Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

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Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Sep 22, 2009 3:00 am UTC

I'm throwing this up here by request from someone else and because I've wanted to hammer out this thought in clear language for a while anyway.

There's an ongoing notion in American culture that when you do something bad, you deserve something bad. If I kill you, I deserve to be, in turn, killed. Or incarcerated. Or, in some basic fundamental way, inconvenienced. I think this is a ridiculous notion; our punitive system strikes me as borderline fetishistic. We throttle our criminals with whatever punishments we feel morally comfortable with (rather than risk throwing away our 'moral superiority' by, say, torturing them) for what often feels like the sake of merely demonstrating how unlike criminals we ourselves are.

The criminal system of an enlightened society should pursue only three purposes: 1) To offer victims of crime closure and compensation. 2) To protect others from being victimized. 3) To rehabilitate those criminals who can be rehabilitated.

To this end, it might be necessary to imprison criminals - perhaps this is the only way to protect their victims. It might be necessary to kill criminals - perhaps, even when imprisoned, they will find ways to victimize others. But there is no way in which you can become 'deserving' of abuse of any kind; there is no way in which you forsake your human rights to not be tortured, killed, or abused. We violate these rights only as a function of protecting others from you. You do not 'give them up'; we violate them temporarily because if we don't, someone else's rights will be violated.

What I'm getting at here is that the notion that criminals 'deserve' to be punished--rather than must be punished, as a function of either prevention or closure for their victims--is barbaric. People don't deserve anything. There are problems; we try to solve them. Doing harm to others because they did things we disapprove of is not problem solving--it's pornography.

Anyone disagree?
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby sje46 » Tue Sep 22, 2009 3:48 am UTC

I don't disagree at all. I just get really, really sick of when people emotionally charge the debate by asking me how I would feel if someone murdered my children. Would I want the criminal to fry? Probably. But is this the right thing to do? No, I don't think it is. They try to make it sound like I'm a horrible person for not wanting the person who hurt my children to be in horrible pain.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby zug » Tue Sep 22, 2009 3:52 am UTC

I think you missed one purpose of criminal punishment, which is to serve as a deterrent for those considering the commission of crime. I don't intend to comment on that further until you clarify your stance on it, though.

I think I have as much difficulty understanding this statement
the notion that criminals 'deserve' to be punished--rather than must be punished, as a function of either prevention or closure for their victims--is barbaric. People don't deserve anything.

as you do understanding the contrary philosophy, "An eye for an eye." Why shouldn't we remove your eye if you remove someone else's? You say it's barbaric, but the original crime was barbaric, too. How is this unfair? It seems, from a utilitarian standpoint, to be the best solution.

As humans we are intelligent enough (in all but the rarest of insanity pleas) to accept responsibility for the actions we take. An eye for an eye mentality seems, to me, to rationally follow from adhering to the golden rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you), which makes up a great part of my own personal morality. Do you feel the golden rule is barbaric? Why shouldn't violations of such be punished as such? This also solves the deterrence issue. Fewer people would shoot at others if they knew they'd be shot upon conviction.

This may amount to more of a personal moral construct than a debatable question, but I'm still curious.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:01 am UTC

sje46 wrote:I don't disagree at all. I just get really, really sick of when people emotionally charge the debate by asking me how I would feel if someone murdered my children. Would I want the criminal to fry? Probably. But is this the right thing to do? No, I don't think it is. They try to make it sound like I'm a horrible person for not wanting the person who hurt my children to be in horrible pain.
One of the things I have yet to parse is whether or not second-hand victims (loved ones of murdered victims, for instance) should be compensated for their loss. In the case of parents, I would say yes; the loss of a child represents a tangible loss of emotional, financial, and temporal investments. It seems as if some sort of compensation for that loss would be sensible.

Compensation and closure are, I think, the weakest points of my stance. How far are we willing to go to grant victims closure? If a victim wants their abuser murdered - if that's the only way they'll feel compensated, if that's the only way they'll feel safe at night - are we willing to go that far?
zug wrote:I think you missed one purpose of criminal punishment, which is to serve as a deterrent for those considering the commission of crime. I don't intend to comment on that further until you clarify your stance on it, though.
I parse that as protecting future victims - it's a form of prevention.
as you do understanding the contrary philosophy, "An eye for an eye." Why shouldn't we remove your eye if you remove someone else's? You say it's barbaric, but the original crime was barbaric, too. How is this unfair? It seems, from a utilitarian standpoint, to be the best solution.
Only in the sense that it convinces people not to remove other people's eyes. I don't oppose eye-for-an-eye methodology when it works toward the three primary goals - prevention, compensation, rehabilitation - but if it doesn't get us where we want to go, throw it out.

What I'm railing against here is the notion that criminals have to be punished. If we could successfully fulfill those three goals - prevention, compensation, rehabilitation - by coddling our criminals to the point of absurdity... There are many, many people who would oppose that notion. Not because of its effectiveness, but because there's this overarching desire we have for 'reciprocity'; if you take something from me, I must take something from you. Until that happens, the equation isn't 'equal'.

I'm calling bullshit on that. What's important isn't that criminals are punished; what's important is that victims are compensated, future victims are protected, and criminals become useful members of society. Whatever gets us there is fine; it's just that punishment has become the ends rather than the means. The moment a punishment stops being effective is the moment we should stop using it. But I feel like we've become so intensely focused on punishment itself that we've forgotten that punishment is not a goal--it is only a way to reach a goal.
Last edited by The Great Hippo on Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:03 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Lord Aurora » Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:02 am UTC

What exactly is "closure" for the victim and/or their families? If closure is letting them see that the Bad Person has had Bad Things done to them, (and I see no other way to define closure), then even closure is "pornography" or "fetishism."
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:06 am UTC

Lord Aurora wrote:What exactly is "closure" for the victim and/or their families? If closure is letting them see that the Bad Person has had Bad Things done to them, (and I see no other way to define closure), then even closure is "pornography" or "fetishism."
That's more or less what I was saying in response to sje; yes, it's pornographic to grant victims and the families of victims the opportunity to see criminals punished. I'm not sure if it's the sort of pornography that we should allow; on one hand, any criminal system that doesn't address the needs of the victims is ignoring the most important person in any crime - on the other hand, I'm uncomfortable with the notion of punishing criminals only for the sake of the victims. This is one part of my stance that I haven't really completely solidified.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Lord Aurora » Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:22 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Lord Aurora wrote:What exactly is "closure" for the victim and/or their families? If closure is letting them see that the Bad Person has had Bad Things done to them, (and I see no other way to define closure), then even closure is "pornography" or "fetishism."
That's more or less what I was saying in response to sje; yes, it's pornographic to grant victims and the families of victims the opportunity to see criminals punished. I'm not sure if it's the sort of pornography that we should allow; on one hand, any criminal system that doesn't address the needs of the victims is ignoring the most important person in any crime - on the other hand, I'm uncomfortable with the notion of punishing criminals only for the sake of the victims. This is one part of my stance that I haven't really completely solidified.
And I'm more than comfortable with punishing criminals for the sake of the victims. (Depending on the crime---which is something US criminal law does a reasonable job of, so I won't get into it. Suffice it to say that stealing a candy bar does not require you to be punished for the victim's sake, but rape most certainly does.)

The fact that you're wishy-washy on your "punishing for the sake of the victims" decision indicates to me that this is really just a semantic argument. You're drawing a very clear line in the sand---on one side, the phrase "deserves to be punished," on the other, the phrase "punishment required for Reason X." In my estimation, they both mean the same thing, because if you are being punished for Reason X, you caused Reason X to be an issue, and yes, you DESERVE to suffer the consequences for making it an issue.

