Le­niency over an­i­mal cru­elty is per­plex­ing

Townsville Bulletin - - Voice Of The North -

YES­TER­DAY’S de­ci­sion by a District Court judge not to in­ter­vene in a con­tro­ver­sial horse flog­ging case will cause much de­bate within the com­mu­nity. Texan stock­man Hugh Meixner was spared jail by the Mag­is­trates Court af­ter plead­ing guilty to flog­ging a horse so se­verely that it had to be put down. For­mer At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Cameron Dick ap­pealed the sen­tence on the grounds that the two-month jail sen­tence, wholly sus­pended, was too le­nient. Yes­ter­day, in a fresh sen­tenc­ing sub­mis­sion to the District Court, po­lice called for a jail sen­tence but the judge said there were no grounds for prison. The pros­e­cu­tion said the sen­tence was in­ad­e­quate and did not sup­port the grav­ity of the of­fence on the four-year-old chest­nut mare and that the mag­is­trate ‘‘ had failed to take into ac­count an­i­mals are sen­si­tive be­ings ca­pa­ble of feel­ings’’. The judge said it was not open for him to in­ter­vene in the sen­tence im­posed and he dis­agreed with the po­lice sub­mis­sion, not­ing the mag­is­trate had taken ‘‘ a grave view of the facts and a dim view of the con­duct by a pro­fes­sional whose job is to man­age horses’’. Many within the com­mu­nity who fol­lowed the orig­i­nal de­ci­sion were unim­pressed that Meixner es­caped serv­ing time be­hind bars. Those same peo­ple will likely be sim­i­larly per­plexed to­day.

Over­step­ping the mark

BY and large, the Queens­land Coun­cil of Civil Lib­er­ties does a pretty good job pro­tect­ing the rights of cit­i­zens by play­ing a watch­dog role to­wards pow­er­ful or­gan­i­sa­tions like the Crim­i­nal Mis­con­duct Com­mis­sion and po­lice. But QCCL pres­i­dent Michael Cope has opened up a can of worms with his com­ments that he does not con­demn the use of foul lan­guage to­wards po­lice. Po­lice Min­is­ter Neil Roberts weighed in to the de­bate yes­ter­day say­ing no worker in any oc­cu­pa­tion should be ex­pected to ac­cept ver­bal abuse as part of their job. In fact, the Queens­land Po­lice Ser­vice yes­ter­day took the ex­tra­or­di­nary step of post­ing Mr Cope’s com­ments on a Face­book site with the mes­sage: ‘‘ We are post­ing this story be­cause we be­lieve it is an im­por­tant is­sue for our of­fi­cers, and thought you might like to de­bate it.’’ The site re­ceived a swag of com­ments from its mem­bers, con­demn­ing Mr Cope’s attitude. It is hard not to agree that Mr Cope has over­stepped the mark. There are some po­lice who no doubt take their power too far and use of­fen­sive lan­guage as a trig­ger to ar­rest peo­ple. That is a sad fact of life. How­ever, many would ar­gue that most of these peo­ple de­serve to be locked up, es­pe­cially those who are ine­bri­ated and are a dan­ger to not only them­selves but lawabid­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic. Mr Roberts is right when he says no­body de­serves to be tar­geted with swear words while just do­ing their job. Be­ing re­spect­ful to oth­ers, es­pe­cially po­lice, is im­por­tant.

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