Saturday, June 8, 2013


So here's a difficult ethical question posed by this guy who has a life sentence for raping an 11yo girl and will serve a minimum of eight years. (And not just that being jailed for life can now mean just eight years, ffs.)

I am opposed to the death sentence, but if some guy was to rape Zenella, I would hunt him down and kill him. I would do it without hesitation and if you think this is just internet tough talk, well, don't rape my daughter to try that theory out.

But shouldn't I be for the death sentence?

I think possibly not, that my viewpoints are tenable together, but I do think that I should be willing to allow revenge killings as mitigation in murder cases.

And if you do eight years for raping my daughter, you may have "paid your debt to society" but I don't believe you've paid your debt to me, or more importantly to her. Truly, I think that rape should carry a life sentence without parole, and our treatment of it as a relatively minor crime is seriously wrong. He only got life because he's a serial offender. A first-time offence, if it was not overly violent, he might get just the eight years and be out in three. No way is that just.


Blogger Alan Hope said...

You know that it's a basic principle of western justice that neither the victim nor her relatives has any say in what the punishment of the criminal is to be; that society takes on that role for itself. And I know you understand the reasons why that has to be the case.

So I'm not sure why you think it would be okay to overthrow that principle just because the crime happens to be one of rape. Why is that special?

There are also compelling arguments against the whole idea of life-without-parole, but I won't rehearse them here because I know you know what they are.

June 8, 2013 at 5:34 PM  
Blogger Dr Zen said...

I know there are arguments for disallowing the involvement of victims in justice, but there are in fact arguments for it, and I favour them. Victim conferences happen, and I think that's a good thing. I believe victims should feel they have been done justice. There have been other systems of justice that worked well for the societies they served that worked on different principles.

As far as life without parole, yes, I know there are arguments against it, but there are also people in our justice system who are at least in effect in jail for the rest of their lives with no parole, and for those people, I do favour it. If you don't, please explain why you think releasing psychopaths who we can be close to certain will kill again is ever a good idea, and if you don't think they should be released, then we are just quibbling over where to draw the line.

I will agree that my position needs to be more flexible, but that's where I start from. You can bargain me down to life with parole and we are both satisfied.

June 8, 2013 at 5:39 PM  
Blogger Dr Zen said...

And you know, in many ways western justice is shit. You don't need me to rehearse the problems with civil law, particularly when it comes to cases where the parties are not well matched in financial power and this does extend somewhat to criminal law, where to some extent you get the justice you pay for.

June 8, 2013 at 5:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Victim Impact statements are used in the UK.

Paedophiles can not be reformed/cured, what ever you want to call it.

There is only one course of action to protect society life in prison.

June 12, 2013 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger Don said...

What turned out to be long rambling thoughts.

It's true, pedophiles cannot be "cured". They are sexually attracted to children, and are no more curable than are heterosexuals or homosexuals.

When a child is raped, that person is affected the rest of his or her life. They're not always able to process it well. Usually not, I would argue. I know some counter examples, but I suspect, just by the fact they were able to share with me their stories, that they are more the exception than the rule.

Of course I agree victims should not be meting out punishment. A dispassionate administration of some previously-agreed upon consequence is more just and far more consistent. But passions run high. Personally I would be happy to spare my woman the anguish of killing the person responsible for her journey by doing it myself. But then I would be burdened with my own crime; and since vengeance does not come naturally to me, I don't entirely believe it comes naturally to anyone. The concept may instead be one of the many cultural overlays we have to contend with. Hence my anger at the perpetrator is probably better redirected in more positive directions.

I am acquainted with a convicted pedophile and consider him a friend but for that one failing -- and I really hate picking through my friends for their virtues and failings. So far as I have ever known he holds that one dark tendency in check, indeed when we met he had a smart girlfriend in her 30s, and he's close to 60 and has grown children, and I was surprised to hear of his past. He's a valuable contributor in our shared circles. Should he have been imprisoned for life? I just don't know. I don't think anyone can ever know what the truly right thing to do is in such a case.

Yet my woman's assaulter should be put down like a pig so far as I'm concerned, and I guess I say so because he has not been a nice person. He victimized another child in later years, and is one of those millionaires with lots of well-earned enemies. How do I draw a just distinction between these two men?

Should your daughter gods forbid ever fall victim, I believe I would share the simple view that you should be pardoned for hunting the perpetrator down and killing him.

July 31, 2013 at 8:15 AM  

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