Do you believe that anyone ever earns the "you deserve thing Z" (I say "earns" because clearly you think we "deserve" the right to life, etc. and those aren't rights we earn)? For example, if a child does well, does he or she deserve praise? Do you define "deserve" as a word that can, according to your moral code, ONLY be applied to a situation where something good is deserved?
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby sje46 » Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:34 am UTC

zug wrote:I think you missed one purpose of criminal punishment, which is to serve as a deterrent for those considering the commission of crime. I don't intend to comment on that further until you clarify your stance on it, though.

I think I have as much difficulty understanding this statement
the notion that criminals 'deserve' to be punished--rather than must be punished, as a function of either prevention or closure for their victims--is barbaric. People don't deserve anything.

as you do understanding the contrary philosophy, "An eye for an eye." Why shouldn't we remove your eye if you remove someone else's? You say it's barbaric, but the original crime was barbaric, too. How is this unfair? It seems, from a utilitarian standpoint, to be the best solution.

As humans we are intelligent enough (in all but the rarest of insanity pleas) to accept responsibility for the actions we take. An eye for an eye mentality seems, to me, to rationally follow from adhering to the golden rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you), which makes up a great part of my own personal morality. Do you feel the golden rule is barbaric? Why shouldn't violations of such be punished as such? This also solves the deterrence issue. Fewer people would shoot at others if they knew they'd be shot upon conviction.

This may amount to more of a personal moral construct than a debatable question, but I'm still curious.

I find that very difficult to conciliate with utilitarianism. Utilitarianism values everyone's happiness equally...including sociopaths. Would simply stabbing a stabber increase happiness? How do you know that a lesser punishment won't get him to stop? Perhaps psychotherapy and general rehabilitation will let him realize he is causing a lot of people harm, and will, in fact, increase his own happiness.
Also, if I stole your guitar, maybe I really won't care if you steal mine (along with you guitar back).

Also, I think you may have a misunderstanding of the Golden Rule. Jesus preached the Golden Rule along with "turn the other cheek". He said that we have to forgive those that harm us, and not to harm them back. Tell me, would you want someone to stab you for stabbing someone?
The Great Hippo wrote:One of the things I have yet to parse is whether or not second-hand victims (loved ones of murdered victims, for instance) should be compensated for their loss. In the case of parents, I would say yes; the loss of a child represents a tangible loss of emotional, financial, and temporal investments. It seems as if some sort of compensation for that loss would be sensible.

Compensation and closure are, I think, the weakest points of my stance. How far are we willing to go to grant victims closure? If a victim wants their abuser murdered - if that's the only way they'll feel compensated, if that's the only way they'll feel safe at night - are we willing to go that far?
They should be compensated? I don't know about that. Financially? Why do you suppose that the child is a financial investment? Children don't normally exist just to support their parents when their parents get old. Temporal? Nothing (usually) forces people to have children. Child rearing is a voluntary project. And emotional? Perhaps the government should offer free counselling for those who lose loved ones, but not because the begrieved have invested so much emotion in the child. Again, the child was a voluntary project.

I feel for the family of the victims, but why aren't we feeling for the family of the guilty? Few people want to see their son die, even if their son did kill five people in a lunatic killing spree. Does all of this hold up for war too? If we didn't have a big government, is it moral to kill the people who kill the people we love? Because this is how war starts.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Sep 22, 2009 5:14 am UTC

Lord Aurora wrote:And I'm more than comfortable with punishing criminals for the sake of the victims. (Depending on the crime---which is something US criminal law does a reasonable job of, so I won't get into it. Suffice it to say that stealing a candy bar does not require you to be punished for the victim's sake, but rape most certainly does.)
Is it for their sake, or the sake of your own moral indignation? Consider this carefully, because it's key: Are you happy to see rapists punished for the sake of their victims, or is it because by being happy to see rapists punished, you distance yourself from rapists?

If your concern for punishing criminals is truly for the sake of the victim and only the victim, what do you think we should do when criminals kill people who have no loved ones to grieve for them? Should the punishment be lesser? Or should we keep the same punishment for killing hermits as we do for killing those with families - and admit that we aren't doing this for the sake of victims, but rather for the sake of our own moral validation? This is why I take issue with punishing criminals for the sake of victims.
Lord Aurora wrote:The fact that you're wishy-washy on your "punishing for the sake of the victims" decision indicates to me that this is really just a semantic argument. You're drawing a very clear line in the sand---on one side, the phrase "deserves to be punished," on the other, the phrase "punishment required for Reason X." In my estimation, they both mean the same thing, because if you are being punished for Reason X, you caused Reason X to be an issue, and yes, you DESERVE to suffer the consequences for making it an issue.
What if X can be accomplished without punishing you? Do you still 'deserve' to be punished? What if we can accomplish X ten times faster by refraining from punishing you? Shall we still punish you because you deserve it? Is the mechanism of 'deserving' more important than the mechanism of preventing crimes?

For instance: If we found out tomorrow that coddling the fuck out of criminals actually rehabilitates them like crazy, would you still contend that we should punish them because they somehow deserve it? Would you, in short, sacrifice the welfare and safety of victims for your own desire to see the wicked punished rather than made fat on caviar?

The notion of criminals deserving punishment is an obstacle to solving the problem of criminals. I parse it as something terrible, because there are lives at stake - and putting our own moral indignation in the way of solving those problems is something I see as selfish and narcissistic.
Lord Aurora wrote:Do you believe that anyone ever earns the "you deserve thing Z" (I say "earns" because clearly you think we "deserve" the right to life, etc. and those aren't rights we earn)? For example, if a child does well, does he or she deserve praise? Do you define "deserve" as a word that can, according to your moral code, ONLY be applied to a situation where something good is deserved?
The only thing we deserve are our basic fundamental rights. A child who does well will be rewarded with a job well done (or not, depending on their circumstances). I feel no particular compulsion to create rewards for people who have put their best foot forward anymore than I feel a compulsion to create penalties for people who have put their worst foot forward. Rather, I prefer to create circumstances where, by putting your best foot forward, you will reward yourself (creating equality of opportunity, for instance - which I do think everyone deserves).

And yeah, I would tell the kid 'good job', but only because I like acknowledging people when they do a good job. I don't think doing a good job means you deserve to be told you did a good job. We are not entitled to appreciation.
sje46 wrote:They should be compensated? I don't know about that. Financially? Why do you suppose that the child is a financial investment? Children don't normally exist just to support their parents when their parents get old.
Maybe I'm crossing some terms here, but not all financial investments have the end-goal of profit. I buy a boat because I like to ride boats; I have a kid because I want the joy of raising a kid. Both involve an expenditure of money; if you destroy my boat, it's reasonable to assume you'll have to compensate me for my investment in that boat. If you kill my child, is it not reasonable to assume you'll have to compensate me for the money I used to raise that child?
sje46 wrote:I feel for the family of the victims, but why aren't we feeling for the family of the guilty?
That might be fair, and pushes me more toward the 'closure for the victim cannot be an important part of the punitive system' camp. Because we end up with stupid situations where one person knew the victim very well, and the killer has an entire family who loves them - so do we weigh the concerns of a family versus the concerns of one person? These are the sort of value judgments that we shouldn't be making.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Adalwolf » Tue Sep 22, 2009 5:46 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I'm throwing this up here by request from someone else and because I've wanted to hammer out this thought in clear language for a while anyway.

