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If only he’d been a good Christian, he might have gotten away with murder

This is a dismal story of a wretched man who murdered a young woman. No sympathy for the murderer is at all implied; he’s rotten and stupid, let the legal system handle him.

No, this is about the strange ethics of prison chaplain Peter Brotherton. Part of the evidence against the killer was a confession the chaplain received from the accused, a confession he felt no need to keep confidential and instead scurried off to prison authorities. The problem is why he felt no confidentiality was required.

Mr Brotherton said he decided he could not keep the information secret because Tabak was not religious. The prison’s senior chaplain then took the report to the security office.

So Brotherton is saying that if the accused, Vincent Tabak, had gone to church often enough, he would have kept mum about his admission? So that’s what religion is all about: sheltering the guilty.

Comments

  1. says

    I wonder if there are regulations about this when it comes to prison chaplains. For military chaplains, there is a legal duty of confidentiality, a violation of which would be both inadmissible in a court-martial and would result most likely in the revocation of the chaplain’s commission.

    Somehow I doubt any of that is the case here.

  2. RhubarbTheBear says

    This is adjacent to the topic of religion in the correctional system, a topic which interests me yet doesn’t seem to interest any other atheists I’ve yet met.

  3. CS Miller says

    This is a dismal story of a wretched man who murdered a young woman.

    Please don’t commit perjury – Tabak is on trial for Jo Yates’s murder. He is not a murderer unless he is been found guilty by the jury. He has, however, admitted manslaughter, but the grounds for the crime being manslaughter don’t seem to have been publicly disclosed.

  4. Matt Penfold says

    I wonder if there are regulations about this when it comes to prison chaplains. For military chaplains, there is a legal duty of confidentiality, a violation of which would be both inadmissible in a court-martial and would result most likely in the revocation of the chaplain’s commission.

    Somehow I doubt any of that is the case here.

    A duty of confidentiality does not require that anything said can never be passed onto a third party. It requires that there is a presumption against passing on information, certainly, but there are times when not to pass on information has consequences so severe that it is unreasonable not to do so.

  5. Matt Penfold says

    Please don’t commit perjury – Tabak is on trial for Jo Yates’s murder. He is not a murderer unless he is been found guilty by the jury. He has, however, admitted manslaughter, but the grounds for the crime being manslaughter don’t seem to have been publicly disclosed.

    PZ is not committing perjury. He is not under oath, and perjury is knowingly making false statements under oath.

  6. CS Miller says

    Inane Janine, No, but in all coverage of trials in the UK, the press are very careful to state that the accused is “accused of …”, “allegedly did …”, etc.

  7. Desert Froglet says

    CS Miller @ 3

    Please don’t commit perjury

    Fortunately, PZ hasn’t sworn an affirmation in a court of law, so your concern is noted but misplaced.

  8. Inane Janine, OM, Conflater Of Arguments says

    Inane Janine, No, but in all coverage of trials in the UK, the press are very careful to state that the accused is “accused of …”, “allegedly did …”, etc.

    You can accuse PZ of misrepresenting the case but you cannot accuse him of committing perjury.

    Case closed.

  9. Matt Penfold says

    Inane Janine, No, but in all coverage of trials in the UK, the press are very careful to state that the accused is “accused of …”, “allegedly did …”, etc.

    That would be covered by contempt of court. Nothing to do with perjury.

  10. says

    Like I explained on the other thread: there is no doctrine of “clergy-communicant privilege” or “priest-penitent privilege” in England, unlike the United States. (It used to exist before the Reformation, but was abolished thereafter, since the courts perceived it as a purely Catholic concept.) Confessions and other private communications with a clergyman are not inadmissible in court, and clergy are not protected from being compelled to give evidence in relation to such communications.

    In the US, by contrast, there is a broad legal doctrine of “clergy-communicant privilege”; something said to a clergyman, counselor or spiritual advisor in hir “spiritual or professional capacity” is legally confidential and is inadmissible as evidence in court, and xe cannot be forced to reveal it.

