Tuesday, September 14, 2010

ZenTiger When the guilty are called victims

Here's the situation:

Forty-five people have been convicted of a serious violent offences since the "three strikes" legislation came into effect this year.

Under the new law, which came into effect on June 1, 40 [types of] violent offences attract a strike upon conviction. After a third strike, a maximum sentence with no parole will be handed down. Police Minister Judith Collins said today that 45 people had been convicted of a first-strike offence, of whom five had been sentenced.

There had been no convictions for second-or third-strike offences.


So 45 people found guilty in a court of law of a violent offence, and this is the headline:

'Three strikes' law claims first victims

Victims? I wonder if they can get compo for that? More to the point, what an abuse of the word victim. I'm traumatised following the vicious assault that the New Zealand Herald has inflicted upon me. If they continue to beat me over the head with mis-used words I will have to lay a complaint of assault with the police, and maybe this will count as a first strike against them.

Meanwhile, the media are also trying to do a beat up an ACT MP David Garrett with a conviction for assault. They say this is news worthy because he is the instigator of the three strikes law. They suspect this makes him a hypocrite, a very bad crime indeed. However, it does the opposite. Wouldn't a test of reasonableness over the law be strengthened if the proponent of it was guilty of a crime he says he is innocent of? Doesn't this highlight that if anyone can empathize with the dangers of misusing this law, it would be one who has been impacted by it in this way? It's all in the spin, and the spin shows the level of bias against ACT that defies rationalism.

2 comment(s):

0..0 said...

The State is necessarily a blunt and offensive weapon. It assaults victims even if they are unaware of it. It exercises it's force against the weaker individual. Brutality against criminals is still brutality, which makes the situation worse regardless of any alternative. But I doubt the Herald meant it like that, since they uphold the same perspective as the state.

Simone Weil has some interesting things to say on crime and punishment that tie in with your examples. One, that when we feel nothing but our duty to exercise force, in the case of punishing criminals, we are experiencing evil. And two, unless one has been crushed by penal force, we cannot understand.

The three concepts in your post have a single link and I suspect it's one you will find unacceptable.

You lament the "real" victims of crime - the old lady who is bashed; the child molested; the shopkeep robbed; drawing line between them and the agressors. The line is a sneer, in which you feel your urge to punish those people. On the other, you say Garret, who has been convicted of a violent crime should be better positioned to understand laws surrounding crime and should not be vilified. This is contradictory. Under your measure, convicted crims are not victims, and should be sneered at, unless they are Garret, at which point their true value should be realised.

The link is that all parties are the victims of force. There are no levels of victimhood - that is culture, and fear of the results of extrapolation, speaking. It does not follow that if the state is barbaric, it should not then protect it's citizens. Also irelevent is a faith in a hierachy to human existence, evident in your praising of one convicted criminal over another. There are just humans, not politicians and humans or human dirt and average citizens. Until that is realised, justice will not happen.

ZenTiger said...

Good point.

I agree in substance, but there are some counter points I'd like to make to what you have talked about. I'll hopefully do it later, after work.

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