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The Punishing Agenda of the Anti-Punishment Movement
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Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones. Photograph: Metropolitan Police/PA

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On November 29, 2019, a man now called the London Bridge terrorist slaughtered British student Jack Merritt.

While the cutthroat has been named for a famous London landmark; his victim has been all but forgotten.

The killer’s family was quick to condemn the London Bridge terrorist’s actions.

The family of his victim—not so much.

David Merritt, the late lad’s dad, got busy condemning those who wish to condemn that killer and his ilk to life in a cell.

By December 2, Merritt the elder was already penning op-eds about clemency and leniency for criminals like the man who murdered his son.

Such minute-made forgiveness would have been Jack’s wish, asserted Merritt senior rather presumptuously—for how can the living speak for the dead?

David Merritt, then, proceeded to minimize what was murder with malice aforethought, by dismissing what his son’s killer did as a mere “tragic incident.”

Just how obscene is the progressive mindset can be gleaned from what Mr. Merritt wrote:

“If Jack could comment on his death – and the tragic incident on Friday 29 November – he would be livid. We would see him ticking it over in his mind before a word was uttered between us. Jack would understand the political timing with visceral clarity.

He would be seething at his death, and his life, being used to perpetuate an agenda of hate that he gave his everything fighting against. … What Jack would want from this is for all of us to walk through the door he has booted down, in his black Doc Martens.

That door opens up a world where we do not lock up and throw away the key. Where we do not give indeterminate sentences … Where we do not slash prison budgets, and where we focus on rehabilitation not revenge.” [Emphasis added.]

Anti-punishment ideologues like Merritt, incorrectly and condescendingly conflate punishment with “hate” and vengeance, and justice with restitution and “rehabilitation.”

They typically treat us to facile flimflam such as that the desire for vengeance cannot become the foundation of jurisprudence. By this verbal manipulation, these ideologues disingenuously advance a definition of justice that precludes incarceration and instead equates that object with restitution and rehabilitation alone.

Compared to David Merritt’s woke sentiments, the family of the London-Bridge Killer was mundane in its proper and civilized expiation:

“We are saddened and shocked by what Usman has done,” said the family. “We totally condemn his actions and we wish to express our condolences to the families of the victims that have died and wish a speedy recovery to all of the injured.”

But there was apparently no need to apologize, Mr. and Mrs. Khan. Speaking for his dead son, David Merritt appears to have already made peace with Jack’s ripper.

In their extreme versions, anti-punishment ideologues like David Merritt often plump for complete penal abolition.

Driven by parental and pedagogic progressivism, Jack, of blessed memory, had “devoted his energy to the purpose of a “pioneering program” called “Learning Together,” which aims “to bring students from university and prisons together to share their unique perspectives on justice.”

The imperative to offer up young lives to this or the other manifestation of Moloch is a progressive impulse—an obscene one, at that.

If young Merritt’s murder proves anything it is that Cambridge University’s social-justice outreach, “Learning Together,” is a costly indulgence, as Jack was murdered on the job.

More generally, the movement for restorative justice holds that problems plaguing the criminal justice system are reason enough to abolish it. Oddly, the movement’s position is starkly utilitarian, and bereft of principle:

Incarceration, assert proponents of “no-fault” forgiveness, doesn’t reduce rates of re-offense and doesn’t bring back the dead. Ergo, abolish it we must and heal the criminal in the community. After all, responsibility for individual evil actions lies really with “society.” Justice, say the activists, is therefore best sought by a redistribution of wealth and resources.

But, contrary to such pinko propaganda, our prisons aren’t loaded with choir boys.

Usman Khan was no victim of the system (although he claimed to have been fat-shamed or bullied for nurturing a prison paunch. Boo hoo). Rather, it was Jack Merritt who was the victim of a system that had automatically released a man with murder on his mind on a kind of meritless-reprieve scheme, and despite the man’s vow to do violence.

When just a teen, the killer plotted to attack the London Stock Exchange. He, then, fooled those around him by feigning remorse and a desire to reintegrate into British society.

From the dizzying heights of Platonic theorizing, libertarian anti-incarceration theorists typically point out quite correctly that crimes are committed against individuals and not against the amorphous entity called “society.” Solutions, they say, should, therefore, focus on making criminals pay restitution to their victims.

Here on terra firma, the prosaic fact is, however, that when more dangerous offenders are incarcerated, fewer innocent individuals suffer.

When fewer violent criminals are apprehended, more innocent individuals are harmed.

If innocent individuals are incarcerated—a horrible thing against which jurist William Blackstone railed, in 1769, saying “the law holds that it is better that 10 guilty persons escape, than that 1 innocent person be convicted”—they (and not “society”) are harmed.

Although I would not argue against compelling criminals to do penance shaped by their victims, some libertarian anarchists want to see punishment replaced by a system of financial restitution.

But in cases (and there are many) where criminals can’t remotely repay victims for the harm done (especially in violent crimes), this means the consequences to the criminal won’t be remotely proportionate. In effect, by rejecting proportionate punishment for what is usually disproportionately paltry “restitution,” libertarian abolitionists are endorsing systematic injustice.


At least among libertarians, the cause du jour should not be to reduce the involvement of the state at any costs, if it means freeing guilty offenders. Rather, it should be to reduce prison population by freeing innocent people whose activities, lawful by natural-law standards, the state has criminalized.

