tag : bright yellow-green apples: crime and punishment

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Saturday, July 31, 2004

crime and punishment

There are two things which caught my eye today, other than Pope John Paull II's retelling of his anti-feminist views, in the usual Saturday morning newspaper read.

There is an article by Karen Armstong discussing the need for a greater acknowledgement of collective responsibility in the face of rampant demonizing and convenient scapegoating of individuals. Yes we are all culpable as individuals for many things, but societal terms tend to be forgotten. Example. This is welcome, given the News of the World’s recent poisonous campaign of principle, apparently against the very existence of Myra Hindly.

Kill the scapegoat

There is a typically polemical exposition by Giles Fraser on the obsession with the language of punishment that many parts, again, of the reactionary and tabloid cultures. He seems to be arguing for a more socially constructive response to wrongdoing.

the price of punishment

I suppose the common thread, in this age of tough on crime, is that there are more constructive responses to wrongdoing, by society as a whole, than the gut reaction that we are told by ‘common sense’. Where's Chris Morris when you need him?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

*casts wary Criminologist's eye*

I would add something I also see happening as well, in that society gets the subsidiary blame for every crime - take David Westwood's forced suspension and the ludicrous Daily Mail hissy fitting over Manhunt as two examples.

In the former case Kevin Wells made the most sensible comment I heard, to say that the man that committed that crime was behind bars for the rest of his life and that blaming an honest, hard-working public servant was a terrible mistake. In the latter case, it concerns me greatly that censorship has been taken to something creative because it is seen as pointless, and that suddenly computer games can be held responsible for actually carrying out crime.

It seems the finger of blame is more often becoming two or three fingers of blame, where the legal process is seen as insufficient and others, often well-intentioned professionals like David Westwood, get the blame because it can't possibly be the fault of one person.

9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*cast's wary criminologist's eye*

I agree with the general gist of the article, although I would have to argue that there's almost an opposite trend going on at the same time.

(I apologise, by the way, if this gets posted twice in slightly different words, blame your stupid blog)

I would argue there tends more often these days to be more than one scapegoat, for instance in the Soham investigation and with the recent banning of Manhunt.

In the former situation, David Westwood was suspended when the father of one of the murdered children said "the man responsible is behind bars, to blame anyone else would be a fool's errand". In the latter, Daily Mail Britain seems to have concluded that computer games can kill people now, and that things can be censored because they're pointless. Follow that argument and we lose the Libertines. Can you imagine?

So yes, society needs to take the blame as a whole. We need to look at ourselves. But there is a disturbing trend towards pointing the finger at people who are secondarily responsible at best, and who are often honest, hard-working well-intentioned folk.

*National Anthem*


9:56 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

I thought this subject would hit the right buttons for you, thanks for sharing a little informed comment that my own outsider musings don't quite manage to cover...

1:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ha, i'm not surprised! it was so good a point i posted it twice*

*this may have had more to do with your blog being slow.

3:32 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

That's tripped me up too. There're now three copies of my reply to RobB on kerygma & dogma and I don't know how to uproot the repetitious creatures.

3:17 PM  

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