be rewarded for their talents. Is human nature fundamentally selfish or is it more socially aware? We agreed on a distinction between “Equality of Opportunity” (which they supported) and “Equality of Outcome” (which they thought impractical).
5 voted YES (in favour of much greater equality of opportunity)
1 voted NO (saying that Government intervention could go too far)
This House thinks that flying should be made much more expensive because of its negative environmental impact.
Alex disagreed with the motion, although he recognised that helping the environment would benefit everyone (and other species). He pointed out that flying was essential for business and diplomacy as well as being for enjoyable tourism. He recognised that noise discouraged outdoor living and increased stress for those living under the flight path, but he pointed out that Tourism is vital to the economy in many countries. As an Australian he saw flying as socially important. Whilst flying should be a bit more expensive, Alex did not trust the government to spend any extra money raised by taxing flying on helping the environment (hypothecation of the tax revenue). Alex worried that expensive flying would mean only the elites could afford to fly, excluding most people. Many people would miss out from the benefits of flying.Yes, the negative social costs (negative externalities – the cost of damage to the environment that is NOT currently accounted for in the market price) should be reflected in the cost of tickets.
Oliver also recognised the noise and pollution caused by flying, but balanced this with the economic importance of both Tourism and the jobs of those employed in the airline industry. Personal choice is important. Tourism does broaden our horizons and raise our living standards.
Nico took a utilitarian view that ignored the unquantified cost to the environment in favour of keeping ticket prices down to benefit as many people as possible. Whilst planes do cause noise pollution Nico did not want to see urgent flights having to pay an extra tax. Whilst business flights could afford to pay higher prices he wanted it to be a choice for holiday makers who could choose to pay more in tax or not, as they wish. Nico rejected a Government tax on tickets to fly, but he did call for greater regulation of polluting emissions and noise. He believed that EVERYONE should be able to afford to fly.
Mr Turner explained the environmental argument. He thought that the market price paid by customers should reflect the true cost of flying, including the cost of the damage done to the environment. We should take full account of the importance of biodiversity and the environment. “Carbon offsetting” should not be voluntary – everyone should do it. 1st and 2nd class should be the same, because flying 1st class means much more damage caused per person flying. He himself drives an electric car and believes that there should be much more focus on more sustainable means of travel. He opposed mass tourism and “overdevelopment” and called for the development of carbon neutral fuels and electric planes.
The Tuesday group refused to vote, recognising the complexity of the arguments. It is unclear what “much more expensive” would mean in practice. It is unclear if higher ticket prices would be a solution, or if there should be more Government regulation.
On Thursday there was a lively debate on this issue. Max believed that flying could and should be made greener and quieter. The number of regular flights should be limited to reduce environmental damage.
Lara called for green technology, but also recognised that this would make flights more expensive. She wanted a tax on flying, but a tax which reflected the income of the would be customer – rich people should pay MORE. There was also the problem of how to raise ticket prices for those with inherited money as opposed to earned income. Lara wanted to distinguish between holiday flights and business flights, and emphasised that a lot of flying could be reasonably replaced by the use of online technology.
George also wanted a tax based on customers’ income, or a restriction on the number of flights (whilst keeping the ticket price the same). Planes will eventually be greener, but are definitely damaging at present. They should be taxed, but not very heavily. It should remain a personal choice whether or not to fly. He recognised social costs / negative externality (damage) being done to the environment which are NOT currently reflected in the market ticket price.
Anna suggested a maximum number of flights per person per year, with exemptions as needed. Private jets should be banned as mass flights are much less damaging per person flown. It is fine to tax flights, but the proceeds must be hypothecated (dedicated) to helping the environment. Some form of Carbon Offset scheme should be compulsory, however flying must remain an affordable choice for all. She distrusted excessive Government regulation. She suggested a mileage limit rather than a maximum number of flights.
Aidan wanted to regulate and limit the number of flights. A maximum number of flights per year could be flexible to recognise socially valuable occupations (who could fly more). Aidan loudly recognised that any tax on flights would have many loopholes.
Tosca argued in favour of flying, pointing out the limits of online technology and the benefits of meeting face to face. Flying should be less damaging in the future as electric, solar and green fuel options become available. She wants people to be free to choose and she wants flying to continue to be cheap enough for all to be able to enjoy it. Tourism is economically vital for many. Any additional income raised form a small tax on flying should be strictly hypothecated to improving the environment.
There was a widespread lack of trust that the Government would actually dedicate any tax money raised from a flights tax to improving the environment.
2 said YES (agreed with the motion that flying should be made much more expensive to reduce damage to the environment)
4 said NO.
