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Friday, July 04, 2008

Make the punishment fit the crime

After this, and this, I begin to think about about the return, not only of capital punishment, but the gibbet. I really never thought I'd get to this stage; but I never thought society would, either.


RobW said...


hatfield girl said...

I cannot think you mean this S; but then I cannot think about these two incidents at all and reach any explanation other than an insanity that is associated with actions committed in states of war. Civil society not extending to New Cross and Great Yarmouth sends the mind scurrying towards unique event, madman, but it isn't so. People have been shot and knifed in their beds, at the doors to their houses, going shopping, on the way to work, at school, on the tube, ...the list goes on and on.
I have wondered if some religious order for the permanent incarceration of such criminals might be founded. The surveillance of those excluded until death from the company of others would require the mental toughness and disciplines that go with enclosed orders.

Nick Drew said...

in one's nightmares one might imagine that the difference between the coming recession and earlier, 20th C examples, will be the complete absence of social restraint

one can only tremble

and yes, capital punishment will surely be back on the agenda

(though my experience as a juror leads me to suspect there would rarely be convictions if the rope awaited)

Sackerson said...

HG: not sure what's wrong with gibbeting, it's not a torture. Bit smelly and unsightly, but thought-provoking, one would hope.

As to why all this is happening, the airbrushing out of religion and "judgmental" moral teaching from both mainstream education (other than as mildly interesting ancient history cum sociology) and maninstream media means that the vacuum is filled, not by universal socialist bonhomie, but (a) religious extremism, or (b) plain, self-centred, worldly-wise evil. If we are not taught (correctly or otherwise) that there is to be a settling of accounts in another life, then all that deters a vicious criminal now is the probability of capture, and the severity of punishment.

Nick: in support of your point, Fischer's book notes a correlation between the latter part of an inflation wave (which hits the poor worst) with social and family breakdown. As to trial by jury, it's certainly flawed, though I did once serve as a juror and I can tell you that the prejudgment can go either way. I can only hope that nobody I love or like ever comes to the dock innocent.

Sackerson said...

HG: do you think that evil, as an organizing principle, exists?

hatfield girl said...

Evil is individual in its origin. Certainly it can then be underwritten by others corrupted into its service, developed and extended, elaborated into an ideology and encultured. After which its enforcement begins to draw in more and more support as the apparatus for its continuance is put in place. So, yes, S, it can be an organising principle.

Social scientists of various breeds used to seek an identifying characteristic of humanity that sets us off from all the rest of creation. The capacity for evil is unique to us - language, use of tools, prescience, self awareness .... all are found in other species. Evil is ours alone. And each one of us is capable of an individual, technicolour production, unique to our own nature and proclivities. Then some of us set about propagating it.

pej said...

This are monstrous crimes and should obviously make anybody sick.

I still think at in the UK and in the US, the same causes are bringing the same consequences.

I don't think making the punishment as extreme as the crime will solve any of the problems (as in the US, the death penalty didn't bring the crime rate any lower...)

Anonymous said...

pej: Don't have time to find any links but I recall that even the Beeb was forced to admit that the re-introduction of the death penalty in the US seemed to have had the effect of reducing the murder rate significantly.

I think my youthful concern for people wrongly convicted of murder is now outweighed by years of experience of a corrupt criminal justice system that can't seem to keep killers in gaol for more than ten years and a growing rate of violent crime.

Murderers, rapists and child molestors - hang them all I say. There is a hill in North Devon called "Great Hangman" where there used to be a gibbet in plain view for all to see. I'd love to see Ian Huntley swinging from such a gibbet. I bet people would come from miles around to see such a thing. Time to bring back some fire and brimstone religion too. Not everyone can intellectualise themselves into morality and tofu like Richard Dawkins. Keep the message simple.