There's an ongoing notion in American culture that when you do something bad, you deserve something bad. If I kill you, I deserve to be, in turn, killed. Or incarcerated. Or, in some basic fundamental way, inconvenienced. I think this is a ridiculous notion; our punitive system strikes me as borderline fetishistic. We throttle our criminals with whatever punishments we feel morally comfortable with (rather than risk throwing away our 'moral superiority' by, say, torturing them) for what often feels like the sake of merely demonstrating how unlike criminals we ourselves are.

The criminal system of an enlightened society should pursue only three purposes: 1) To offer victims of crime closure and compensation. 2) To protect others from being victimized. 3) To rehabilitate those criminals who can be rehabilitated.

To this end, it might be necessary to imprison criminals - perhaps this is the only way to protect their victims. It might be necessary to kill criminals - perhaps, even when imprisoned, they will find ways to victimize others. But there is no way in which you can become 'deserving' of abuse of any kind; there is no way in which you forsake your human rights to not be tortured, killed, or abused. We violate these rights only as a function of protecting others from you. You do not 'give them up'; we violate them temporarily because if we don't, someone else's rights will be violated.

What I'm getting at here is that the notion that criminals 'deserve' to be punished--rather than must be punished, as a function of either prevention or closure for their victims--is barbaric. People don't deserve anything. There are problems; we try to solve them. Doing harm to others because they did things we disapprove of is not problem solving--it's pornography.

Anyone disagree?


Umm, yes. I disagree with all my heart.

If someone rapes and kills someone in care for that person deserves to die. Now, that does not mean they deserve to be tortured, per se, but getting beaten up and then strung up from a tree or something along those lines? Yes.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Sep 22, 2009 6:04 am UTC

Adalwolf wrote:Umm, yes. I disagree with all my heart.

If someone rapes and kills someone in care for that person deserves to die. Now, that does not mean they deserve to be tortured, per se, but getting beaten up and then strung up from a tree or something along those lines? Yes.
And if doing this leads to a violent culture of rape and murder, we'll keep doing it so you can feel better about yourself - because we value validating your grief over protecting future victims?

'Justice' that involves the brutish murder of criminals - outside of the motivation of deterrence - is narcissistic. By killing someone because they 'deserve to die', you make a clear statement that this isn't about the victims - it's about you. It's about your desire to validate your own moral indignation, your own grief - and not about preventing rape, murder, and abuse.

Which is, in some respects, fine. No one's saying you have to care about protecting people from rape, murder, and abuse. But we should call it what it is. If you're going to punish someone to satisfy your own emotional needs... Well, you're doing it for you. Not the victim, not future victims, not society - just yourself. It's about your gratification.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Zcorp » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:47 am UTC

I think this groupthink comes from a learned helplessness in relation to the government and ruling class. Bad actions are most closely associated with illegal actions to most Americans I've spoken to. Yet very few of them are aware of any issues behind illegality of those actions, less of them take the time to ponder if those issues are realistic, legitimate or assist society.

By crime are you talking quite specifically of significant theft, murder, assault, rape or are you also including more petty laws like traffic infractions?
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby ltgreatsocks » Tue Sep 22, 2009 10:03 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Adalwolf wrote:Umm, yes. I disagree with all my heart.

If someone rapes and kills someone in care for that person deserves to die. Now, that does not mean they deserve to be tortured, per se, but getting beaten up and then strung up from a tree or something along those lines? Yes.
And if doing this leads to a violent culture of rape and murder, we'll keep doing it so you can feel better about yourself - because we value validating your grief over protecting future victims?

'Justice' that involves the brutish murder of criminals - outside of the motivation of deterrence - is narcissistic. By killing someone because they 'deserve to die', you make a clear statement that this isn't about the victims - it's about you. It's about your desire to validate your own moral indignation, your own grief - and not about preventing rape, murder, and abuse.

Which is, in some respects, fine. No one's saying you have to care about protecting people from rape, murder, and abuse. But we should call it what it is. If you're going to punish someone to satisfy your own emotional needs... Well, you're doing it for you. Not the victim, not future victims, not society - just yourself. It's about your gratification.


Although what you're saying does make sense you still can't really tell someone why they think something. Everything you've said so far makes sense, but I still can't shake the feeling that someone who completely destroys another person's life, like a rapist for example, should be executed. I've never been raped and no one very close to me has been raped to my knowledge, but from what I understand about it, it sounds like the victim's life is just completely destroyed. Disregarding all the semantics and physchological shit I think that violent criminals need to be punished. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that the current U.S. criminal system does anything towards rehabilitation. I think rehabilitating the criminals is the most important job of the system. Which is why I think when someone goes to prison for murder, then murders more people in jail, someone needs some hardcore rehab immediately.

For instance: If we found out tomorrow that coddling the fuck out of criminals actually rehabilitates them like crazy, would you still contend that we should punish them because they somehow deserve it? Would you, in short, sacrifice the welfare and safety of victims for your own desire to see the wicked punished rather than made fat on caviar?


Hells yes.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Naurgul » Tue Sep 22, 2009 10:30 am UTC

I agree completely with Hippo's point. I wouldn't say it's only an American culture thing, it's probably a by-product of the evolution of all human societies.

My opinion is that it all began with societies becoming conscious of the reinforcement learning mechanisms in humans. So, slowly but steadily, they incorporated rules that rewarded behaviour that comforted to the standards of society and punished ani-social behaviour in the hopes that people would learn to avoid punishment and seek reward by following the rules. So, as these rules became more and more ingrained into the psychology of the people who live in these societies, it became more and more part of what we call "the sense of moral justice". So, in peoples' minds, the original purpose is lost and all that is left is the almost ritualistic notion that criminals deserve their punishment, that it's right and anything different is madness. Now, as societies grew larger in scope, these notions became so widespread and solid in peoples' minds that today they are not regarded much differently than religious beliefs.

So yeah, I am strongly of the opinion that we should re-evaluate our mechanisms for maintaining social order and discouraging criminal behaviour in light of the advances in psychology, sociology and what-have-you.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Zamfir » Tue Sep 22, 2009 10:31 am UTC

Hippo, from your responses to Lord Aurora I get the impression that you would sort of accept "Someone who commits a crime deserves to be punished for it" as a shorthand, a heuristic that can replace more complicated and more intrinsic reasoning in most cases. So that it actually leads to right outcomes in many cases, but nor for an intrinsic reason. And so there are cases thinkable and even possible where it is no longer works a reliable shorthand where you have to rely on the deeper reasons to come to the right way of acting.

If that's more or less what you think, I can agree with it. But I wonder how many real-life situations there are where the difference becomes relevant, where the principles of compensation for the victim and protection of the population lead to an outcome that cannot be reconciled with the principle of deserved punishment. Especially if you do not take deserved punishment as literal eye-for-an-eye.

You give some examples, but they seem to underestimate in my opinion the importance of deterence. If you take the desire for deserved punishment as the psychological manisfestation of a very sensible need to deter others, the two views seem rather aligned in the far majority of situations. If coddling rapists rehabilitates them but doesn't discourage woul-be rapist, are you sure it's the right thing to only coddle?

There are sometimes examples of an amnesty for the greater good, with South Africa as the prime example. But the underlying thought is that the situation has changed so much that the particular crimes under consideration are no longer possible and that deterence is therefore useless. This is a rare occurence, and can only be dealt with on a case by case basis.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Gelsamel » Tue Sep 22, 2009 12:11 pm UTC

Well first you would have to establish how likely deterrence is in the first place.

