Thursday, October 15, 2009

ZenTiger The Cult of Insincerity

There is in the article a moral exhibitionism, which is generosity of spirit at other people’s expense. This, I think, is one of the sicknesses of our age, the desire to appear more-compassionate-than-thou. I suspect that, in his heart of hearts, the author does not believe a word of what he says: a common thing among intellectuals. -- Theodore Dalrymple

An interesting statement all on its own. However, it's the closing paragraph of a broader article, one which attacks what is becoming an increasingly popular concept amongst the liberal avant-garde - the abolition of prisons.

He writes about France, but we have our own such people that are looking so hard at one aspect, I think they manage to ignore all others. I'll quote Theodore once more in reply to this idea:

There is no recognition whatsoever in the article that the purpose of the criminal law is to protect the population from criminals, not to make criminals better people. Of course, it would be nice if they became better people, as indeed they often do with the passage of time; but criminal justice is not group therapy. It is, moreover, preposterous, and deeply condescending, to suggest that criminals do not know what they are doing, and that what they need is therefore some kind of help to know it. As for calling crimes a ‘mistake,’ equivalent, shall we say, to putting the wrong postage on a letter or forgetting to put salt in the soup, it empties the world of all moral meaning whatever.

That sums up the underlying madness around ending prisons. I've said it before, prisons are not the problem per se, they hold evidence of the symptom. You will not end crime by abolishing prisons.

I'd also make the point that rehabilitation programs are desirable, but in NZ we see an alarming disconnect with a prisoner making parole, and then the support services and parole conditions not being monitored adequately, reducing parole down to a game of chance, with citizens forced into the gamble that the criminal has changed their ways.

I'm wondering though what it is that convinces these more-compassionate-than-thou style liberals that criminals are people that simply "made a mistake", like a meeting and a bit of group therapy would sort it all out and the criminal would say "righto" and promise not to do it again, "it" being rape, or murder, or some violent act.

Is it really insincerity that drives these liberals, or something else? I could ask if it were "something far worse", but given the outcome, what other reason could be worse?

Related Link: The Cult of Insincerity

2 comment(s):

Jim Ryan said...

I'm wondering though what it is that convinces these more-compassionate-than-thou style liberals that criminals are people that simply "made a mistake"

I think it's that the recognition that many people are simply wicked is inconsistent with the liberal's utopian vision in which the state creates the conditions of happiness and social harmony. The state can't achieve that if many people are intrinsically wicked in character. The liberal won't relinquish the ideology, so the facts get the heave-ho.

Also, the responsibility of the individual to achieve a set of traditional virtues doesn't fit in with the statist's notion that these virtues derive from the guidance of the state, given enough funding.

At times, such a liberal may say, yes, these people are wicked, but that is because of the effects of conservatism injustices, so you can't blame them for it and should not imprison them.

libertyscott said...

Yes good post. Prison is primarily about protecting people from criminals, which begs the question why a whole host of behaviour where the prospects of a victim are remote, means people go to prison, such as drug offences or indeed tax evasion.

It is fair to say that for non-violent offences, people should get a chance to rehabilitate, but repeat violent and sex offenders need to be kept away. I'd much rather prisons until people are, on balance of probabilities, unlikely to reoffend.

The most vile expression of the philosophy of "nobody's fault" are the apologists for child abusers, like John Minto and Maia, who blame economics for why people bash an infant to death.

It is beyond me the depths to which people will want others to evade responsibility - the next step is to say it wasn't the Nazi's fault, it was because of the depression that they gassed the Jews.

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