  11. Matt Penfold says

    I think the word you’re looking for is libel.

    Given the context, it would be contempt of court. In the UK there are restrictions on reporting prior and during a trial so as to ensure the accused get a fair trial.

    In respect of the case in question two newspapers were fined for contempt of court for their reporting of the arrest of another person, now totally exonerated. The reporting was such that had the person been brought to trial it would have risked causing the case to be abandoned due to the inability to provide a fair trial. UK courts seem to take such issues more seriously than courts in the US.

  12. says

    Please don’t commit perjury – Tabak is on trial for Jo Yates’s murder. He is not a murderer unless he is been found guilty by the jury. He has, however, admitted manslaughter, but the grounds for the crime being manslaughter don’t seem to have been publicly disclosed.

    It’s not perjury. Perjury is the crime of giving false evidence under oath. PZ is not under oath, nor is he giving evidence, and he isn’t committing a crime by labelling Tabak a “murderer”. (I suppose he might arguably be committing the tort of libel, but it’s extremely unlikely that he’s going to get sued.)

    However, you’re correct that it is, strictly speaking, wrong to label him a “murderer”. He has not yet been convicted, and although he has admitted killing Yeates, it’s always possible that he could be convicted of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder (on the ground of diminished responsibility, etc), or that he could be acquitted by reason of insanity.

    (I’m also not very keen on the whole “rotten and stupid” description. “Disturbed and damaged” would be a better description; people don’t commit murder unless there is something wrong with their brains. Rather than judging and condemning, as though we believed in religious concepts like free will and sin, it seems to me far more rational to conceptualize the impulse to commit violence as an illness which needs to be treated. But that’s a separate issue.)

  13. Matt Penfold says

    Walton,

    I know you are the one with the legal training, but is perjury knowingly making false statements under oath. Most times people are under oath it will be because they are giving evidence, but there also times when declarations are made under oath, and I thought the law of perjury applied then as well.

  14. frustum says

    Holy crap. If the priest from the church when I was a kid ever finds out that I’m an atheist, he is going to blab to everyone that I masturbated and sometimes told my mother lies.

  15. bbgunn says

    So that’s what religion is all about: sheltering the guilty.

    Actually, I think the order is: power, money, sexually exploiting the weak and then sheltering the guilty.

  16. Matt Penfold says

    Walton,

    Also, is the verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity, or a plea of diminished responsibility, available ? I thought that the defence had to indicate they were going to pursue such outcomes prior to the trial starting.

  17. Bodach says

    Sour Tomato @ #1:

    “… For military chaplains, there is a legal duty of confidentiality, a violation of which would be both inadmissible in a court-martial and would result most likely in the revocation of the chaplain’s commission.”

    When I was in the brig (long story), another prisoner complained to the chaplain about abuse by the guards. The chaplain went to the brig commander (USMC officer) and passed the information along.

    Result: more beatings, one by the officer in charge. So legal duty of confidentiality may not be, um, y’know, observed all that much.

  18. says

    Matt Penfold, #5:

    It sounds as if you’re talking about a moral duty. I’m talking about a legal duty.

    That of course is not to say that a military chaplain won’t ever tip off the authorities, just that he won’t be testifying in court if he does.

  19. says

    Oh, please. Blog lawyers.

    Someone did kill that woman, and I have no sympathy for them at all, and said so.

    Vincent Tabak is the person accused of being that killer, as I said.

    Now stop derailing the thread with stupidity, ‘k?

  20. Alverant says

    Walton #13, except the priest wasn’t asked in court, he made a decision to tell law enforcement freely without being asked. If the criminal was religious the priest would have kept silent until trial time. He’s willing to keep secrets only for a select few and that is the cause of the outrage. The criminal assumed the priest would keep what he said private because the priest did that with others. We’re not so much talking about the legal consequences but how clergy decides to selectively apply their morality.

