Some turns of phrase make total sense. Others don’t. Prison Officers tend to like the ones that don’t.
One example I’ve heard a lot lately is ‘where there’s smoke there’s fire’. Except, of course, that’s rubbish on absolutely every level. If you take it literally, it’s simply wrong. Cigarettes aren’t on fire. Smouldering maybe, but not on fire. Yet the fact that they ‘smoke’ is the whole point!
So, OK, maybe it makes sense on a metaphorical level then, right? Nope. To say where there’s smoke there’s fire is like saying that whenever anyone says anything about you, anything at all, it has to be true. Well doesn’t that mean there’s no such thing as a lie or a liar? Unless of course someone actually calls you a liar. Then, since where there’s smoke there’s fire, they must be telling the truth and there is such a thing as a lie after all. In fact, you should probably check your pants because where there’s smoke…
Yet Prison Officers seem to love parroting that absurd line at anyone they can. No sooner had I been accused of being involved in trouble than I heard one of them saying “Where there’s smoke.” Innocent until proven guilty? Not in prison. Here you aren’t even guilty until proven innocent. It’s worse than that. You’re guilty until a better scapegoat comes along.
But then actual justice isn’t much part of this justice system, so why should actual guilt have anything to do with being found guilty or sense have anything to do with common sense?
Last month The Sun ran a story on how 1,200 lifers have been moved to open prisons alongside the heading “Lag Lunacy”. They wrote “You’d think someone would have twigged: if you want to keep serious offenders inside, it’s probably not such a great idea to put them in an open prison.”
The thing is, this just demonstrates The Sun’s own lunacy. The only way to cut the skyrocketing prison population, which The Sun frequently criticises, is to release people. So the point is that we don’t want to keep these offenders inside. We want to prepare them for a safe release. And that means open prisons need to provide a go between.
I’d have thought that that was really simple logic that even writers at The Sun could understand, but apparently not.