How many people don't rape others simply because if they did they might have to go to jail? How many people don't steal simply because if they did they might have to pay a fine, get banned from a shop, or go to jail? Until you have reasoned answers to these questions and more, which evidence how helpful the aversion therapy that our "Justice" system is, you don't have much of an objection.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby JBJ » Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:28 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:What I'm railing against here is the notion that criminals have to be punished. If we could successfully fulfill those three goals - prevention, compensation, rehabilitation - by coddling our criminals to the point of absurdity... There are many, many people who would oppose that notion. Not because of its effectiveness, but because there's this overarching desire we have for 'reciprocity'; if you take something from me, I must take something from you. Until that happens, the equation isn't 'equal'.

I agree with you that those are the ideal goals of a justice system, but how can anything short of punishment can achieve the goals of prevention and rehabilitation?

Humans are still animals and still subject to positive/negative reinforcement. Reward is a much stronger reinforcement than punishment, and if applied after the commission of a crime only goes to increase the likelihood of the crime being committed again. Rehabilitation and prevention are right out the window. Therefore, criminals do have to be punished.

Edit:
I am not opposed to the removal of negative influences in pursuit of rehabilitation in place of, or along with punishment. For example, removing a person from a gang, poverty, abusive home, drug scene, etc... In fact, it would in many cases probably be far more effective for attaining those goals that just punishment alone. I just want to be clear that it's not a reward. The readjustment to a different lifestyle for the criminal could in some cases be considered a punishment in itself. Those cases would have to be evaluated individually, as I agree that punishment isn't required for all crimes, neither is rehabilitation appropriate for all.
Edit #2: Because I seem to have a case of brain fail today. When I say rehabilitation isn't appropriate for all, I mean in many cases the punishment (as a negative reinforcement) also serves as rehabilitation (i.e. scared straight).
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Chen » Tue Sep 22, 2009 5:18 pm UTC

Breaking the law needs to have some sort of negative consequence or any incentive NOT to break the law disappears. Most laws are restrictive and breaking them generally results in some sort of immediate benefit for the person breaking them. If the punishment does not outweight this benefit, it would be fairly rational to then break the law. Certainly morals come into play (I'm fairly sure the reason most people don't kill others is not just because its illegal), but people have vastly differing morals. Until we are enlightened enough to share common enough morals, breaking the law requires some sort of "punishment" to deter further acts of law-breaking. Whether you want to get semantic in whether the results of breaking the law are punishment or rather just "prevention of further crimes" it generally amounts to the same thing. Something is being imposed on the law breaker for a reason. Almost all of them will be something the law-breaker does not want to happen to them (whether jail time, councelling or whatever) so it will be a punishment.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Lord Aurora » Tue Sep 22, 2009 5:31 pm UTC

I agree with Chen. The law operates on an incentive program---you obey it and you reap the benefits of protection. You break it and you still get its protection but you are presented with other incentives (which are the opposite of incentives, which I'm too lazy to think of the word for).
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Philwelch » Tue Sep 22, 2009 6:34 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote: But there is no way in which you can become 'deserving' of abuse of any kind; there is no way in which you forsake your human rights to not be tortured, killed, or abused. We violate these rights only as a function of protecting others from you. You do not 'give them up'; we violate them temporarily because if we don't, someone else's rights will be violated.


That's a naive and question-begging view of rights.

For society to function, we have to implicitly agree not to steal each other's stuff or kill each other. If someone breaks this implicit agreement, we have to deal with them. We have to take them out of society--they've broken the rules and we can't trust them to live with us until and unless they change. "Rights" are only meaningful in this context. Those who disrespect the rights of others violate the social contract and lose their rights.

Capital punishment, in societies that can't afford life imprisonment for criminals, is simply the most efficient means to remove people from society. It's no longer popular because we are now rich enough to support criminals for their entire lifetime in prison. But when societies and circumstances don't allow the luxury of giving quarter to prisoners, it happens just as much.

All of this very pragmatic, and all of this not requiring any notion of anyone deserving anything.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby chaosspawn » Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:12 pm UTC

Let me try a different tack, that sort of moral indignation and desire to have someone punished/caught, is necessary. For society to work the way it is, third parties to crimes have to care that the criminal is caught. It's that sort of collective outrage that allows us to keep up our rules and morals.

I think it can be argued that when laws are broken, that the entire society is a victim. Because if people can get away with things we don't want to happen on a regular enough basis, it starts becoming clear that our basic social contract is failing. Society is only really bound together by people's acceptance of it, willfully imposed limitations on our actions, with the understanding that others are doing the same. When people begin acting as to undermine this paradigm they are weakening the incentive for everyone else to stay on board, so in a vague sense, yes they're destroying society. And it is in everyone's interest to keep everyone else in line. Seeing as the positive incentive is generally participation in society and the comforts/luxuries that would bring, the disincentives do need to be something we don't want. (There is the argument of reform vs. punishment, but many crimes are just a sort of weighting cost vs. benefit, and I'm not sure that that kind of thinking can really be 'reformed' out of someone.)

So I'd challenge that there's a distinct line to be drawn between outrage for self-gratification and that on behalf of society. Each seems rooted in a sense of empathy in either case. And furthermore, there does seem to be a legitimate reason to want to make a distinction between, us the members of society fulfilling their obligations and enjoying their rights, versus those who would not participate in the system.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby zug » Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:13 pm UTC

If coddling the fuck out of criminals rehabilitates them 10 times faster, I'm going to go out and become a criminal tonight because my life fucking sucks.

You see where there's a line you're crossing where deterrence is no longer a factor in the commission of criminality? If committing a crime will get me a slap on the wrist, 3 meals a day and a comfortable feather bed at night, and psychological screenings every week, I want to be a criminal! God damn! I'd be eating and sleeping way better than I am right now.

You seem to be going overboard with the mindset that revenge or harsh treatment is never justified. But I do believe there are effective and necessary deterrents, and that coddling of criminals will do less to prevent crime than our current system.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:05 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:By crime are you talking quite specifically of significant theft, murder, assault, rape or are you also including more petty laws like traffic infractions?
Petty laws, too. I don't wish to underestimate the importance of deterence - and I agree that punishing criminals is an important part of the criminal system for the role deterrence serves. However, if we remove deterrence from the equation, suddenly there is really no reason to punish criminals - only rehabilitate them.

We don't punish criminals for our sake. We punish them for the sake of potential victims in the future. To deter them from creating those victims. That's all.
Itgreatsocks wrote:I think rehabilitating the criminals is the most important job of the system. Which is why I think when someone goes to prison for murder, then murders more people in jail, someone needs some hardcore rehab immediately.
Or you could kill them. Again, I just want to make that clear: I'm not throwing out killing people as an option for solving the problem of criminals. I think that, in certain situations, it might be the best choice we have.
ltgreatsocks wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:For instance: If we found out tomorrow that coddling the fuck out of criminals actually rehabilitates them like crazy, would you still contend that we should punish them because they somehow deserve it? Would you, in short, sacrifice the welfare and safety of victims for your own desire to see the wicked punished rather than made fat on caviar?
Hells yes.
Okay, but understand the value judgment you are making: You are putting your desire for punishment above the welfare of future victims.

