Re: Justace and Punishment

den Otter (
Mon, 16 Mar 1998 17:31:43 +0100

> From: John K Clark <>

> "den Otter" <> Sat, 14 Mar 1998
> >Justice is punishing harmful acts in proportion to the crime and in

> >a consequent manner.

> Justice is doing what is needed to prevent harmful acts from being repeated.

I would rather call that an objective of justice. My definition tells you how to
do it in a civilized and functional way, which fits better the official definition
of justice.

[justice --1. just conduct; fairness; exercise of authority in maintenance of
right 2. judicial proceedings] From: _The Concise Oxford Dictionary_

> >Punishments can be fully "customized" and monitored so that no-one

> >is hurt worse than intended.

> If you could prove that then I'd have no objection to corporal punishment,
> but I don't think it's possible, or at least not practical.

It is a known fact that practiced executioners know precisely how to inflict
anything from a slight discomfort that leaves no marks to a horrible lingering
death. Especially the Chinese were (are?) true masters of torture. Add to
that modern (medical) science & technology, and a system where the
executioner is severely punished when killing the convict/otherwise overdoing
the punishment *and* full audio/video monitoring and you'll have a pretty
good system. Not 100% foolproof of course (but what is?), but certainly a
lot better than today's prison systems. And that's what counts.

After all, imprisonment has a different effect on different people just like
corporal punishment, but unlike the latter it is very hard to customize
(how do you measure psychological damage?) Surely you don't think
that a year in jail is equally hard on your grandmother as it is on a
tough streetfighter?

> >if you can't take the heat then *stay out of the kitchen*! No-one

> >is forced to become a violent offender
> My point is that people should not be punished differently for the trivial
> reason of having different physiques, and that nobody should receive the
> equivalent of a death sentence for committing a very minor crime.

My point exactly, that's why I think we need better (safer, healthier,
automated) jails (later: cryoprisons) and customized corporal
punishments for violent offences. Right now jail time sometimes means
mutilation/rape/death, even in western countries. Even worse, the least
guilty suffer most.

> >Primitive man presumably acted even more on impulse than we do, and

> >feelings of hate and revenge might have helped him on his way to
> >the top.
> Certainly, but so what? My genes have their agenda and I have mine,

At least, that's what you *think* ;-)

> besides,
> I'm a lot smarter than my genes, even they know that, that's why they gave me
> a brain.

Gave? How benevolent of those genes!

> If you look for wisdom or morality in Evolution you will not find it.
> Evolution is brutal and stupid, it has no foresight and can't design worth a
> damn,

Yet somehow, it works...

> that's why biological creatures are so poorly made.

Yes, but unfortunately we *are* those creatures, and I don't think we understand
ourselves well enough to start throwing out traits we don't like, especially basic
ones like agression (it is extremely stupid to get rid of agression unless you're
100% sure that you're the only one in the universe, and by definition you can
never be sure. A being without agression is a/k/a a sitting duck).

> >Vicious slander can ruin someone's reputation for life, and can lead

> >to loss ofjob(s), family problems, severe mental damage (sometimes

> >suicide) due to rejection by the community/society etc.
> If your skin is that thin then never say anything controversial, be just like
> everybody else, make sure you don't do anything creative, don't be too good
> at your job and don't make a lot of money, such people are so dull the
> tabloids would never dream of slandering them. Nobody is forcing you to
> aspire to more and if you can't take the heat then *stay out of the kitchen*!

Obviously a world as you dicribe would suck badly. That's why we need law to
make sure that you can do your stuff in relative safety without fearing that some
opportunistic moron will do damage to you or your property. Creativity is
something that has to be protected and stimulated. Anti-slander laws can help.

> A word about reputation, my reputation is an opinion on the value of my past
> actions that's useful in determining the probability that my future actions
> will be of value too, but my reputation is not set by me nor is it used by me,
> it is used and set by others.

And someone can thoroughly wreck it so that others will judge you by lies
rather than your true qualities, with all the consequences. IMHO people
will think twice about slandering you when they know they will be punished
by "a large band of thugs" a/k/a government.

> >People don't really care about the truth, they want dirt
> Then these people are fools, and I don't care much if a fool thinks I'm a
> fool.

We live in a world filled with fools of every discription, so even if you don't
care what they think their actions will interfere with your life. Slander can
lead to mobs with pitchforks and torches outside your door (burn that
child molester -- or whatever), or to not being able to get a decent job and
a lot more nastiness. That's the way the world works.

> If you feel differently and their opinion is that easy to sway then
> just sway them back.

It's not that easy, certainly when a powerful enemy (like a company
or some sect) has targeted you.

> >No amount of oral or other defense can fully reverse the effects of

> >slander

> Especially if the "slander" is true. If there were an all powerful oracle
> that could always tell truth from untruth then it might be a good idea to
> stop those who spread ideas that are untrue, and if politicians always knew
> how to make the correct decision I'd be in favor of a strong central
> government, but pigs can't fly and such oracles are a little hard to find.

A slander trial forces the attackers to produce some hard evidence, something
you could hardly do on your own. No evidence means that it was indeed slander
which meens fines/jail etc. are in order.