  21. says

    Bodach, #20:

    Yeah, that’s sort of a fuzzy situation though. The Chaplain was doing the right thing by letting the brig commander know as long as the person being counseled by the chaplain didn’t tell him not to (advocacy is a big part of their job).

    I am completely not surprised at the results, though.

  22. Q.E.D says

    Society grants limited protection over the confidentiality of some communications in order to further socially desirable aims. Lawyer-client because we want fair trials. Journalist-source because we want a free press. Doctor-patient because we want to protect privacy.

    Priest-penitent because. . .uhm. . .

    society wants to protect penitents’ non-existent souls?
    society wants to protect paedophile rings run by churches?
    society wants to protect violent criminals from being turned in?
    society wants to give special powers to men in dresses?

    oh fuck it, I give up.

  23. Gregory Greenwood says

    Mr Brotherton said he decided he could not keep the information secret because Tabak was not religious. The prison’s senior chaplain then took the report to the security office.

    Even though clergy-communicant privilege (thanks Walton) is not recognised under UK law, it seems the case here that Brotherton is saying that he would have been prepared to keep quiet about the confession if Tabak had been a Christian even though this flies in the face of UK law. This seems to be a pretty clear case of a chaplian placing his supposed ‘religious obligations’ over his legal ones, another layer of hidden religious privilege in the notionally secular British culture, and another case of a religious hypocrit conveniently editing his supposedly deeply held convictions to exclude unbelievers.

  24. Bodach says

    Sour Tomato Sand,

    The kid who complained didn’t know how shipboard routine worked; my beating was cursory, as I knew enough to keep my mouth shut.
    Good times… God and country.

  25. Beanoglobin says

    Walton said:

    In the US, by contrast, there is a broad legal doctrine of “clergy-communicant privilege”; something said to a clergyman, counselor or spiritual advisor in hir “spiritual or professional capacity” is legally confidential and is inadmissible as evidence in court, and xe cannot be forced to reveal it.

    We either need this rule here in the UK (though I’m not keen on it, since it privileges woo, and puts a lot of moral stress on people who may well be unpaid and/or inexperienced volunteers), or we need a legal obligation for prisons to make it transparently clear that if you’re awaiting trial, no-one you meet in prison is a safe confidante. There have been too many cases of supposed confessions to cellmates or counsellors/religious advisors, and they usually only muddy the waters when a case gets to court.

    This case is a major story in the UK, partly because of the ‘young, pretty, white, female victim’ effect, and partly because of its genuine oddness. Vincent Tabak is definitely not stupid; he’s intelligent and highly educated (at the time of the crime – he admits manslaughter – he was also in a stable and apparently happy relationship). He’s a fairly surprising person to have committed a spontaneous stranger killing of this type, without any very clear sexual motive. Which makes it all the worse that Mr. Brotherton made exactly the wrong call – pulling out of the conversation due to moral squeamishness, and then reporting what he had heard anyway, ensuring that Tabak will probably never tell anyone what actually happened.

    I also wonder how many incidents there have been with other pre-trial prisoners, based on Brotherton’s misplaced sense of religious loyalty.

  26. Matt Penfold says

    It sounds as if you’re talking about a moral duty. I’m talking about a legal duty.

    I am talking about both a legal and ethical duty. Professional bodies should have guidelines on such matters.

    Take doctors as a example. There is a presumption that what is discussed between a patient and doctor should be confidential. That, the doctor should not discuss the patient with anyone other than others who will be involved in the care of that patient. So a doctor can discuss a patient with a nurse who be involved in caring for that patient but cannot discuss the patient with an employer or the police (to give two examples).

    There are exceptions though. If the patient has certain diseases that present a hazard not only to him/herself, but to others (normally because they are very infectious and serious) then the doctor must inform the appropriate authorities. Also if the patient is unfit to drive, and the doctor suspects the patient will not inform the authorities of that fact, then the doctor has a duty to do so. In the UK these are both legal and ethical duties. The doctor could be prosecuted for failing to act in either example, but more often they will face a professional disciplinary hearing.