Edit: To be fair, I wasn't clear - this hypothetical I'm explaining (as I mention below) should have also contained the notion that, somehow, magically, coddling the fuck out of criminals would deter them. Essentially, if we could deter and rehabilitate criminals by giving them all five dollars, would you still forego this solution because of your desire to punish criminals? And if so, can you understand how this is putting your own desires above the welfare of future victims?
Naurgul wrote:I agree completely with Hippo's point. I wouldn't say it's only an American culture thing, it's probably a by-product of the evolution of all human societies.
I started this from an American-centric view because I'm most familiar with America's culture (being waist-deep in it). I'm hesitant to criticize other cultures without having a better understanding of them, but it would not surprise me to find out they're guilty of the exact same philosophy towards crime and punishment.
Zamfir wrote:Hippo, from your responses to Lord Aurora I get the impression that you would sort of accept "Someone who commits a crime deserves to be punished for it" as a shorthand, a heuristic that can replace more complicated and more intrinsic reasoning in most cases. So that it actually leads to right outcomes in many cases, but nor for an intrinsic reason. And so there are cases thinkable and even possible where it is no longer works a reliable shorthand where you have to rely on the deeper reasons to come to the right way of acting.
This is kind of the thing for me - the reason for making this entire thread - no, I don't accept that as a shorthand. I agree that it's possible for a person who thinks criminals deserve to be punished to be just as effective as a person who thinks the problem of criminality needs solving, but this efficiency is accidental. I think that believing criminals deserve to be punished colors your approach to crime and punishment, and will inevitably lead you to rejecting certain solutions or compromises to fulfill your desire to see to put that criminals are continuously punished, regardless of the advantages that you may gain from solutions that lessen that punishment in exchange for something else.

I don't think that a system that emphasized criminals as problems to be solved rather than monsters to be punished would look immensely different from our own; however, I do think that such a system would be much more efficient and produce significantly better results. I think that it would also give us a much more healthy perspective on crime.
JBJ wrote:Humans are still animals and still subject to positive/negative reinforcement. Reward is a much stronger reinforcement than punishment, and if applied after the commission of a crime only goes to increase the likelihood of the crime being committed again. Rehabilitation and prevention are right out the window. Therefore, criminals do have to be punished.
Oh, I agree - when punishment is the most effective means to deter crime, punish the fuck out of criminals. My objection is to punishment - which is only a means to an end (the prevention of crime) - becoming an end to itself (we must punish criminals because they are criminals, and criminals deserve to be punished).
Chen wrote:Breaking the law needs to have some sort of negative consequence or any incentive NOT to break the law disappears. Most laws are restrictive and breaking them generally results in some sort of immediate benefit for the person breaking them. If the punishment does not outweight this benefit, it would be fairly rational to then break the law. Certainly morals come into play (I'm fairly sure the reason most people don't kill others is not just because its illegal), but people have vastly differing morals. Until we are enlightened enough to share common enough morals, breaking the law requires some sort of "punishment" to deter further acts of law-breaking. Whether you want to get semantic in whether the results of breaking the law are punishment or rather just "prevention of further crimes" it generally amounts to the same thing. Something is being imposed on the law breaker for a reason. Almost all of them will be something the law-breaker does not want to happen to them (whether jail time, councelling or whatever) so it will be a punishment.
Lord Aurora wrote:I agree with Chen. The law operates on an incentive program---you obey it and you reap the benefits of protection. You break it and you still get its protection but you are presented with other incentives (which are the opposite of incentives, which I'm too lazy to think of the word for).
I don't think either of these disagree with my central point. I see the utility of deterrence, I don't doubt its authenticity (perhaps, as Gelsamel noted, to my detriment - I've never read any compelling evidence for the effectiveness of deterrence, I've simply long assumed that it works), and I'm all for punishing criminals if it stops criminals from victimizing people. I'm simply not for punishing criminals because they are criminals.
chaosspawn wrote:Let me try a different tack, that sort of moral indignation and desire to have someone punished/caught, is necessary. For society to work the way it is, third parties to crimes have to care that the criminal is caught. It's that sort of collective outrage that allows us to keep up our rules and morals.

I think it can be argued that when laws are broken, that the entire society is a victim. Because if people can get away with things we don't want to happen on a regular enough basis, it starts becoming clear that our basic social contract is failing.
I hadn't considered that; I don't doubt the human desire for reciprocity (our want to see those who break rules punished, even if they didn't do any harm to us) is deeply seated in the fundamentals of civilization, but I think that we could accomplish a great deal more if we ditched the notion of social vengeance as it applies to criminals. I can see what you mean in so far as excising this removing our primary motivation for turning criminals into the police, though. I'd have to think about this more.

Philwelch wrote:For society to function, we have to implicitly agree not to steal each other's stuff or kill each other. If someone breaks this implicit agreement, we have to deal with them. We have to take them out of society--they've broken the rules and we can't trust them to live with us until and unless they change. "Rights" are only meaningful in this context. Those who disrespect the rights of others violate the social contract and lose their rights.
Which rights, for how long, and to what degree? Why is depriving people of their rights wholesale a more effective practice than violating those rights temporarily (to protect other people's rights)? Especially when depriving people of their rights leads to their demonization, which makes rehabilitation (in the circumstances where rehabilitation is possible) all the more difficult?

The pragmaticism you cite is fine and well and something I approve of. The fact is that a great number of people do not approach this pragmatically. Though their actions may align with our pragmatic ends, their attitudes do not - and those attitudes will eventually interfere with our pragmatic ends (because they will wish to punish criminals even when punishing criminals accomplishes nothing).
zug wrote:You seem to be going overboard with the mindset that revenge or harsh treatment is never justified. But I do believe there are effective and necessary deterrents, and that coddling of criminals will do less to prevent crime than our current system.
Harsh treatment is justified when harsh treatment gets us where we want to go. Revenge, however, has no place in a system that is interested in serving a greater good. Revenge is an individual motivation that serves no purpose beyond personal gratification. As for deterence - I was creating a magical situation where somehow, coddling the fuck out of criminals solves all our problems (somehow it deters and rehabilitates them simultaneously). If this was somehow offered as a functional solution, people would oppose it because criminals 'must be punished'. I'm using this to demonstrate the problem with believing that criminals deserve to be punished - it presents an obstacle towards actually solving the problem of criminals.

Obviously, no ridiculous magical solution will present itself to be rejected by those who would rather just keep on punishing criminals. But I think that sacrificing a number of our options for the sake of fulfilling our own personal desires for justice is... bad.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Vanguard » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:17 pm UTC

I prefer the 'eye for an eye' notion. Of course this can be stretched somewhat, I don't think a homicidal maniac needs to be tossed in jail for 20 years. They need to be removed from the earth, especially if they show the same signs before, or conveniently show good behavior over night or some shit.

I'm a cynic though. I'm basically Light from Death Note, minus a lot of his level of intelligence.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby General_Norris » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:35 pm UTC

Vanguard wrote:I'm a cynic though. I'm basically Light from Death Note, minus a lot of his level of intelligence.


So you are megalomaniacs Marty Stu that all that wants is to rule the world and kills people because they oppose him killing lots of people for no reason other than him wanting to be a god, in his own words?

And why do you think an homicidal maniacs needs to be removed from Earth? See? That's what Hippo is talking about, you are seeing punishment as an end and that's useless and absurd.


I started to think about this when thinking about capital punishment. I would say that capital punishment is only acceptable when the price of keeping that person alive in prison forever is higher than killing him. As you can see this is not very often to say the least.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Vanguard » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:42 pm UTC

And how much of our taxes are going towards criminals' well being that leave, kill someone else, only to return?
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Sep 22, 2009 10:03 pm UTC

Vanguard wrote:And how much of our taxes are going towards criminals' well being that leave, kill someone else, only to return?
How is this relevant? Do you think that money would be better spent by torturing criminals? Killing them (which is, in America, apparently more expensive than housing them)?
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:12 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I don't think either of these disagree with my central point. I see the utility of deterrence, I don't doubt its authenticity (perhaps, as Gelsamel noted, to my detriment - I've never read any compelling evidence for the effectiveness of deterrence, I've simply long assumed that it works), and I'm all for punishing criminals if it stops criminals from victimizing people. I'm simply not for punishing criminals because they are criminals.


