26 JANUARY 1962, Page 11


SLR,—Your footnote to the correspondence 'One for the Morgue' (Spectator, January 5) contains five ex- cellent examples of 'double-think' in seven lines.

(1) Is it contended that the true test of whether an offence is a crime or otherwise is the sub- jective one of the criminal himself? Many who commit incest would be amazed if it were suggested that they were committing a criminal offence. The fact that they do not think so presumably does not make it any the less a crime.

(2) 'Theft is recognised as a criminal activity by thieves.' Many thieves do not consider them- selves anything other than personal property redistributors. The fact that drivers under the influence may not recognise their offence as a crime cannot possibly affect the fact that it is a crime.

(3) 'They are often unaware of their condition.' This cannot possibly be either a defence to the crime or an answer to the crime not being a crime. 'I was drunk' is a defence only— (a) Where the drunkenness was induced in- voluntarily;

(b) Where an element of the charge is that the defendant acted intentionally and was so drunk that he could not have formed the necessary intention.

(4) A man overcome whilst driving a car may not know that his friends had substituted a vintage champagne for his lemonade, but he should know that be had become unfit to drive.

(5) 'The law is so extensively broken that it is not reinforced by moral sanctions.' The novel view that the more often a crime is com- mitted the less criminal does it become is one which has not yet been advanced by the most

. optimistic of defending advocates.

Finally, in an attempt to meet the whole of your footnote in one question: What of the thief who repeatedly steals motor-cars and drives them under the influence of alcohol?

Brent House, Polperro, Cornwall