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Lynette
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So in another thread a spin off topic got going which is heading into a much more interesting discussion than the OP topic (IMO).

Therefore I am starting this thread to discuss the relative values of justice, repentance, redemption and/or absolution overall.

I want to start this with a caveat that in real life, which is messy and deals with complex real humans, it is almost impossible to achieve human Justice in terms of parity of outcome. If for no other reason than even measuring parity of damage is almost impossible. Stealing $100 from a single parent with hungry kids is far more damaging than stealing $5000 from Bill Gates. While the law seeks to establish parity by establishing guidelines and standards like petty theft vs grand larceny, it clearly in many cases won't be able to achieve that lofty goal.

So for this conversation I want to talk about ideals of justice certainly, but not just ideals of perfect justice but also the realities of attempting to mete out justice in an imperfect world.


Here is the set up information that inspired this thread: link to relevant start of spin off drift from previous thread

Watching the whole tract video that inspired the spin off is time consuming so for those not interested in watching the whole thing here is a brief summary: Basically in it a man deals with a chain of life adversity situations by becoming abusive to his family to an absurdly sicking level. Including sexually abusing his daughter and allowing a neighbor to do so as well. The mother knows it is going on and does nothing to stop it. When later confronted by a Doctor who has examined the daughter and found out the truth, who also then tells them the Gospel and calls upon them to repent for their awful deeds the father and mother both then repent, confess to their horrible deeds, and then change their outlook and ways of living. The family going on to a happy ending life together with no criminal accounting for the previous bad behaviors is strongly implied by the story ending at this point.

Now just to be 100% clear... I have a problem with this Tract in that I think it totally oversimplifies a HUGE set of problems that while certainly are rooted in evil and fixable, they just don't change like magic even when honestly confronted and repented of. And even once genuine repentance and change occurs, repentance and absolution also require steps to help repair damage done and healing for victims is not easy nor instantaneous.

But... IF we assume a merely super condensed story synopsis of a more complex reality, aka genuine admission of a problem and repentance CAN affect real and lasting change in even monstrous people, we get to the part of the discussion that I think was worth a new thread. Victim healing and the value of objective rigid applications of justice in all situations.

So here is the relevant IMO discussion that has gone on up to now.


rcbevco wrote:
Meerkat wrote:
rcbevco wrote:


The tract is about redemption and salvation no matter how horrible you are. As an atheist I believe the father in the story is entitled to neither and deserves the worst possible punishment in this life to hedge our bets. JC (Jack Chick) thinks the father is saved through belief and could still go to heaven if he lives a godly life from here on. Wow, just plain wow.


God can transform the truly genuinely repentant. Even the most monstrous of us.

We all accept that good people transform into MONSTERS all the time... Note the popularity of Breaking Bad. So why does the idea that people can be changed at the core back toward goodness offend you?

I really am just curious about this line of thinking that accepts paths of corruption as a given but rejects from the outset a path for redemption for those who have become deeply corrupted.


A change of heart should never be absolution.

I don't believe there are any gods. The paths of good and evil are purely man made (just like religion IMHO)and selected . It is deplorable to give that story a Ward & June Cleaver ending. If there is no God where is the justice for the daughter? In heaven with her now repentant abusive parents? EVEN if they promised to stop being shit-stains it only entitles them to a day in court and the only 100% guaranteed punishment we can offer. Whether the parents "found God" or not the story should have ended in a police station.



Do you think the little girl agrees with you? I am quite serious in asking. I know people who were sexually abused by family members as children.

I myself was emotionally and physically abused (non-sexually thankfully) at times in my youth. (Reminder I grew up in an alcoholic home)

How victims feel about those situations, even as adults and with counseling varies greatly not only from victim to victim but even from how they feel about different abusers when they were abused by more than one adult.

I think for a significant percentage of them, if not the majority, especially those who had very complex loving families in most respects except for periodic abusive aberrations, that genuine repentance and cessation of the abuse would be exactly the "happy ending" they desperately wished for then and STILL would choose decades later rather than public criminal "Justice" being imposed. Add to it the abuser taking steps to atone for the harm they have done and even more victims would likely choose this outcome rather than some social ideal of criminal justice and external punishment.

Yes some victims really do want their abusers to "Pay" for what they did, but when those abusers were/are people they love(d) most of them actually really want admission and genuine contrition far FAR more than "Justice". Especially because without those things they have a hard time ever healing from the damage. Seeing a perpetrator "pay" rarely if ever fixes damage done if it isn't accompanied by genuine admission of guilt and regret for doing the harmful thing in the first place. Because a great deal of the harm comes from the betrayal of trust by a loved one. Which no amount of external punishment can fix.

The world is rarely black and white especially when human emotions come into play.

The kind of rigid thinking which totally discounts the value of repentance and change is the kind that leads to things like Mandatory Minimum sentences and Three Strike laws which really don't tend to work out as well in practice as they do in theory. Sure they attempt to keep bad people from getting away with being endlessly repeat offenders, but at the same time it also catches a lot people who are not yet fully corrupted lost causes and often turns them into ones. In addition these often end up damaging the innocent and victims almost as much as the criminals.

Even from a purely secular standpoint, hard core Justice has a very limited value in terms of healing damage done to victims of any serious crime. We as a society embrace Justice because we have no way to compel genuine repentance and restitution so we must make due with pseudo revenge in the form of punishment and hope that fear of consequences acts as a deterrent.

As I see it, Secular Criminal Justice typically has 3 main goals.

1) Protection of society through deterrence via fear of punishment and if/when that fails removal of criminal elements from the general population.

2) Rehabilitation of criminals so they will hopefully not repeat criminal behaviors.