I imagine it probably works to an extent, though I'm not sure either. But specifically when we're saying "Do we jail this person for 20 years or life or do we death sentence?" why do we have this large punishment range? Do we really think that the more abhorrent crimes will be committed less because they get life instead of 20 years?

This is just highlighting that it's not -really- about deterrence... that is just an excuse to justify your cold revenge against others. I think once we've established some small amount of deterrence we've probably already filtered out the small set of people who don't rape/kill/steal because of legal consequences and after that it's pretty much useless to increase the punishment and we should instead be trying to rehabilitate the people who DON'T CARE that they might go to jail and make it so they do... Or even better, we get them to realise it's WRONG and not just something they shouldn't do because of legal repercussion.

This reminds me of something that was linked on an IRC channel. Someone linked a site which compiles huge amounts of images and videos from 411 Scammers who were forced to do embarrassing things. Sort of the like a continuation of that Juice/Shoe meme. Some of the pictures were ridiculously screwed up, including images of the scammers having sex or being nude while holding up signs written in English that they probably don't really understand. Or putting pegs all over their body and scrotums and taking picture of that etc. etc. etc.

That is almost exactly the same as our legal system. They're punishing the scammers because "they deserve it for trying to steal money", there is no want of rehabilitation and they take a pleasure in punishing them (in our legal system the pleasure is that we're morally superior. It's highlighting the moral difference, like Hippo said). And the deterrence does not scale with punishment. It doesn't matter if you embarrass them and put them on the net (you asshole) because guess what? They're scamming people for a reason... They're FUCKING POOR... the scams hardly ever work and when they get requests to put pegs on their scrotum for the money they DO IT because they need the money and being embarrassed and not getting the money isn't going to stop them trying again.

To reiterate... deterrence works to an 'extent' but it doesn't work because we have so many people in prison anyway and people still commit crimes! Even when we give them death or life sentences. Even when the prisons are poor quality as fuck and people get raped and abused in prison. All that threat doesn't stop people raping or murdering others. It's because rapists and murders are fucked up crazy and have a -need- to do it or they committed the crime in the heat of passion without thinking about the legal repercussions. And those who'd rape if there were no legal repercussions only need -some- legal repercussion to decide not to do it.

Why does this happen? Why don't we care about rehabilitation and why do we take pleasure in punishing people? It's the same reason why cops beat up the 'bad guys' in their cells. It's the same reason why the USA fucking tortured people... people. We're stuck in this ridiculous cartoon morality that is thrust upon us from our "Us" vs. "Them" culture from day 1. Until recently disciplining your child was pathetic aversion therapy. "Don't do this or you'll get smacked" not "Don't do this because of X Y and Z and it's just -wrong-"? These reasons are why we're stuck with our eye for an eye justice system and our eye for an eye foreign policy and our eye for an eye vigilantism.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby zug » Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:25 am UTC

Why does this happen? Why don't we care about rehabilitation and why do we take pleasure in punishing people? It's the same reason why cops beat up the 'bad guys' in their cells. It's the same reason why the USA fucking tortured people... people. We're stuck in this ridiculous cartoon morality that is thrust upon us from our "Us" vs. "Them" culture from day 1.
I don't think it's fair or accurate to draw a parallel between torture and the current state of our penal system. It's not torture to go to prison, or to be humanely executed. They're three different phrases with three distinct definitions.

Torture (even "with cause") is a human rights violation, which has been agreed on by the majority of civilized nations. But pretty much every civilized nation has prisons and a system in place to send people to them.

I'm simply not for punishing criminals because they are criminals.
But why not? Is this just something you feel is wrong, or do you have justification for stating so? My counterpoint is that sane adults know the consequences of an action. They know that stabbing someone in the heart will probably kill them. They know that shooting someone has a good chance of killing (or at least causing a great deal of pain and distress) to them. Why do you NOT agree that people who do shitty things to other people should be the recipient of shitty things??

The main barrier I see to agreeing with your above quote is that it seems you're allowing criminals to abdicate responsibility for the people they hurt or kill. And again, if there's a cushy-wushy system in place to deal with criminals "non-criminally," and there's no need to make them take responsibility for their actions, it follows there is no effective deterrent to stop a (say) poor or homeless person from committing a crime specifically to get in jail!
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:46 am UTC

zug wrote:I don't think it's fair or accurate to draw a parallel between torture and the current state of our penal system. It's not torture to go to prison, or to be humanely executed. They're three different phrases with three distinct definitions.

Torture (even "with cause") is a human rights violation, which has been agreed on by the majority of civilized nations. But pretty much every civilized nation has prisons and a system in place to send people to them.


I'm not saying prison is torture. I'm saying the same root desire is at the base of both of those things. And that that root desire is something we shouldn't be proud of or embrace.


But why not? Is this just something you feel is wrong, or do you have justification for stating so? My counterpoint is that sane adults know the consequences of an action. They know that stabbing someone in the heart will probably kill them. They know that shooting someone has a good chance of killing (or at least causing a great deal of pain and distress) to them. Why do you NOT agree that people who do shitty things to other people should be the recipient of shitty things??


Because then... and I know a lot of people are going to hate me for saying this.

Because then... you're just as bad as them. Because then... you perpetuate this culture that it's okay to give people what they "deserve" (even though everyone thinks everyone else deserves differently) and that culture is what causes most violent crime.

"That bitch fucked another man so she deserved to be killed" -- "Those paedophiles molested some children and we don't want them in our suburb so we just gave them their comeuppance" -- "Those Bloods members were just askin' for it" -- "He slandered my mother" -- "Those women reminded me of my mum who I hated so my serial killing spree was a revenge against my mother with other women substituted as her" -- "Who cares if I killed him? Those gays/jews/blacks/etc. are a sin against god/humanity/nature. They're not people! They deserve to die" -- "Pft, women don't have rights. <Insert some triggery shit here, which I won't insert>"

THAT is what you're saying. When you say someone who murdered someone deserves to die you become a de facto murderer and your justification is that they "brought it on themselves" "they knew what they'd get if they did that" "they must be punished". You perpetuate our hateful fucked up culture and you legitimize the murderer's motivation because your justification is their justification. And you're just as bad, if not worse because you do it in the guise of moral superiority and you perpetuate the fucked up culture.

It's this hateful abhorrent fucked up karma culture which ruins -everything-. Christopher Hitchens says "Religion Poisons Everything"? Yeah, no. This Karma Culture, this Eye For and Eye Culture, this Black and White Cartoon Morality Culture, this "Us" vs. "Them" culture. THAT, that is what poisons everything. It ruins and fucks EVERYTHING up. Everything. And we do it all while sitting in our highchairs with a smug grin as we revel in how WE get to murder and how WE get to restrict freedom and WE get to torture and force democracy upon and pillage and rape and get away with it because they're the bad guys and we're the good guys and that makes it okay and that make us better and just and right and holier than thou. And it's fucked up, it's unbelievably fucked up.


Disclaimer: By "You" I obviously mean "you" in general and not specifically you.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby zug » Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:01 am UTC

I'm not saying prison is torture. I'm saying the same root desire is at the base of both of those things. And that that root desire is something we shouldn't be proud of or embrace.

If we were going to agree with your statement that the same desires motivate torture and imprisonment, degree matters. A lot. But I don't agree that they share a root cause. People are generally tortured when they're foreign and have information the torturers want. People are generally imprisoned for being convicted of a crime in their home country.
Because then... and I know a lot of people are going to hate me for saying this.