Clearly the Green lobby still has a long way to go if they are to convince the young debaters at Emanuel school!
This House thinks that the “benefits of Brexit” are being exaggerated by Boris Johnson’s government.
Alex thought that Johnson is definitely exaggerating for political reasons because Johnson’s government came to power by promising huge benefits from Brexit and are now scrabbling around to find some benefits. In truth, there have been some benefits, but not as great as promised. Britain is actually quite small and is getting few benefits from leaving the EU. As an Australian, Alex welcomes the fact that the UK has emphasised its own history and that the UK seems to be improving its trade relations with Australia and adopting an “Australian style” points based immigration system.
Oliver said that there had been some benefits from leaving the EU, for example more control over immigration. Remainers will always exaggerate the failures of Brexit whilst Leavers will always exaggerate the successes of Brexit. In reality, change was always going to be slow and incremental. The vaccine rollout has been a success when compared to the EU, and the EU has shown many internal divisions in the COVID crisis. The EU has been deliberately obstructive about the UK in order to deter any other country from daring to leave. We should remember that a majority voted in favour of leave in 2016, and that COVID would always have been a challenge, regardless of the EU status of the UK. The EU remains very inconsistent in terms of policy, as shown by the flip flopping over diesel cars.
Nico could see NO benefits from leaving. He argued that many had voted for Brexit as a protest vote against our unequal society or because of racial intolerance or because they were misled by the Remainers. The true damage caused by Brexit is being hidden by the Covid catastrophe, for example the shortage of HGV drivers is largely due to leaving the EU. We did not realise the negative consequences of our decision to leave. Johnson is not even trying to be objective, he is clutching at straws to find some benefits. In particular it is ridiculous and inhumane to threaten to deport people to countries where they have no connection.
Yes : 3 So Johnson IS exaggerating the positive effects of Brexit.
No : 0
This House thinks that the Jury got it right in acquitting those accused of criminally damaging the statue of Edward Colston.
Nico thought that it was good that the jury system was able to find the activists not guilty of criminal damage, despite clear proof that they had damaged the statue. They were clearly “guilty”, BUT should not be punished. The existence of the statue was in itself a hate crime. Nico agreed with what they did, but not with the way that they did it. He pointed out that Colston had been a donor, and there did not seem to be any talk of giving Colston’s money back to the victims by the organisations which had benefitted from Colston’s donations. Whjilst Colston is not justifiable, other statues are justified, including that of Winston Churchill, and should not be made more vulnerable to attack by this verdict. However, the jury is meant to only consider the evidence, which clearly showed that the accused were guilty. Nico would prefer to see a jury respecting the facts, finding the accused guilty as charged, and then a judge giving a very light sentence to reflect public opinion on the case. There had been many years of argument over the Colston statue and removing it was morally the right thing to do.
Oliver agreed that a jury should not be able to ignore the facts and should instead be able to trust the judge re sentencing. Whilst it was morally right to support the protesters, the state was correct to prosecute. A criminal offence DID take place. Should we really be free to attack / damage ANYTHING to which we take offense? On the other hand, a UTILITARIAN (Jeremy Bentham) argument would be that if enough people benefit from the it then ANY crime can be justified. The protesters were self appointed and not representative of all. He drew comparison with the determination to eradicate the name of JK Rowling and Quidditch simply because some people take offense at her supposed “Transphobism” (note that JK Rowling’s views are NOT a criminal offence).
On Thursday, Anna thought that there should not be a statue of such a person in the first place. It has been controversial for some time and is morally indefensible. She thought it wrong to physically attack the statue, but supported peaceful protest to get it removed, or possibly to get an explanatory plaque (although it would be difficult to find a consensus on the wording) . Bristol HAS changed and is now a diverse and multi cultural city. As for the role of a jury, Anna recognised that the attackers were guilty of damaging the statue, but agreed with the jury who found them innocent because the statue was itself inappropriate and a hate crime. There was no agreement on how far a minority should be entitled to attack any statue that they find offensive. Anna pointed out that every historical figure has a dark secret and that whatever you do, it is very difficult to avoid someone taking offence at it. Great people SHOULD be remembered, but statues do impose on public space and consciousness. They should be put in context and should not really be a high priority. However, we should question our assumptions and not ignore minority concerns. Anna wanted colonial loot (Parthenon frieze, Benin bronzes) to be returned. She was delighted to hear of the primary school that has renamed Winston Churchill house into Marcus Rashford house. We discussed whether Drake (a slave trader and pirate as well as a great sailor, navigator and heroic fighter) was a suitable name for a school house.
– so the jury got it wrong and should have found the accused guilty of criminal damage, although any punishment should have been very light.