David Thompson
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June 27, 2019

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Tom

The problem with Theodore Dalrymple, and Victor Davis Hanson on the devolution of California, isn't that they're wrong, I believe they're almost entirely correct. It's that their articles leave very little room for hope. Bureaucrat's gonna bureaucrat after all.

If it wasn't for Hump Fat™ I don't know how I'd make it through the day.

Jen

that criminality is akin to an illness, and therefore it’s wrong to treat it as something that people have any control over. And of course this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That.

David

It’s that their articles leave very little room for hope.

A consequence of letting the left get away with its corrosive Theatre of Compassion, on so many fronts, for decades.

Kevin B

...where readers are told with great certainty that burglary rape is “really quite inconsequential,” unworthy of punishment, and that anger at being burgled raped and the subsequent sense of violation are somehow trivial, plebeian and unsophisticated.

No. Somehow I don't see Polly writing this in the Groan. Or the Groan publishing it.

David

Somehow I don’t see Polly writing this in the Groan. Or the Groan publishing it.

And yet the above pretty much defines the moral perversity of the modern left. If you follow the links, you’ll see the number of Guardian readers who applauded Mr Stafford Smith for his views on burglary and crime in general. A comfortable majority. Readers were hailing him as a “good guy,” “inspirational,” and declaring rather pretentiously, “I find it hard to understand there are people that are attached to their TV, or other stuff burglars like.”

You see, when preyed upon, we should just roll over, suck it up, and to hell with our possessions and our sense of security, and our sense of justice. And by implication, to hell with the burglar’s next victim. Because there’s almost always a next victim, and usually dozens of past victims. All of whom presumably had to work for the possessions being stolen and for the homes being violated.

These, then, are the lofty moral plains of our self-imagined betters.

SumDumGuy

Somehow I don't see Polly writing this in the Groan. Or the Groan publishing it.

Broken windows friend, we are building up to it.

Pst314

So, it would be okay for somebody to steal all a Grauniad writer’s property?

Nicholas

So, it would be okay for somebody to steal all a Grauniad writer’s property?

Only if the intersectional calculus shows a higher intersectionality score for the new owner than the Grauniad writer.

David

Only if the intersectional calculus shows a higher intersectionality score for the new owner than the Grauniad writer.

And hence Mr Stafford Smith’s belief that if a burglar is also a “young black person,” he should be exempt from the normal consequences of his crimes. Because you ain’t worth it, baby.

pst314

Only if the intersectional calculus shows a higher intersectionality score for the new owner than the Grauniad writer.

What could be more intersectional than being a thief and yet not being fond of the Grauniad?

WTP

Do understand that this line of reasoning that excuses behavior by denying personal responsibility or agency or what have you applies only to dirtbags, but not to those who refer to them as dirtbags. Calling a dirtbag a dirtbag is the one thing in the domain of discussions about dirtbags where people are held accountable for their actions, but only those people calling a dirtbag a dirtbag. It is wrong, wrong, wrong to call a dirtbag a dirtbag but it is perfectly excusable for a dirtbag to do dirtbag things because of course dirtbag behavior on the part of dirtbags is simply unavoidable by those people whom the rest of us are wrong, wrong, wrong to call dirtbags. It's really quite simple. You people who fail to understand this are just Nazis. That's all there is to it.

Tom

That's all there is to it.

Instructions...unclear, but I've changed my hoover bag so it's not a total loss.

David

but I’ve changed my hoover bag so it’s not a total loss.

I once changed a hoover bag. I think it was 1989.

Daniel Ream

prison doesn’t work because a high proportion of prisoners when they come out commit offences again, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anywhere in a British publication that this might indicate that actually they should be in prison for longer.

There's ample evidence that length/severity of a prison sentence doesn't deter crime, the likelihood of being caught does. The overwhelmingly majority of petty crime is impulsive; the miscreant isn't performing a cost-benefit analysis or the risks and rewards, they're nicking the goods because they don't think they're going to get caught. And if they don't think they're going to get caught, it doesn't matter how severe the sentence is. Even for career criminals or habitual offenders who are performing a CBA, increasing the chance of getting caught has a much greater impact on that risk analysis than increasing the sentence.

It's not an accident that US states with castle doctrine and stand your ground laws tend to have low incidences of violent crime and high private gun ownership.