Because then... you're just as bad as them. Because then... you perpetuate this culture that it's okay to give people what they "deserve" (even though everyone thinks everyone else deserves differently) and that culture is what causes most violent crime.

"That bitch fucked another man so she deserved to be killed" -- "Those paedophiles molested some children and we don't want them in our suburb so we just gave them their comeuppance" -- "Those Bloods members were just askin' for it" -- "He slandered my mother" -- "Those women reminded me of my mum who I hated so my serial killing spree was a revenge against my mother with other women substituted as her" -- "Who cares if I killed him? Those gays/jews/blacks/etc. are a sin against god/humanity/nature. They're not people! They deserve to die" -- "Pft, women don't have rights. <Insert some triggery shit here, which I won't insert>"

THAT is what you're saying. When you say someone who murdered someone deserves to die you become a de facto murderer and your justification is that they "brought it on themselves" "they knew what they'd get if they did that" "they must be punished". You perpetuate our hateful fucked up culture and you legitimize the murderer's motivation because your justification is their justification. And you're just as bad, if not worse because you do it in the guise of moral superiority and you perpetuate the fucked up culture.

It's this hateful abhorrent fucked up karma culture which ruins -everything-. Christopher Hitchens says "Religion Poisons Everything"? Yeah, no. This Karma Culture, this Eye For and Eye Culture, this Black and White Cartoon Morality Culture, this "Us" vs. "Them" culture. THAT, that is what poisons everything. It ruins and fucks EVERYTHING up. Everything. And we do it all while sitting in our highchairs with a smug grin as we revel in how WE get to murder and how WE get to restrict freedom and WE get to torture and force democracy upon and pillage and rape and get away with it because they're the bad guys and we're the good guys and that makes it okay and that make us better and just and right and holier than thou. And it's fucked up, it's unbelievably fucked up.

Well at least we finally got to the heart of the argument.

In any case, I think you're slippery sloping. Eye for an eye systems are not advocating killing people because they committed adultery or because they are the wrong color. They advocate killing killers and raping rapists and shooting shooters. I still don't see what's wrong with this. I'm not saying that the victims get to choose the punishment for the criminal. The justice system would mete it out. What you're arguing against is vigilanteism, which is NOT the same thing as eye for an eye.

I also think that if a large majority of humans are in agreement that we like an eye for an eye system, WHATEVER the motivation (whether it's irrational revenge or the best philosophical way to deter crime), that social contract theoretically overrides the beliefs of a vocal, highly-motivated minority.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:16 am UTC

zug wrote:If we were going to agree with your statement that the same desires motivate torture and imprisonment, degree matters. A lot. But I don't agree that they share a root cause. People are generally tortured when they're foreign and have information the torturers want. People are generally imprisoned for being convicted of a crime in their home country.


But they are. It's true that imprisonment usually happens to non-foreigners and torture happens mostly to foreigners... but that's the wrong way to look at it.

With torture it's: Us vs. Them, Good Guys vs Bad Guys, Us-ians vs Terrorists etc.

With imprisonment it's: Us. Vs Them, Good Guys vs. Bad Guys, Us Good Non-criminals vs Criminals.

The root cause is that we want to punish those who are not us "Good" people simply because they're "Bad" people. Simply because "They deserve it" not because it'll help them or us (although some level of punishment might help us it's not -because- of that that we do it).

Also I don't really mean torture as in specifically torturing for information but just torture in general, but sure.


Well at least we finally got to the heart of the argument.

In any case, I think you're slippery sloping. Eye for an eye systems are not advocating killing people because they committed adultery or because they are the wrong color.


No, not literally "Eye for an Eye".... but that's not how I use the phrase. I use it to mean that "Those Who Do Bad Things Should Have Bad Things Done To Them". People kill adulterers and black people because they think that they deserve it. They think "Black People are bad or evil or less than human and thus they deserve to die or be assaulted or raped" THAT is why most violent crime happens. That is why most morally repugnant violent things happen.


They advocate killing killers and raping rapists and shooting shooters. I still don't see what's wrong with this.


Really?... You don't see what's wrong with killing people? You don't see what's wrong with raping people? You don't see what's wrong with shooting people?

You might respond "Well, they aren't "people" - They're rapists killers and shooters". That's why you said rapists/killers/shooters, right? THAT is the exact sentiment I'm talking about. "They're not people, they're black" -- "They're not people they're women" -- "They're not people they're paedophiles" -- "They're not people they're rapists". No, wrong. They're people. And they don't "deserve" anything and you're just as bad as them for suggesting they somehow do deserve something.

Sorry, but I don't see why an organised "official" system to take away people's rights because they "deserve it" is somehow better than an individual taking away another persons freedom because they "deserve it".

I also think that if a large majority of humans are in agreement that we like an eye for an eye system, WHATEVER the motivation (whether it's irrational revenge or the best philosophical way to deter crime), that social contract theoretically overrides the beliefs of a vocal, highly-motivated minority.


Which is the culture I'm talking about. You're just describing the culture which poisons everything there.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Adalwolf » Wed Sep 23, 2009 5:06 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Adalwolf wrote:Umm, yes. I disagree with all my heart.

If someone rapes and kills someone in care for that person deserves to die. Now, that does not mean they deserve to be tortured, per se, but getting beaten up and then strung up from a tree or something along those lines? Yes.
And if doing this leads to a violent culture of rape and murder, we'll keep doing it so you can feel better about yourself - because we value validating your grief over protecting future victims?

'Justice' that involves the brutish murder of criminals - outside of the motivation of deterrence - is narcissistic. By killing someone because they 'deserve to die', you make a clear statement that this isn't about the victims - it's about you. It's about your desire to validate your own moral indignation, your own grief - and not about preventing rape, murder, and abuse.

Which is, in some respects, fine. No one's saying you have to care about protecting people from rape, murder, and abuse. But we should call it what it is. If you're going to punish someone to satisfy your own emotional needs... Well, you're doing it for you. Not the victim, not future victims, not society - just yourself. It's about your gratification.


I fail to see how having rapists hung from trees leads to more victims, as the rapists would be dead, so damn straight I'd feel fine aftwards.

I fail to see how desiring vegeance for a crime means no one cares about the victims...Its about the victims, and the victims family.

You are completely wrong that I would be doing just for myself. It would be partly for myself, yes, partly for the victim, partly for future victims and lastly, partly for society as I'd be removing a bad seed from society.

I gotta say you seem to be reading pretty deep into this issue, which for the life of me seems set in stone. Someone hurts me or someone I love, I'll hurt them back. Eye for eye. Yes, partly for my own emotional needs (people are emotional creatures you know), and partly for the victim. The swift and harsh punishment should make some potential criminals think twice, but won't eliminate crime, as there will always be scumbags.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Sep 23, 2009 5:29 am UTC

Adalwolf wrote:I fail to see how having rapists hung from trees leads to more victims, as the rapists would be dead, so damn straight I'd feel fine aftwards.


Right yeah, I forgot, murder victims aren't victims if they "deserve it". Because if they deserve it then they're not victims they're just reaping what they sew right? And our karma culture you're perpetuating sure doesn't create any victims either. Murderer.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Adalwolf » Wed Sep 23, 2009 5:37 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:
Adalwolf wrote:I fail to see how having rapists hung from trees leads to more victims, as the rapists would be dead, so damn straight I'd feel fine aftwards.


Right yeah, I forgot, murder victims aren't victims if they "deserve it". Because if they deserve it then they're not victims they're just reaping what they sew right? And our karma culture you're perpetuating sure doesn't create any victims either. Murderer.