  27. barbarienne says

    Q.E.D. @26: in theory, the confessional is supposed to work similarly to a counseling session with a mental health professional. Some clergy actually have training in this area. (Obviously many don’t.)

    IANAL, so I don’t know if a murder confession to one’s psychiatrist, for instance, would be protected by doctor/patient privilege.

    Also, is there a legal distinction between a doctor/lawyer/spouse saying “I won’t reveal what someone told me, because I have confidentiality privilege,” vs. a defense team being able to bar a doctor/lawyer/spouse from testifying even if said confidante wants to?

  28. Matt Penfold says

    Vincent Tabak is the person accused of being that killer, as I said.

    He admits he killed her. He claims he did not intend to do so, which legally would make it manslaughter. It is manslaughter he has pleased guilty to.

    Where CS Miller is getting confused is in assuming you are using murder in the English legal sense (unlawful killing with intent) whereas it seems obvious you are using it in the everyday sense, which is simply unlawful killing.

    Given he has admitted to putting his hand and arm over her mouth and around her neck in order to stop her screaming, I am not sure his defence against murder will succeed.

  29. says

    Doesn’t the prison chaplain have a duty to keep the confidence of those he ministers to, regardless of the letter of the law? I mean if someone were up for parole and they discussed with the chaplain how they were worried about how difficult it would be to go straight on the outside then surely the chaplain shouldn’t pass this to the parole board?

    If not then how on earth is a prisoner going to have any confidence in the chaplain at all. If everything that they tell him may be reported then why would they tell him anything? What purpose does he serve the prison community beyond acting as a paid informant. How long till someone shanks him? If that is the correct prison terminology. I’m getting my information from TV movies so it probably isn’t.

    I’m not suggesting that he not act if someone tells him that they are going to commit a crime as this becomes a matter of safety. I’m thinking that a chaplain might have the same kind of limits placed on them as a psychiatrist but then I remembered that a psychiatrist is trained and qualified for their job and performs a service. Whereas a chaplain is essentially a well meaning (paid) volunteer who might have some loosely related training.

    I think that the lesson is clear if you’re a prisoners: Don’t talk to the chaplain….unless he can put in a good word at your parole hearing regarding your recent and unexpected conversion.

  30. Matt Penfold says

    One other aspect needs to be mentioned I think.

    It is true you lawyer cannot pass on the fact you have told him or her that you are guilty of the crime with which you are charged. But if you tell your lawyer you did it, the lawyer cannot continue to represent you unless you please guilty. They can offer arguments in mitigation on your behalf, but if you refuse to plead guilty they must decline to continue to represent you.

  31. Matt Penfold says

    Doesn’t the prison chaplain have a duty to keep the confidence of those he ministers to, regardless of the letter of the law? I mean if someone were up for parole and they discussed with the chaplain how they were worried about how difficult it would be to go straight on the outside then surely the chaplain shouldn’t pass this to the parole board?

    I would argue that no duty of confidentiality should be absolute. Of course this introduces the problem of deciding under what circumstances the duty is forfeit, and I accept it is not an easy thing to decide. Professional governing bodies are the ones we normally charge with making such decisions. In the case of religious or spiritual advisor we have the problem there are not normally such governing bodies, and those that do exist do not have a statutory basis. No one can be barred from being a spiritual advisor for acting unethically.

  32. Who Knows? says

    So that’s what religion is all about: sheltering the guilty.

    Duh! Just as thousands of little children throughout the world. They’ll tell you.

  33. susan says

    @Matt Penfold

    Given he has admitted to putting his hand and arm over her mouth and around her neck in order to stop her screaming, I am not sure his defence against murder will succeed.

    Yeah. In what universe is it not murder to choke a woman to stop her from screaming? I don’t understand this “defense”.

  34. says

    Oh, please. Blog lawyers.

    Someone did kill that woman, and I have no sympathy for them at all, and said so.

    Vincent Tabak is the person accused of being that killer, as I said.