Another Calgary Marc

It's sad watching people write insightful (but depressing) pieces and seeing that they "get it" but knowing little (if anything) will change. But it always seems to come back to "dodging responsibility" for the left. Always.

This reminds me of a discussion I once had with a leftist acquaintance with whom I often speak on varying topics of dispute. I was asked why those of my ilk favour punishment over rehabilitation for the criminally antisocial. My main points were that:
1) rehabilitation without punishment is generally ineffective, as there isn't sufficient deterrence against reoffending;
...a) most criminals care not a whit for being rehabilitated, and thus cannot be. I would go so far as to say only "accidental" criminals have any possibility of being properly and completely rehabilitated.
2) if punishment is not handed out--and seen to be handed out--it emboldens others;
3) similarly for the severity of the punishment;
4) the criminals should not be treated better than their victims; and
5) protection and defence of society as a whole, and especially their victims, even if temporary.

My interlocutor thanked me for my considered response, but did not choose to pursue it further. I can only hope that some thoughts stuck, but I'm not optimistic.

David

There’s ample evidence that length/severity of a prison sentence doesn’t deter crime, the likelihood of being caught does.

Well, ideally, the party being frightened should be the criminal one, not their prey, and enabling that shift, insofar as one can, should perhaps be more of a priority. It may also be worth rethinking the nature of a stay behind bars and its deterrent potential, not just its duration. Almost every poll of the general public has favoured more punitive measures, and as I’ve said before, a three-strikes-and-we-put-you-out-to-sea-on-a-fucking-raft policy would not, I think, be unpopular.

David

Again, as I’ve said before, the kinds of people who indulge in such behaviour repeatedly are hardly worthy of the disingenuous sympathy expressed by teary lefties, generally to elevate themselves in the eyes of their equally pretentious peers. While Guardian columnists fret about the “poor quality of toothbrushes” used by burglars, muggers and rapists when incarcerated, those burglars, muggers and rapists are unlikely ever to repay such concerns. Given the nature of the beast, as illustrated here, the odds of anything approaching reciprocation seem rather slim.

The people who do these things - again and again, until forcibly stopped – don’t generally regard their neighbours, the people around them, as deserving of anything. They - we – are little more than furniture or scenery, props in their squalid little psychodramas. We’re merely people from whom things can be taken. A kind of foodstuff.

WTP

There's ample evidence that length/severity of a prison sentence doesn't deter crime, the likelihood of being caught does

The main purpose of a prison sentence IMNSHO is to keep the miscreant out of society which most certainly does deter him from committing crimes while he is in prison. It also keeps him from corrupting anyone slightly inclined toward such behavior, again so long as he is in the clink. Additionally, as youth is a factor in willingness and ability to commit crimes, the longer the younger criminal ages in prison the safer society is in general, up to a point, at least while he is in prison. There are limiting factors on the time involved but seldom do I see this aspect raised. It's always about rehabilitation or punishment, both of which aim to change the individual. Only when, and in most cases if, the individual is willing to change does rehab or punishment have any effect.

Well, ideally, the party being frightened should be the criminal one, not their prey

Which again is what angers me about how often I see police and such posting messages like "Lock it or lose it" and "Lock your doors or lose what's yours" yet rarely do I see messages like "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime". In fact, right now if you google those three phrases, the only hit, the one solo link in all of the internet that just came back on my search just now, is a comment that I made on some idiot philosopher's blog a few months ago.

Daniel Ream

keep the miscreant out of society which most certainly does deter him from committing crimes while he is in prison.

Barn doors and horses and all that. It'll keep him from committing crimes while he's in jail, but the threat of that punishment won't deter anyone else from committing a similar crime and as has been noted, it won't prevent him from reoffending when he gets out, either.

It also keeps him from corrupting anyone slightly inclined toward such behavior

Um, no. One of the biggest problems with prison is that criminals come out much harder and more skilled at being criminals than when they went in.

a three-strikes-and-we-put-you-out-to-sea-on-a-fucking-raft policy would not, I think, be unpopular.

This is one of those cases where you have to decide exactly what your end goal is. If you want to reduce crime, you can do that with a 24/7 surveillance police state. If you want to slake the public's bloodlust, you can go back to the 12th century and just hang everyone for every offense, no matter how minor. If you want to preserve essential liberty and deter crime, the best available option anyone's come up with yet is to allow the public to arm themselves and defend their person and property (cf. "roof Koreans").