Whether punishment makes people feel good, whether it reforms the criminal or safeguards the public is immaterial, although I would argue that a society with a moral code is safer in the long run than one without it.

Punishment is a public declaration of moral standards. It is an extension of natural law. Descend into the anti-incarceration activist’s amoral abyss, and you abolish the very fabric of our ethical tradition.

Fortunately, David Merritt’s meritless advocacy for a man who swore to murder again is mute. The killer was dispatched, his descent into hell hastened by the city of London’s police force.

Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She’s the author of Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook & Gab. Latest on YouTube: “How Democracy Made Us Dumb.

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  1. David Merritt’s thinking is all wrong. People should be able to live their lives in safety from violence-prone criminals. If certain people cannot control their anger or their violent tendencies, they should be removed from society. They should be locked up. The longer they are incarcerated, the longer they can’t hurt anyone (at least outside of prison). Incarcerate them into old age, when they’re too frail to cause harm. Even if David Merritt can speak for his son Jack, neither of them can speak for me. I hope he reads this.

  2. both Merrits reaped what they sowed.

    speaking of which, why is the Issacsohn-Mercer,

    who played an active role in destroying White rule in S. Afrika,

    still living and bloviating in a nominally White country? It’s

    long past time for Ilana to make aliyah.

  3. I recall being at a conference in about 1981, where one of the speakers was talking about motivation through positive/negative re-enforcement. He drifted into criminals, how many of them were in very dark places and were truly dangerous societal misfits. His solution was to build a camp in the remote north of the Canadian woodlands far from any road or population. No road, no guards, no fences. The camp would be supplied with food and water, then prisoners taken in by helicopter and left to their own devices. He noted that the summers would be full of biting bugs like mosquitoes, black flies and horse flies, and the winters between 30-40 below zero. The motivation was survival. All of their energy would be spent on surviving. If they wanted to kill each other, they had to factor in how that affected the ability to survive.
    I have spoken to prison guards who have told me stories about those living in dark spaces. Literally everything they pick up is a weapon: pencils, bed springs, spoons, soft drink containers (especially aluminum), it doesn’t matter, these people will turn it into a weapon and attack someone.
    Idiots like David Merritt live in the land of love, trust and pixie dust. The people in dark places, like the one who killed his son, are never sorry, and would never earnestly ask to be forgiven. They relish their ability to inflict pain and suffering on others. They belong in a camp in Canada’s far north.

  4. At least among libertarians, the cause du jour should not be to reduce the involvement of the state at any costs, if it means freeing guilty offenders. Rather, it should be to reduce prison population by freeing innocent people whose activities, lawful by natural-law standards, the state has criminalized.

    You don’t have to be a Libertarian to understand this. There are Waaaaay to many people in the gulag who should not be there and Waaaaay to many who should be incarcerated but are not. When justice is served it is an accident.

    I don’t care about vengeance. I don’t care about rehabilitation. I care that violent criminals are separated from society. And that pot smokers and people who cannot pay their traffic fine are released.

    Using your son’s murder as a platform for woke virtue signalling is about as creepy as it gets. But I’m okay with non violent creeps.

    • Agree: Kali
    • Replies: @animalogic
    , @SMK
  5. @WorkingClass

    “I care that violent criminals are separated from society. And that pot smokers and people who cannot pay their traffic fine are released.”
    The State’s relentless pursuit of any minor deviation, it’s hatred of any common person’s “loop hole” & it’s also relentless desire to spider-like suck dry the average citizen thru a web of fines has opened the whole “Justice” system up to questions of legitimacy.
    This often corrupt system lends itself to to bizarre ideas such as forgiving your son’s murderer.

  6. Realist says:

    Unfortunately the son of god damn idiot like David Merritt never had much of a chance anyway.

  7. Muggles says:

    It is hard to know who is worse: violent criminals or those who make excuses and rationalizations for their behavior.

    The former have no morality. The latter proclaim a totally false morality where evil dominates good.

    Loving your enemy is far easier (and safer) when your enemy is safely locked up for good.

    Criminals who choose the “outlaw” lifestyle should be subjected to what that word actually means: an outlaw is someone who chooses to live outside the law, and therefore has no valid claim to protection by the law. Hence in the original usage, outlaws could be robbed, killed, imprisoned, etc. without any further questions.

    Today the selfish outlaw mindset wants to behave as a feral animal but upon being stopped, wants to claim every possible legal protection and right available. Once determined fairly as guilty (or on the run) outlaws deserve what they chose for others. No tears, no regrets, no sympathy for the devil.

  8. Yup, we’re back to the old Hebrew tradition of child sacrifice.

  9. The cuckdad is proof some Whites can’t be helped.

    When will Europe be restoring the death penalty? When the fucking ragheads take over completely and it’s used only on Whites?

  10. SMK says: • Website

    In the inverted moral univserce of white leftist suicidal pathology, David Merrick doesn’t hate the hatred of the Muslim terrorist who murdered his son but he hates the “hatred” of those whites who hate the Muslim terrorist who murdered his son. His derangement and that of millions of other whites in the UK explains the presence of millions of Muslims and the acts of terrorism and epidemic of acid and knife attacks and Rotherham, Telford, Oxford, etc. The UK is finished.

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