    Now stop derailing the thread with stupidity, ‘k?

    Er… I was responding to the guy at #3 who accused you of committing perjury. He was using the term improperly.

    (And I don’t really see how being a “blog lawyer” can be avoided when one is discussing a legal issue and the proper use of legal terms.)

    I know you are the one with the legal training, but is perjury knowingly making false statements under oath. Most times people are under oath it will be because they are giving evidence, but there also times when declarations are made under oath, and I thought the law of perjury applied then as well.

    Yes. Knowingly lying in an affidavit or a sworn declaration is also perjury. (For instance, in US law, making false statements in an application for immigration status is perjury.) However, that has nothing to do with this situation.

    Given he has admitted to putting his hand and arm over her mouth and around her neck in order to stop her screaming, I am not sure his defence against murder will succeed.

    Sure. But someone who committed acts that would ordinarily amount to murder can, in some circumstances, be convicted of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, if xe was suffering from an “abnormality of mind” which “substantially impaired his responsibility” for the relevant acts (Homicide Act 1957, section 2(1)). I don’t know whether such a defence is available to Tabak on the facts – and I’m not in the UK at the moment and haven’t really been following Tabak’s case – but it is one possible route by which a person who has committed such acts might not be a murderer, strictly speaking, in the eyes of the law.

  35. steve oberski says

    So that’s what religion is all about: sheltering the guilty.

    Only the guilty that belong to ones particular cult.

  36. Rudi says

    “So Brotherton is saying that if the accused, Vincent Tabak, had gone to church often enough, he would have kept mum about his admission?”

    It strikes me that this is an eminently testable hypothesis. Any Christians in the area who fancy a little undercover work?

  37. The Ys says

    I don’t think religious figures should have the same right to confidentiality as secular figures receive in secular countries.

    You must have some legal obligations in order to gain this right of protection…and priests/ministers have none. Psychiatrists, lawyers, and doctors *do* have actual ethical codes they must follow. It makes sense to have those secular obligations to balance the power, and there is no balance when states/countries give religious figures a free pass on any sort of responsibility.

  38. says

    This probably has nothing to do with Christianity per se but with privileged communications in general. Doctors, counselors, lawyers, priests & some others have this status such that they are legally obligated not to divulge their client’s communications. So this case would be similar to one where someone confesses to a lawyer, but the lawyer feels he can divulge the confession because he was not being approached as the person’s lawyer, just as an ordinary person.

  39. Anubis Bloodsin the third says

    “Inane Janine, No, but in all coverage of trials in the UK, the press are very careful to state that the accused is “accused of …”, “allegedly did …”, etc.”

    Except when they try convict and sentence folk that they take a dislike to …like the Landlord in this case.
    The man was hounded and convicted in the minds of the public after two days of hysterical innuendo from said ‘responsible’ press…both tabloid AND broadsheet.
    They did the same favour for Amanda Knox…’foxy knoxy’ was their favorite tag line…bit of salacious innuendo sells papers apparently…who knew?

    Your claim fails I am afraid!

  40. Matt Penfold says

    Sure. But someone who committed acts that would ordinarily amount to murder can, in some circumstances, be convicted of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, if xe was suffering from an “abnormality of mind” which “substantially impaired his responsibility” for the relevant acts (Homicide Act 1957, section 2(1)). I don’t know whether such a defence is available to Tabak on the facts – and I’m not in the UK at the moment and haven’t really been following Tabak’s case – but it is one possible route by which a person who has committed such acts might not be a murderer, strictly speaking, in the eyes of the law.

    My understanding is that the defence has to inform the court it intends to mount such a defence prior to the start of the trial, so as to avoid an “ambush” defence whereby the defence has witnesses lined up to support its case but the prosecution has not been given time to build the case against.

    Tabak’s defence do not seem to be arguing on grounds of diminished responsibility, so my understanding is that verdict will not be available. Am I wrong ?