I'm not a big fan of populism when it comes to sentencing, myself, as the same people who decry the legal system for jailing Tommy Robinson on a ridiculous pretext and allowing Rotherham to continue for decades seem to want to give the legal system the power to do all that more and harder.

pst314

"This reminds me of a discussion I once had with a leftist acquaintance..."

Have you noticed that the Left seems to think that punishment for WrongThink should be more severe than punishment for theft and robbery?

David

the best available option anyone’s come up with yet is to allow the public to arm themselves and defend their person and property (cf. “roof Koreans”).

Sadly, British law and political culture has been moving in a very different direction, pretty much the opposite one.

David

Right, I’ve in-laws to feed and entertain, so I’ll have to leave you to it. If you must glass each other, don’t use the good ones.

WTP

If you must glass each other, don’t use the good ones.

Oh. I thought they were movie props...granted, all improperly manufactured movie props. No? My bad.

Franklin

This absurdly lenient attitude towards crime presupposes a heinous assumption: that the underclass, defined socially or racially, has no free will, while everyone else does. They claim, then, that we should punish underclass criminals lightly or not at all because they can't help what they do, and we can.

It escapes them that we could use the same rationalization to justify putting underclass criminals down like bad dogs. To reform would require agency. If they have no agency then they have no way to reform. If they can't reform then we might as well euthanize or exterminate them. And that's leaving aside the assumptions about their innate inferiority.

I do rather wonder what people are thinking sometimes.

pst314

"This absurdly lenient attitude towards crime presupposes a heinous assumption: that the underclass, defined socially or racially, has no free will..."

Also: crime is caused by the oppressive forces of capitalism, so criminals are merely the victims of an unjust system.

Robbery and murder are evils with immediate victims, but leftism is an evil with even greater long-term harms.

Jay Harper

This was all covered depressingly, in Dalrymple's Life at the Bottom: The World View that Makes the Underclass.

https://www.amazon.ca/Life-Bottom-Worldview-Makes-Underclass/dp/1566635055/ref=sr_1_1?hvadid=75247899277256&hvbmt=be&hvdev=c&hvqmt=e&keywords=life+at+the+bottom&qid=1561656369&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Britain has long focused on the Perp rather than the victim. Victims don't matter. Many police jurisdictions will not even respond to burglary calls anymore. Burglaries are often accompanied by violence in Britain. The poor have little enough to rob, the Rich have guards and fences, in addition to alarms and a responsive police force. The middle class is often targeted because an alarm is all they have, and if they are home, it is turned off. They are therefore more likely to be home and more likely to be assaulted as a result.

Flubber

This absurdly lenient attitude towards crime presupposes a heinous assumption: that the underclass, defined socially or racially, has no free will, while everyone else does

Its a manifestation of "we know better" syndrome. The same reason the working class leave voters should be disregarded for being racist etc.

Only the opinions of the enlightened should count. Everyone else should be managed. Just like Communism in fact. Strange that.

Darleen

On topic - who in their right mind would feel comfortable and safe in this neighborhood?

Another Calgary Marc

pst314: Have you noticed that the Left seems to think that punishment for WrongThink should be more severe than punishment for theft and robbery?

Indeed I have. Thoughtcrime is always more heinous to them than actual physical violence. Which isn't much different, I suppose, than the Apostolic admonition that to think the sin is to commit it.

pst314 again: Also: crime is caused by the oppressive forces of capitalism, so criminals are merely the victims of an unjust system.

Precisely. The victimhood is important, because without that, there's no reason to fight the system that works for the most people most of the time. Which is about the best anyone can hope for when dealing with humans.

Franklin: It escapes them that we could use the same rationalization to justify putting underclass criminals down like bad dogs. To reform would require agency. If they have no agency then they have no way to reform. If they can't reform then we might as well euthanize or exterminate them. ... I do rather wonder what people are thinking sometimes.

Thinking is hard, you know. But it's a problem I've noted frequently and, to be honest, on both sides of the aisle: a lack of imagination in terms of projecting a position to an extreme or an opposite. It seems a very obvious question to me: What would you do or say if this power was granted to your enemies, or if this thing was done to your particular revered institution?

neal

Field trips with ankle bracelets.
Modern chain gangs out in the blazing sun doing God's work.
Like a union job with extra benefits.
Of course in the desert southwest that is just getting your mind right, Boss.

Darleen

There's ample evidence that length/severity of a prison sentence doesn't deter crime, the likelihood of being caught does.

