Back in the Sixties and Seventies, the hottest controversy in criminal justice was that of punishment versus rehabilitation. The trendy theory was that punishment actually increases the incidence of crime – that rather than inflicting punishment of any sort on the offender, carefully re-educating and reorienting him to social norms would be more fruitful. This was the contention of prominent left-liberals in the justice system. Several of them became highly placed federal judges.
No evidence was offered for this theory. There was a simple reason for that: there was none. There continues to be none today. Indeed, the evidence for the superiority of punishment as a deterrent to further crimes is copious.
The efficacy of deterrence is well grounded in both economics and conditioning theory. The typical criminal is sane. While he dismisses the moral-ethical norms which the rest of us use to restrain ourselves from acting as he does, he understands cause and effect and links them in his personal experience. He hopes to gain from his deeds, though not necessarily in monetary terms. Moreover, however stubborn he may be about returning to crime, a sufficient repetition of the crime-capture-punishment pattern will either convince him that there are better ways to seek what he wants, or remove him from society permanently.
There are many subsidiary discussions under this envelope: what constitutes just punishment for specific varieties of crime; what sort of punishment is most effective; whether any degree of rehabilitative treatment is beneficial; and so on. All that having been admitted, the evidence is conclusive that a pure rehabilitative approach is inferior to punishment when it comes to the central, imperative goal of any justice system worthy of the term: protecting non-criminals from criminals.
And now, a few links:
Each of the above addresses a crime or crimes. Each illustrates the pointlessness of responding to crime with “understanding,” “forgiveness,” or “kindness.” There’s no gain for non-criminals in those approaches. If the justice system is to serve its primary function of protecting the lives and property of the law-abiding from those who aim to flout the law, punishment is the only proven way forward. The offenders must be convinced by appropriate punishment, with repetition and intensification if necessary, that they will not gain from criminal deeds.
The Sixties and Seventies liberals who argued to the contrary are mostly no longer around to debate this. We who have come after them have suffered the fruits of their theorizing. We must tolerate it no longer.
Today, the good people of our nation are suffering a novel sort of crime wave. When described in specific terms, it might not seem to qualify as crime. Yet it is, by the laws of our land. Not long ago it would have been punished severely.
The crime is, loosely put, fraudulent denial of service.
My Gentle Readers are surely familiar with the recent scandals involving online financial services. In several cases, PayPal has refused to pay out honestly acquired revenues to persons whose entirely legitimate causes it disapproves. GoFundMe and Patreon have done likewise. So have various banks. Those companies have not suffered any punishment for their actions. In the absence of punishment for such denial of service, the tactic, which is greatly applauded by left-wing activists, will continue to be used.
More recently, PayPal proclaimed via its Acceptable Use policy that it would deny service and even fine users it deemed guilty of one or more offenses against political correctness. That episode caused me and many others to terminate our association with PayPal. In the short term, that will deprive us who did so of some convenience and revenue. However, it’s all we can do to punish PayPal for its arrogance in thinking it could punish us for disagreeing with it politically.
But it’s not enough. It will not deter the Leftist commissars dictating these actions, the individuals who seek to bend us to their yoke in this way. They’re getting what they want: what they regard as a gain. Deterrence enough has not yet been applied to persuade them otherwise.
Yes, in the fullness of time such behavior will cost those companies monetarily. But the Leftists who’ve colonized and conquered them are uninterested in the long term. They seek victory today, by discommoding and silencing us who differ with them. It has become a contest of endurance and resolve, whose outcome is impossible to predict.
Our “justice” system no longer punishes such corporate criminals. (Perhaps it’s too busy pursuing parents who oppose critical race theory and “genderqueer” doctrines.) That makes its masters accomplices in their crimes. The combination of prosecutorial discretion, Civil Service protections, and corrupted elections has deprived us of the ability to deter them from continuing…not that we had much to start with.
Who can protest and does not is an accomplice in the act. – The Talmud
I maintain that public flogging would be a proper and effective punishment for many crimes. Flogging was considered neither cruel nor unusual when the Founding Fathers penned the Constitution.
The vast majority onpeople espousing rehabilitation over punishment have never experienced serious crime on a personal level. Many of them have never had to live in the real world. They exist in the cloistered towers of academia, the media and government employment where they suffer no consequences when their policies fail. Change that paradigm and a lot of problems would solve themselves. Sadly it appears the damage is done and it may be too late for any peaceful change to occur that can stop what’s coming.