  41. joed says

    a wife can not be forced to testify against her hubby but she can testify if she wants to. Just cant be forced.
    same rule for any confidential relationship?
    why would anyone tell a military padre anything anyway?!

    of course the merikan legal system is shit now anyway so “they” can do as they please when they please. if someone has info the authorties want they will get it from you one way or ‘nother.

  42. crissakentavr says

    Walton, why do you use fictional words as pronouns? It’s insulting. Please don’t do it unless said people requested it.

    Ugh.

  43. says

    crissakentavr:

    Walton, why do you use fictional words as pronouns? It’s insulting. Please don’t do it unless said people requested it.

    Ugh.

    Why don’t you stop your constant whinging about people? It’s annoying. Don’t do it at all. Ugh.

    If you’re referring to xe, it’s not fictional, you lackwit. GNP (Gender Neutral Pronouns) have been around for a long time and are often used. As usual, you’ve shown your ignorance, which, along with your constant whinging and Tone Trolling, are the only things you ever manage to contribute around here.

    Everyone would benefit from you shutting the fuck up.

  44. crissakentavr says

    Whether a married couple can witness against each other varies by state. Same for priests, doctors, social workers, psychologists/therapists, and even journalists.

    In New York (as of ten years ago), for instance, it was that a marriage prohibited testifying. In other words, a wife was not allowed to testify against her husband. In California, it’s been (as long as I know of) it’s always been only that the state could not compel testimony. Various other states have different values of this – it’s been a big deal in the past as it prohibited testimony in spousal abuse cases.

    I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t have this stuff memorized, only things that apply to myself (or my favorite tv shows!)

    I find the chaplain’s reasoning to be very disturbing, however. I’d have been annoyed, but vaguely okay with, him refusing to testify. Generally, testimony of this sort is hearsay, but for some arcane reasoning they allow these sorts of he-said-so confessionals, which really bothers me – it’s generally unsubstantiated.

  45. crissakentavr says

    I am not a lackwit, It’s fictional. It’s not a real word, it’s your fucking insult for othering. You’ve chosen one of dozens of ‘invented’ IE fictional pronouns: Which your link says.

    They’re insulting. Don’t use them unless requested. It makes you look like a fuckwit to anyone who is of another gender or has been there.

    We have a perfectly good set: They, them, their, theirs. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. I don’t care. But it’s been standard english for five hundred years, if argued about.

  46. crissakentavr says

    Also, Caine: You’re not Walton. You’re just here to get pecking preference. So fuck off, troll.

  47. Sally Strange, OM says

    Ugh, crissakentavr, stop being a net nanny! Don’t you ever get tired of tut-tutting people? I guess you must get off on it, because a rational person who disliked the style of communication around here as much as you do would simply leave and find another blog more suited to hir tastes.

  48. Tethys says

    Crissakeatr

    Nobody is forcing you to post here. If you dislike the responses you can A) change your obnoxious behavior or B) go post where your brand of assholishness is appreciated.

    When in Rome ya know?

  49. Sally Strange, OM says

    We should start counting how many times crissakentavr brings up the pecking order. Zie is obsessed with it. And I am going to use invented gender-neutral pronouns to refer to hir from now on, not just because it bugs hir, but also because I am confused about hir gender. At first I assumed the “crissa” part of hir ‘nym was the feminine name “Crissa,” but then zie mentioned having a female spouse. Now, zie doesn’t seem like a lesbian, but I could be wrong.

    They and their sort of work for gender-neutral pronouns, but they are technically ungrammatical. “One” also works, but is clunky, and there’s no corresponding possessive. There’s no reason we can’t all decide to add another set of pronouns to the language. In fact, we just did! Yay, language is plastic!

  50. crissakentavr says

    You ever notice how it’s the same trolls who pile on, not by the topics that interest them in particular, but because it’s something to argue about? I don’t care to do more than realize it’s the same trolls, with the same complaints, trying to one-up each other.

