Justice and Punishment

John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Sun, 29 Mar 1998 21:30:11 -0800 (PST)


>>I can't prove I wasn't at the scene of most murders, neither can you.

>den Otter" <otter@globalxs.nl>
>You can if you document your life (mini audio/video) and/or others,
>like the government are doing it for you.

I concede that if you let me provide the video tape I can give you iron clad
proof that I was not at the crime scene, even if I was.

>Really tough cases could be left to (teams of) human judges ('till
>the advent of AI),

An AI may have other concerns, do you care if snails live together in justice?

>Judges would be required to take "common sense" tests as part of
>their training.

I think that's a fine idea, provided of course I decide what is common sense
and give the test.

>the crimes that threaten society most like street violence will be
>hit the hardest by increased surveillance.

Street violence doesn't threaten society, and the individuals it does
threatens are rare. In the USA violent crime has declined for 6 years in a
row, that's why your idea of turning the entire world into one big
concentration camp in order to solve a trivial problem makes no sense.
Yes I could be killed by some mugger on the street, but history has shown I'm
far more likely to die because a government says I've slandered it, or
because it forces me to fight in some idiotic war, or because it thinks it's
smarter than the market, impoverishes my society and causes me to starve.

>Miss Marple-esque murder mysteries aren't exactly the rule, you know.

True, because most real murder mysteries are never solved.

>Cases like O.J. Simpson, where an obvious murderer can never be
>brought to justice because the judicial system fucked up the first
>time around must be prevented however. This means that even if
>someone has initially been found innocent, he *can* be tried for the
>same crime at a later date if new evidence comes up.

This is a good example, the judicial system did fuck up but unfortunately
there's nothing unusual there. A mountain of evidence was presented at the
trial, more than enough to convict I think, evidently you agree, but others
disagree including the jury and significant new evidence has not turned up.
So what do we do, keep retrying a person till we get a verdict we like?
If I'm convicted and I don't like it can I keep getting new trials until
I'm found innocent?

>the torture that is applied to especially cruel/multiple murderers,
>which they duly deserve.

Duly deserve? Again we find a major disagreement on the nature of Justice.
My definition, Justice is the course of action that reduces the amount of
suffering in the world the most.
Your definition, Justice is the course of action that rewards victims by
entertaining them with the suffering of people they don't like.

>>Do you really find it hard to understand why anybody and everybody
>>would be more than nervous when police bring them in?

>That depends on the public's trust in the system, the PR of the
>police etc.

Good PR needs a jingle, how about "A day without torture is like a day
without sunshine". Then we could have a sitcom about the wacky adventures of
Tommy the Torturer, like the time his boss told him to draw and quarter a
prisoner but by mistake he burned him at the stake instead. A laugh riot!
Fun for the whole family! Then we need a kid show about your friendly
neighborhood torturer, perhaps we could interest the Disney people, or the

>people won't be too scared when politely asked to come to down to
>the station. [...] At the stage that someone is requested to
>appear at a hearing it must already be 99% (so to speak) sure that
>he's guilty.

Let's see, when the police politely ask me to come down to the station I know
that there is a 99% chance that they think I'm guilty and duly deserve to be
slowly tortured to death but there is no reason I should be nervous.
Could you run that past me again?

>The damage has been done by then, and is often irreversible. You
>might take the slanderer down with you, but that won't undo the
>damage to your reputation. It's better to prevent it alltogether, by

If me taking the slanderer down with my words does not deter him why will the
law do better?

Fortunately the Internet and Cryptography are making this debate moot,
slander laws are becoming impossible to enforce. If I want to slander you I
can do so anonymously and you can slander me back the same way. I don't think
that will bring an end to civilization and because I'm not thin skinned I
don't think it will bring the end to me either. You'll probably survive too.

John K Clark johnkc@well.com

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