Its not a murder. Its a punishment.

If you fail to see the difference then that is your problem.

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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Philwelch » Wed Sep 23, 2009 5:58 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:I imagine it probably works to an extent, though I'm not sure either. But specifically when we're saying "Do we jail this person for 20 years or life or do we death sentence?" why do we have this large punishment range? Do we really think that the more abhorrent crimes will be committed less because they get life instead of 20 years?


No, but there are some people we frankly don't trust in open society even after having them in prison for 20 years.

Gelsamel wrote:I think once we've established some small amount of deterrence we've probably already filtered out the small set of people who don't rape/kill/steal because of legal consequences and after that it's pretty much useless to increase the punishment and we should instead be trying to rehabilitate the people who DON'T CARE that they might go to jail and make it so they do... Or even better, we get them to realise it's WRONG and not just something they shouldn't do because of legal repercussion.


I have an easier solution: we keep them locked up in a building so they don't have the opportunity to hurt people again. Prisons are a humane way to separate these people from society. Rehabilitating them has never been shown to work.

I'm against capital punishment because we can afford prisons--to me that's the only morally relevant concern. If we couldn't afford as much prison space as we needed, I'd be all for executing everyone with a life sentence. Not because anyone "deserves" it, but because these people need to be removed from society on the most pragmatic level imaginable.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Sep 23, 2009 6:06 am UTC

Adalwolf wrote:Its not a murder. Its a punishment.

If you fail to see the difference then that is your problem.

Taking a life is not always wrong. Accept it.


"You're right. It's not murder to kill criminals, it's only murder to kill people. Killing criminals is just punishment.

It's not murder to kill gays. It's a punishment for sinning against God. It's not murder to kill abortion clinicians. It's punishment for murdering babies. It's not murder to <Godwin'd>. If anyone can't see the difference between murdering "people" and removing the "bad guys" it's just their own problem."


Your argument -does not work at all-. Your justification is "You have to punish the wicked because the wicked deserve punishment" and that is fucked up. It is so unbelievably fucked up and abhorrent. Your justification is what causes most of the pain and suffering in this world. And you do it while pretending that you're so moral and so worthy and qualified to damn others. It's them that deserve to die for their crimes. Them that are worthy of punishment. Them who you're allowed to take freedoms from for taking freedoms from others. Not us, not the "non-criminals". We're in the safely moral majority and that means we're right and they're wrong and they're the ones who have to die for it and we're justified because it's them not us and so we're allowed to kill as long as it's them we're killing and if any of us kill one of us then they're not us because we don't kill us instead they're them and we'll kill them too.

When the truth is that those who judge to damn others are the ones who are the most selfish, the most abhorrent and the most worthy of being damned themselves.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Adalwolf » Wed Sep 23, 2009 6:51 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:
Adalwolf wrote:Its not a murder. Its a punishment.

If you fail to see the difference then that is your problem.

Taking a life is not always wrong. Accept it.


"You're right. It's not murder to kill criminals, it's only murder to kill people. Killing criminals is just punishment.

It's not murder to kill gays. It's a punishment for sinning against God. It's not murder to kill abortion clinicians. It's punishment for murdering babies. It's not murder to <Godwin'd>. If anyone can't see the difference between murdering "people" and removing the "bad guys" it's just their own problem."


Your argument -does not work at all-. Your justification is "You have to punish the wicked because the wicked deserve punishment" and that is fucked up. It is so unbelievably fucked up and abhorrent. Your justification is what causes most of the pain and suffering in this world. And you do it while pretending that you're so moral and so worthy and qualified to damn others. It's them that deserve to die for their crimes. Them that are worthy of punishment. Them who you're allowed to take freedoms from for taking freedoms from others. Not us, not the "non-criminals". We're in the safely moral majority and that means we're right and they're wrong and they're the ones who have to die for it and we're justified because it's them not us and so we're allowed to kill as long as it's them we're killing and if any of us kill one of us then they're not us because we don't kill us instead they're them and we'll kill them too.

When the truth is that those who judge to damn others are the ones who are the most selfish, the most abhorrent and the most worthy of being damned themselves.


What a pretty, pointless speech you made.

And I'll damn anybody I damn well please to damn. Betta watch out, I just might damn you.

You seem to not believe in the death penalty, as you say killing criminals is murder. Its not. It is people like you, not I, who are abhorrent. Your weakness is abhorrent. You and your beliefs is what is making society crumble. Through weakness. You don't have the stomach to see what needs to be done actually done. Sometimes criminals just deserve to die. Simply put. If the courts don't do it, then by the gods the friends and family of the victim(s) have every right in the world to do it.

And why are you seemingly trying defend criminals from getting punished?

And wtf is with your quote about gays? Nobody said jack shit about them. Your lame quote is completely off mark its not even funny. Gays aren't criminals. Criminals are criminals, who deserve to punished because they are...you got it...fucking criminals.

Its not hard logic.

And yes, criminals are people. No one said they weren't. Well, I didn't, at least. So why the hell are you even insinuating that I'm saying they aren't? Huh?

Criminals are people. Some criminals, because of their crimes deserve to die.

You are saying this logic is what is wrong in the world?

I'd say that pretty simple logic, and people who can't follow it are one of the major problems in the world.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby The TJ » Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:12 am UTC

Well... I'm just going to state my opinion and try not to step into the crossfire here.

The problem here, I think, is that everyone's dealing in absolutes. I don't think anyone has said "Some murderers deserve the death penalty and others don't". If not, I'm saying it now.

But that's why we HAVE the court system, to judge on a case by case system determining, A: whether or not they did it, and B: how they should be sentenced.

What it boils down to in the end is if you believe in a natrual order of right and wrong and if you believe the court system reflects that order.

I have some faith in the justice system and I believe in a natural right and wrong. So I'm going to say that I think most criminals DO deserve their punishment.
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Re: Crime and Punishment: What Criminals Deserve

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:37 am UTC

Ah, we're all always justified for the greater good. People who realise that the 'greater good' is not objective nor consistent are weak, not the people who blindly follow their rage and revenge to the cul-de-sac that is pathetic self-extinction.

The strong ones are the ones who have the stomach to kill those bad people because if we keep on killing and killing and getting rid of all the truly bad people then there'll be no bad killers left! None at all. Except you. Except you and your safely 'moral' majority whose hands are stained crimson while you pretend they're clean and that you're actions are just.

And then you, with your blood stained hands, where would you go for protection? Under what rule, or ideology, or categorical imperative would you point to for protection when they come for you because you are a killer and "deserve" to die? Because you judged all those people and killed them, you are their de facto murderer. When you say "But I was just killing the ones which deserved it!" they'll reply "So are we, and so did they." and you'll fall in demise at your own standard of "deserving" and it will be for their 'greater good' just like it was for your 'greater good' and the criminal's 'greater good'. You'll mediate your own demise.

The 'strong' ones are the ones who were weak enough to lower themselves to the base and who had the stomach to kill those who are the ones who "deserve it" and brand themselves a criminal all the while damning them and who had the ignorance to pretend to be moral all the while doing so.


Those who fall to the base and damn and damn while at every step increasing their own sin and damnability, those are the strong ones? That's wrong. The weak ones are the ones weak enough to give in to their base desires and brand themselves criminals and murderers simply because they were doing it to 'the bad guys'. And THOSE are the people we need to protect society from. Those are the people we need to rehabilitate and lock up to avoid extra victims. You. Because you think people have a right to murder others as long as that person deserves it.
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