    You go on, using words that insult people. I’m sure they’re fine by your standards or that one of your friends is said minority, so you can’t be bigoted. Whatever. You were asked not to use said words. Why should I have to ask again, when you obviously read my reply?

  51. says

    Sally Strange:

    In fact, we just did! Yay, language is plastic!

    I’ll toss in a Yay for language evolution! Yay!

    We should start counting how many times crissakentavr brings up the pecking order. Zie is obsessed with it.

    Yes, xe is obsessed. Obsessed because stomping in and dropping Tone Troll shit all over the place didn’t impress anyone. Xe has been utterly flummoxed as to why this continues to get responses of contempt and dismissal. Xe continues to stomp hir feetsies when no one considers hir tantrums to be cutting or witty. Poor, poor failtroll.

  52. Tethys says

    Why should I have to ask again, when you obviously read my reply?

    Because I dislike bullies, and I especially dislike tone trolling bullies.

    You didn’t ask, you demanded. Fuck off already.

  53. Sally Strange, OM says

    trying to one-up each other

    Does this count as a reference to the pecking order? If so, that makes three today. Possibly four.

    Also, I’m not sure what is inherently insulting about being referred to with a gender-neutral pronoun. Obviously, if someone specifically indicates, “Hey, I prefer male/female pronouns,” then continuing to use “xe” or “zie” or whatever would be an indication of disrespect. I am deliberately disrespecting crissakentavr right now, because zie deserves it, but it does seem like zie thinks that use of such pronouns is an insult in and of itself. Which really makes no sense.

  54. says

    Sally Strange:

    a rational person who disliked the style of communication around here as much as you do would simply leave and find another blog more suited to hir tastes.

    Oh, that wouldn’t work for crissakentavr. No, no. You see, hir goal is not only to constantly whinge and scold, it’s to bring down the nasty, horrible, awful clique of the so-called superiority and tyranny of the top tier. IOWs, the regulars. Especially those nasty, icky OMs. I mean really, couldn’t find a worse group of people anywhere.

  55. says

    Sally Strange:

    Does this count as a reference to the pecking order?

    Yes. The fact of the matter is that crissakentavr is dying to be one of the “top tier”, one of the respected regulars. Crissakentavr is dying to be respected and considered to be someone worth listening to, like the regulars.

    Since crissakentavr’s contributions consist of Tone Trolling and whinging, this isn’t going to happen. So, xe instead carries on tone trolling and whinging, claiming that there is a pecking order and that the “top tier” are mean bullies who need to change their ways and see that crisskentavr is right.

    This completely ignores all the new people who show up and are listened to and accorded respect. This completely ignores all the new people who show up and start off on the wrong foot and go on to become respected, valued members of the Horde.

  56. says

    Also, crisskentavr, you’re being a nasty, devious little fuck choosing Walton to go off on, as he’s someone who would apologize and bend over backward in an attempt to appease you. You’ve been tone trolling here long enough to know that, which makes you an even more contemptible, loathsome, odoriferous weasel fart.

  57. Kseniya says

    Hmmm. All words are human inventions. Words get added to the lexicon every year. If a language lacks a word which will adequately express a thought, a neologism may spring from that lack.

    Quark. Transistor. Meme. Shemale. Laptop. Blog. Fictional words, each and every one of them.

    English obviously lacks commonly-accepted gender-neutral singular pronouns. “It” is a dehumanizing way to refer to an individual, and “they” as a subject feels clunky (to me), not to mention potentially ambiguous.

    “They doesn’t know what they’re talking about.” (Ugh.)

    They, them, their, theirs…But it’s been standard english for five hundred years, if argued about.

    (But not if not argued about?)

    Yeah, the singular “they” has been around for a while, and yet is still not (or is no longer) universally accepted as being formally correct. That may change one day. I think it will. That said, I don’t particularly care for the proliferation of “they/their” in cases where the gender of the subject is known. That just seems sloppy to me.

    “Every boy should wash their hair at least every other day.” (Ugh.)