Not buying it because if a perp feels there are no consequences to their lawbreaking, why should they fear getting caught?

You should know after Prop 47 in California we've seen a huge increase in property crime. And why not? Shoplifting up to $950 an incident will never get you any jail time. Ever, beyond book & release. You can go out and lift thousands of dollars in merchandise in a single day but if you have spread it out among a number of stores - say at a mall - you'll get no more than a citation with a must appear date on a misdemeanor charges.

Steve E

Have you noticed that the Left seems to think that punishment for WrongThink should be more severe than punishment for theft and robbery?

It's a feature of the system. The Soviet's wrote the playbook. Solzhenitzen documents how the thieves and murderers ran daily life in the Gulag with the blessing of the state while the politicals were considered irredeemable and treated that way.

David

who in their right mind would feel comfortable and safe in this neighborhood?

Fun-house mirror morality.

Ozzy

It escapes them that we could use the same rationalization to justify putting underclass criminals down like bad dogs. To reform would require agency.

In passing from this subject I may note that there is a queer fallacy to the effect that materialistic fatalism is in some way favourable to mercy, to the abolition of cruel punishments or punishments of any kind. This is startlingly the reverse of the truth.

It is quite tenable that the doctrine of necessity makes no difference at all; that it leaves the flogger flogging and the kind friend exhorting as before. But obviously if it stops either of them it stops the kind exhortation. That the sins are inevitable does not prevent punishment; if it prevents anything it prevents persuasion.

Determinism is quite as likely to lead to cruelty as it is certain to lead to cowardice. Determinism is not inconsistent with the cruel treatment of criminals. What it is (perhaps) inconsistent with is the generous treatment of criminals; with any appeal to their better feelings or encouragement in their moral struggle.

The determinist does not believe in appealing to the will, but he does believe in changing the environment. He must not say to the sinner, "Go and sin no more," because the sinner cannot help it. But he can put him in boiling oil; for boiling oil is an environment.

GKC

Lady Cutekitten of Lolcat

What does “glass each other” mean?

Pst314

To glass someone means to smash off the end of a glass bottle and use it to stab or slash someone.

WTP

Oh. I thought it meant to smash somebody in the face with a drinking glass and the glass then shatters and pieces go flying dramatically, in slow motion, across the room. Or at least the glass is supposed to shatter. Dramatically. If someone had bought the proper kinds of glasses. He says...looking harshly at the head henchlesbian.

Lady Cutekitten of Lolcat

Thanks, PST! I wouldn’t try it with the cheap glasses in this joint, though. 🍸

Daniel Ream

we've seen a huge increase in property crime. And why not? Shoplifting up to $950 an incident will never get you any jail time. Ever

Read the following again:

There's ample evidence that length/severity of a prison sentence doesn't deter crime

Darleen

Daniel,

I read that ... and petty theft wasn't nearly as high when we had PC666 (gone under Prop 47) - petty theft with priors which sent career criminals to STATE prison for 2-5 years. And that PC666 could be plea-bargained to 1 year county jail + 2 years probation.

We can't use the threat of jail time to get drug addicts into rehab any more either. So our homeless population has swelled with addicts shooting up in public because there are NO consequences. Los Angeles saw a 16% increase last year ... they estimate there are 36,000 homeless in Los Angeles. Needles, feces, garbage on the streets = the rise of medieval diseases - typhoid, typhus, drug-resistant TB, bubonic plague, measles, pertussis ...

You decriminalize crime and give light sentences, you get more crime.

Who knew?

Ron B Liebermann

There's one thing to keep in mind when considering the conduct of criminals: Prison is punishment. Only. There is no attempt at moral guidance. The prisoners receive absolutely no rehabilitation. Why? For a couple of reasons. First, if these men were trained in moral conduct, then they would argue that many of the things happening in society today are immoral. For example, paying government staff $100,000 salaries is immoral. Giving embezzlers only one year in jail is immoral. And paying high taxes is immoral, too. So the State can't provide moral guidance, or it would be training its own revolutionaries.

Secondly, the courts and jails have to be kept full somehow. So those repeat offenders are important. The whole system is designed to create the illusion that moral behavior is mysterious. It can't be defined. And so the immoral conduct of the government isn't really wrong. It's just a byproduct of politics. Therefore, no government employee should ever be charged with a crime, or sent to prison. One set of rules for them; and one set of rules for us.

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