At present the draconian laws in this country discriminate against people if they don’t like your face, or what you’re saying or what you’re thinking. Even the threat of certain crimes is enough to have you banged up without charge or shipped off somewhere. There is little emphasis on crime prevention as this doesn’t provide lots of nice statistics, the police are toothless and spend most of their time alienating the motorist by concentrating on speeding rather than dangerous driving, and alienating the young by dishing out ASBOs rather than attempt to address the cause of the problem. Again as in the case of health we go back to the age old argument of prevention rather than cure. If we look at the actual causes of the crimes and attempt to tackle them at source rather than concentrating on meaningless targets regarding the cleaning-up of vote-losing crime we might actually get somewhere.

When it comes to violent crime I thought initially that I had little truc and people that commit it must, undoubtedly, be removed from society, however upon closer reflection this is something that needs considerable further study and qualification. Violence against other human beings or animals is not to be tolerated and the message from society must be to this effect. However a clear difference needs to be established between types and reasons for crimes especially in a society such as our current one. Those who rob wealthy people when they themselves are poor are committing a crime that has a strong background of desperation, this does not make it right but it goes a long way to explain their actions and clearly suggests that such people are not intrinsically evil but at the end of their tether. Any incarceration should not be lengthy but emphasis should be placed on ensuring they are not planted back into the same position when they are released. What does anyone gain if a parent steals to feed his/her family, is then removed from that family to serve a prison sentence and then on release is placed straight back into the depravation whence he/she came? Many of those that commit very serious violent crimes such as serial murder or serial rape are criminally insane and must be treated as such. This means treatment and studying of their mental states and it is unlikely that they will be able to be released. However it should be possible to put more resources toward their treatment if less money is being used to pay for the imprisoning of people needlessly.

Those who commit crimes that are not violent in nature are less danger to society and therefore do not need to be removed from it. For example to have people put in jail whilst on remand for non-violent crimes or to have people jailed for parking or minor driving offences is ridiculous and an unecessary drain on taxpayer resources whilst in turn giving no tangible benefits back to society. It is plainly stupid that at the moment the penalties for crimes against property or corporations are vastly disproportionate to those against the person. Clearly the perpetrator of fraud or larceny and the like cannot be allowed to escape unpunished, but these sorts of crimes are often committed when there is a clear detachment to the area or people against whom they are committed. Most of us feel that it would be hard to con trusting people because we might like these people and it would prick our consciences to abuse the trust, this is especially prevalent with those we know. People have understandably less quarms if it were to involve people they are never likely to meet again, thus it is that the criminal has no moral code in this instance but that they have a slightly different degree of involvement to the rest of us. To my mind community service is a much more rewarding task for those committed of non-violent offences. Punishments can fit the crimes quite easily in an effort to re-educate, for example a convicted con-man might be sent to work in an old people’s home for some months and thus see thing more from the side of the victims. By the same token serious driving convictions should be met by sentences involving working at RTAs or with victims of accidents and the like. This may sound like liberal-minded claptrap but to be honest I think that is incorrect and punishments can be considerably stronger in impact whilst having at the same time a degree of balance redressing. I do not see how the victim of a con-artist gains a great deal from that person being locked up for 12 years.

Violence may be something that is inherent in all of us as potential and therefore the possibilities of violence may be greater for some than others but the manifestation and what is deemed acceptable or unacceptable are generally things that are learnt and not something we are born with. For example in certain circumstances such as fear of safety it may be a natural instinct to behave violently to see off the threat, this is however very different from choosing violent means in order to exorcise frustration. The latter suggests either a lack of being able to express oneself enough to alleviate the frustration or a singular lack of respect for those around one. In both cases the answer of simple imprisonment does not seem to offer any solution, whilst education at source to prevent and education subsequent to crimes being committed would to my mind be potentially far more plausible.

