Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Untoward Fate

Guardian prison interview with Steve Gough - the "naked rambler" or serial indecent exposer according to your taste. I'm not sure I'd like to meet him when out for a stroll with the kids, but his periods out seem to be shorter and shorter these days - possibly due to his attempts to live his entire life naked - including his air travel. Apparently ever since his 2006 attempt to walk naked to John O'Groats he's been in a series of Scottish prisons - often being arrested immediately outside them as he leaves, naked, having just completed a sentence.

Eventually Gough's case was heard at Scotland's appeal court, where it was found that breach of the peace should indeed be interpreted to criminalise his behaviour. Since then Scottish sheriffs have fallen in line; his sentences have steadily increased to the maximum and, should he keep refusing to dress, he will be caught in an endless cycle of two-year sentences. He insists if he were allowed to return home naked to Eastleigh, he'd cease being naked in public "when I don't have to do it any more".
I have an awful feeling this story's not going to end well.

Whenever he pops up on the news (usually having been sent to prison yet again) I'm reminded of this passage from Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd :
George's son had done his work so thoroughly that he was considered too good a workman to live, and was, in fact, taken and tragically shot at twelve o'clock that same day -- another instance of the untoward fate which so often attends dogs and other philosophers who follow out a train of reasoning to its logical conclusion, and attempt perfectly consistent conduct in a world made up so largely of compromise.


JuliaM said...

So, we can't keep the violent and the insane and the incorrigible behind bars for long periods - because its against their human rights, we havent got the prison space, yadda yadda yadda - but we can if they just keep taking their clothes off?

Laban said...

I think the Scots have a more robust approach to this sort of thing than the English. And being an Englishman probably isn't doing him any favours either.

Foxy Brown said...

"...being an Englishman probably isn't doing him any favours either.

Ahhh, that wonderful and endangered species of the truly batty and endearing English eccentric.

Dead Dog Bounce said...

I'm not sure how much it costs to house a man in prison. However, it has got to be more expensive than sticking him in a prison van and running him down to wherever he lives.

And that ignores the cost of fighting whatever litigation he gets involved in, and also ignores the non-zero probability that he might even win.

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