Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Scary lack of punishment.

I live in Melbourne, Australia. A few years back we had a rather hot day which we now call 'Black Saturday' (google it for some scary and awesome photos). Nearing the end of a very long drought, and on this particularly hot day, a few individuals decided to light some fires. (some of the fires were probably started accidentally - just for the record).

2 of those enlightened individuals who lit fires near Ballarat, those particular fires responsible for 'only' 1 death (of the 173 from that day), were recently freed from any further trial or punishment on the basis that they had low IQs (60), ADHD, and a diminished sense of right and wrong.

Now... well... where do I start.

People are, of course, 'outraged', but then I don't think they really know why, they just want blood for blood.

I'm confuzzled, because there goes my last reason for believing that the justice system might actually have some philosophical merit.

I don't believe punishing these 2 individuals will help them. I think that's pretty agreeable.

What punishment has traditionally provided is a 'warning' to others that they should follow the law. Hence crucifixes, and those cage things with the rotting bones etc. - This creates a culture where we live in a community because we don't want punishment, rather than because we value what the community values. I think it's safe to say that western culture doesn't really go with that method much any more. (... but that's SO going to be another post later)

Then there's this sense of 'justice', but we know the time old notion that punishing the murderer won't bring back the dead. Justice has only ever had the effect of threat anyway.

The possibly more humane use of prisons is to take people who didn't work with society out of the society. That one kinda makes sense to me, although I'd attempt to find a nice place to put them, so long as they can't plot against me. It does tend to create an 'us and them' sort of thing which is apparently a bad thing.

Then there's the really modern thing of 'correction centre' instead of prison, we take the social misfits then 'correct' them till they fit back in. The duration they spend being 'corrected' is proportional to the effect of the crime they committed to notify us that they needed correcting.

All jadedness aside, I thought that last one was on to something. But then... wouldn't that be the perfect place for an IQ60 ADHD arson who didn't know 'right from wrong' aka 'society's values'?


  1. I would imagine they will get some 'correctional' counselling. I think this might be a case not to get outraged about and trust that the authorities have made the correct decision.

  2. Outraged tends not to actually change anything... I'm not outraged, more concerned.

    I also hope they will get correctional counselling, however it won't be court mandated, as all court proceedings are done with. I think it now comes down to the parents and perhaps teachers (if any) to take responsible action. That scares me.

    If these two do not know right from wrong, and are incapable of it, as they apparently are, they have no idea that they shouldn't light fires next really hot, dry day - or any other bad idea that they don't know is bad. And That scares me too.

  3. I have to admit, I kind of lost track..sorry...

    Anyway, I'm not sure what you do with people like this. In the US, they tend to lock them up in some "mental health" facility if they can't stand trial - at least they're off the street.

    Peace <3