    As for invented gender-neutral singular pronouns, I kind of like Жи, Жэр, Жам and Хум.

    :-)

  58. says

    This completely ignores all the new people who show up and start off on the wrong foot and go on to become respected, valued members of the Horde.

    There’s a Horde? Do we rampage? Awesome!

  59. Ichthyic says

    Also, Caine: You’re not Walton. You’re just here to get pecking preference. So fuck off, troll.

    the stupid is burning me…
    so much… *wrong* with such a short sentence…
    make it stop!

    besides, we don’t have a hierarchy here! We’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week. But all the decision of that officer have to be ratified at a special biweekly meeting. By a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs.

    now piss off.

  60. Chris Lawson says

    It varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but in my neck of the woods a doctor is under no obligation to inform the police that a patient has committed a criminal act. In fact, it would be seen as a violation of ethics to do so without a court order/subpoena. There is the exception that child abuse *must* be reported, even if it is only a clinical suspicion. On the other hand, it is generally accepted that it is ethically correct to inform the police if one’s patient poses a genuine threat to someone. So if a patient credibly informs their doctor that they are planning to cut the throat of their ex-, then the doctor is obliged to break confidentiality.

    The situation with regard to priests, in the military, in the US is beyond me.

  61. says

    Chris Lawson:

    The situation with regard to priests, in the military, in the US is beyond me.

    Priests (Catholic ones) operate under the seal of the confessional, which holds that no matter what is confessed, they are not allowed to tell anyone about it.

    As for the chaplain in the story, I don’t think he’s operating under such a strict rule, however, it’s generally held by all types of ministers, pastors, chaplains, etc., that what is related during a confessional is to be kept utterly confidential, regardless of what is confessed.

  62. Carlie says

    It’s fictional. It’s not a real word,

    You do know that’s how all words happen, right? They’re all things that someone made up. They didn’t just appear fully-formed as a language in the heads of early hominids. Did you know that dictionaries actually add new words every year?

    Other words people made up:

    internet
    auto-complete
    cryogenic
    gene

    Oh hell, this is boring and stupid, because the list would include every word in every language, ever. When large numbers of people start using and understanding it, it’s a real word. Deal with it, or go communicate only in gestures (and no actual sign language, because that would be cheating, as new signs get created too).

  63. Carlie says

    Oops, sorry Kseniya, I was so frustrated by the comment that I scrolled down and posted before I saw you already covered that ground. Didn’t mean to rehash.

  64. maureen.brian says

    Back at the trial, Tabak’s barrister has just outlined his defence and – surprise! – it is good old entitlement again!

    His story is that he made a pass, misreading or ignoring any signals from Yeates, she resisted and he felt entitled to shut her up when she screamed, her death being an unfortunate but unplanned detail.

    So that’s it – no diminished responsibility, no mental impairment, not even too drunk to know quite what he was doing. He did not set out with a fully worked out plan to murder the woman and that, he thinks, should get him found guilty of the lesser charge.

  65. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I am not a lackwit

    The evidence says otherwise. Like this inane protestation.

  66. Louis says

    Since this relates both to this thread and ongoing discussions of feminism, read about the defence’s timeline of the Yeates case.

    Louis

  67. Pteryxx says

    …rrrRRRRRRR WHY DO I LOOK WHY DO I ALWAYS HAVE TO LOOK

    (thanks for the link, Louis)

  68. Kseniya says

    Carlie:

    Oops, sorry Kseniya, I was so frustrated by the comment that I scrolled down and posted before I saw you already covered that ground. Didn’t mean to rehash.

    Oh, I’ve done that more than a few times, myself. I’m always pleased to see your name pop up in a thread, especially when we’re both so clearly on the same page. And I never would have thought of “cryogenic”. :-)

  69. Twist says

    Aaaaaand he’s been found guilty. The courts have revealed how he spent the days and weeks after the murder looking up things like how long it takes a body to decompose, and the legal differences between murder and manslaughter. As well as, apparently, lots of pictures of men strangling women. Lovely.