Perhaps all criminals should be required to carry cards which, read: "Fragile- Handle with Care". It will never do, these days, to go around referring to criminals as violent thugs. You must refer to them politely as 'social misfits'. The professional killer who wouldn’t think twice about using his cosh or crowbar to batter some harmless old lady to death in order to rob her of her meagre life-savings must never be given a dose of his own medicine. He is in need of 'hospital treatment'. According to his misguided defenders, society is to blame. A wicked society breeds evil— or so the argument goes. When you listen to this kind of talk, it makes you wonder why we aren't all criminals. We have done away with the absurdly harsh laws of the nineteenth century and this is only right. But surely enough is enough. The most senseless piece of criminal legislation in Britain and a number of other countries has been the suspension of capital punishment.
The violent criminal has become a kind of hero-figure in our time. He is glorified on the screen; he is pursued by the press and paid vast sums of money for his 'memoirs'. Newspapers which specialise in crime-reporting enjoy enormous circulations and the publishers of trashy cops and robbers stories or 'murder mysteries' have never had it so good. When you read about the achievements of the great train robbers, it makes you wonder whether you are reading about some glorious resistance movement. The hardened criminal is cuddled and cosseted by the sociologists on the one hand and adored as a hero by the masses on the other. It's no wonder he is a privileged person who expects and receives VIP treatment wherever he goes.
Capital punishment used to be a major deterrent. It made the violent robber think twice before pulling the trigger. It gave the cold-blooded poisoner something to ponder about while he was shaking up or serving his arsenic cocktail. It prevented unarmed policemen from being mowed down while pursuing their duty by killers armed with automatic weapons. Above all, it protected the most vulnerable members of society, young children, from brutal sex-maniacs. It is horrifying to think that the criminal can literally get away with murder. We all know that 'life sentence' does not mean what it says. After ten years or so of 'good conduct', the most desperate villain is free to return to society where he will live very comfortably, thank you, on the proceeds of his crime, or he will go on committing offences until he is caught again. People are always willing to hbld liberal views at the expence of others. It's always fashionable to pose as the defender of the under-dog, so long as you, personally, remain unaffected. Did the defenders of crime, one wonders, in their desire for fair-play, consult the victims before they suspended capital punishment? Hardly. You see, they couldn't, because all the victims were dead.
Task I9. Explain the meaning of the following words and expressions:
• a brutal sex-maniac • to breed evil
• a cold-blooded poisoner • to cosset
• a desperate villain • to cuddle
• a hardened criminal • to deter criminals
• a professional killer • to do away with
• *a social misfit' • to get away with murder
• a train robber • to go on committing offences
• a violent crirninal * to mow down
• a violent robber • to pull the trigger
• a violent thug • to rob
• to batter • to think twice
Task 20. Study the following key phrases from the text above. Reproduce the text using these key phrases:
1. Criminals should carry cards: "Fragile: Handle with Care".
2. We mustn't refer to them as thugs, but as * social misfits'.
3. Killer who murders old lady for savings needs 'hospital treatment.
4. "Society is to blame" argument — why aren't we all criminals?
5. We have done away with absurdly harsh laws: that's enough.
6. Suspension of capital punishment: senseless.
7. Violent criminal: a hero figure.
8. Glorified on screen and by press.
9. Great demand for crime stories.
10. Train robbers: a glorious resistance movement?
11. Cuddled by sociologists, adored by masses, the criminal is a privileged person,
12. He expects and receives VIP treatment.
13. Capital punishment was once a major deterrent.
14. It protected unarmed policemen, young children.
15. Now the criminal can get away with_murder.
16. 'Life sentence': ten years 'good conduct' and then freedom to live on the proceeds of crime.
17. People hold liberal views at the expence of others.
18. Were victims consulted before suspension of capital punishment? No: they were dead.