If you take paedophilia as another very emotive example, the easy answer is lock these people up and throw away the keys. Whilst this is an understandable reaction for any people who may be directly affected it is in fact missing the crucial point that may help us at least embark on the journey of understanding this phenomenon. I don’t not know enough about paedophilia to make expert judgement so I go on purely layman’s terms, but from what I have seen and heard it is a common mantra from paedophiles that they claim not to intend to hurt children because they claim to care about them. Now, one could be cynical and say that this is a ruse and an attempt to justify but it seems to be at the root of all of these people’s arguments and I think requires much closer scrutiny. If it is true it strikes at the heart of what appears to be a mental imbalance and the resulting skewed logic. It is natural, an in-built part of human nature to protect children, and the closer the children are to one the greater the instinct, thus a parent’s instincts should be the strongest. We acknowledge in the case of post-natal depression that there are mental factors which can cause this natural mechanism to break down and it would be a foolish person to believe that there are not many other forms of mental illness that can do the same. Although I am sure paedophilia has always been going on, there is no question that it is now more prominent in people’s minds, or at the least the media. Is it possible that the very nature of our society and the sexualisation of children is having an effect under the surface of the psyches of many people?

Let us not forget that the age boundary beyond which sex is permissible is an arbitrary one and changes from country to country. Physionomically it is equally arbitrary because from a purely biological perspective the variance in anatomical readiness for reproductive sex varies from person to person and the emotional readiness can offten bear no relation to the physical. As a society we have deemed it unpalatable for people to be sexually active before 16 and the line indeed has to be drawn somewhere, and I think it would be difficult to justify the limit being any lower, many would in fact campaign for it being higher but I think this would be difficult and damaging to enforce due to the nature of human hormones. For most of us there is a degree of unease when the age difference gets above a certain level and yet it is not uncommon for girls of 16 or 17 to be dating men of mid to late 20s and likewise men or women later in life may still have considerable attraction to people far younger. This is not paedophilia of course but it does suggest that there can be relationships outside one’s generational peers that can be constructive in part whilst not being agreed on by everyone. It is a moral dilemma but one most of us can cope with broadly-speaking because someone who is physically and emotionally immature generally does not invoke feelings of attraction amongst those of us who purport to be mature in both departments.

Contrary to popular belief sexual assault in very young children is more often carried out by other under-age children or women rather than men. Our media obsession with paedophiles has portrayed a hackneyed stereotype of a middle-aged man in a raincoat who hangs around playgrounds. Whilst this perception continues the public will fail to understand the full nature of the problem and consequently movements toward any form of understanding and potential solution will be hampered. Of course as this carries on capitalist industry continues to make money out of children through sweatshops, advertising and promotions and as such erodes the sense of childhood and this has to be studied carefully to determine how damaging this may be in terms of passing on a perception of children to society at large.

There is no question that the paedophiles must be incarcerated, they are a danger to one of the most vulnerable sections of society and as such cannot be allowed to harm them. However it is vital that they are given considerable counselling in order for the medical world to attempt to understand this disorder with a view to seeing if there is any way of preventing it from happening or perhaps gaining insight to provide some form of early-warning system. To lock these people up and throw away the key would be to deny us the chance of stopping what is one of the most fundamental of taboos. I cite the example of paedophilia not to be an apologist of any sort but to attempt to show that we, as a society gain nothing from simple imprisonment of a criminal section of people if we are not going to learn how to prevent in the future.

To imprison people without any form of integrated strategy is yet another example of an abdication of responsibility. We are all born with a degree of moral understanding but this can with social factors be eroded if not nurtured properly. It is all very well to teach people that you cannot steal from others but if the very structure of our society is so hell-bent on judging people by what they have and not who they are it is small wonder that many will seek whatever means necessary to improve their standing. Not everyone will choose this route it is true but not everyone shares the same upbringing and therefore status and image is not as important to some as others. Similarly it is obvious that in schools we should be taught that violence is wrong and yet the macho culture does nothing to reinforce this message, likewise the sexualisation and early adultisation of children for use by those who would make money from them has the rather obvious side-effect of eroding the respect that many have for children especially of certain ages. It is all about cause and effect and it is a serious dereliction of duty for all of us not to ensure that the link between the two remains clear and not divorced from each other for financial or political expediency.

Song Of The Day ~ Franz Ferdinand – I’m Your Villain

Original Comments:

The Fat Boy made this comment,
hey RB, what’s up?
comment added :: 9th December 2005, 17:09 GMT+01 ::