3) Justice and closure/healing for the victims in the form of punishment of the perpetrators for the crimes done against them.

But Justice alone without genuine repentance rarely is corrective to perpetrators nor genuinely healing for the victims. Which is part of why I think legal justice that is not tempered with perspective, flexibility and mercy is rarely effective in actually affecting genuine CHANGE in society overall. Sure it is sometimes the only system we have at our disposal as mere mortal humans, because it is impossible to force genuine repentance and change in the hearts and minds of others. However changing hearts and minds clearly is the BEST possible outcome if it could be achieved. That is why rehabilitation is always at least given lip service as a goal of even secular penal systems.

So obviously in general as a society we do acknowledge that most people have at least a potential for rehabilitation after committing crimes or else we would have to keep them locked up for life in all cases. Rehabilitation is really just a fancy secular term for repentance and change. And yet our justice system has a horrible recidivism rate. So clearly we aren't actually managing the rehabilitation part very well.

In the Tract Story... the Rehabilitation part was achieved without the criminal justice system, yet you (rcbevco) are appalled at this hypothetical result. So clearly what you find appalling is that the ultimate end goal was achieved without direct external punishment for the offense.

Does this mean that ultimately you see a value to punishment purely as a stand alone component of Justice? Does this apply in your mind to all crimes or just some especially heinous ones?

If that is your stance I am curious about two things then.

First which do you think is ultimately MORE important in the long run big picture, even from a purely secular standpoint, the punishment or the rehabilitation?

If we take deterrence off the table, aka a private case that won't see any publicity, where rehabilitation has occurred without punishment, and applying punishment now would harm the victim as much or more than the perpetrator, does that alter in any way your feelings? Why or Why not?

Do victims have a moral right in your opinion to grant absolution if they choose in cases were the offending actions are still not publicly known?

Second Given that it is impossible to actually achieve uniformity of outcome in terms of victim damage and victim healing, should the victim's added or lessened pain matter in public cases where deterrence and punishment plays a greater society role as part of the equation?

Obviously there is another conversation to be had once humanist and/or religious ideologies that take into account the intrinsic value of the offender as an individual whose character and/or soul also matters. Which I would certainly like to segue into as well. But I didn't want the OP to become too overburdened. So I will write up my thoughts about that in a separate post to add to this thread later.

PS it is getting late in the day so I may not be able to respond to any replies until tomorrow, but since I have this much ready to go I am posting it now anyway.
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As a preliminary note, I'll note that a pedo that let his neighbor abuse his daughter is probably the type of lifelong predator who will never have a change of heart let alone redemption. But that aside...

I think all of the three goals of punishment are worthy of consideration. But which goal is most important likely varies directly with the crime, almost necessarily. For example, crimes conducted by those in the heat of the moment or on a whim are probably little deterred by sentencing maximums. Crimes requiring a certain degree of forethought are far more likely to be deterred than say a violent murder in anger. Or a crime driven by a certain defective mental state like pedophilia.

Similarly, rehabilitation seems on the surface to be a worthy goal. But a person afflicted with something as deep rooted as pedophilia is less likely to be subject to rehabilitation through any means.

And then we come to retribution, which many a bleeding heart will sniff in derision at. To me, it's a necessary thing to condemn in this life the evils that harm others in our society. I don't believe in an afterlife, so the only justice for a victim is only really accomplished by the retributive aspect of punishment.

Now obviously, in your example, if the victim truly wanted the father not to be punished, then perhaps we should take that into account. I think many victims, however, tend to be really screwed up emotionally about the crime and the perpetrator, particularly when it's a family member. So I'm not sure that an emotionally fragile person's viewpoint should control this situation.

And more than that, the Chick tract is a situation where all of the goals of punishment point to maximum punishment. The crime is horrific, the victim is of an age and at a point of recovery where they are unable to make a truly non-biased decision, the perpetrator is very unlikely to be reformable, and the perpetrator is very likely to repeat. Because we live in the real world, not a Chick tract.

Finally, I think punishment is retributive for more reasons than just justice for a single victim. It's a declaration by society of what is contemptible and what actions should remove the person as a functioning member of such society.
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Dane Peacock
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Meerkat wrote:


As I see it, Secular Criminal Justice typically has 3 main goals.

1) Protection of society through deterrence via fear of punishment and if/when that fails removal of criminal elements from the general population.

2) Rehabilitation of criminals so they will hopefully not repeat criminal behaviors.

3) Justice and closure/healing for the victims in the form of punishment of the perpetrators for the crimes done against them.


Good job Meerkat.

1) There are some really bad dudes out there. Public safety from known criminals is important.

2) Rehabilitation should always be the goal. We can't give up on anybody. However - how many crimes are committed by repeat, "rehabilitated" offenders? My Dad worked as a judge. I would visit the small jail with him often. I never met a person in there who wasn't sorry for their crime. I am sure some were genuinely sorry for their crimes, others were only sorry that they had been caught, but they all acted the same. So, so sorry.

3)Justice is important. A couple of years ago a twenty-something year old stabbed my son's 17 year old friend six or seven times, killing him in front of several of his friends. Yes, keep this murderer off the streets. Yes, try and rehabilitate him. Yes, punish him. I guarantee if you talked to him right now he would be so very sorry for stabbing that one black kid to death. So, so sorry. Super sorry and no sir I will never stab another kid six or seven times ever again no sirree. Honest, I am completely rehabilitated your honor.

Also, why is everyone fine with punishment being prison time? I brought this up before, but a teenager went to trial for cutting-off a little girl's hair. The Judge gave the Mom a choice - spend time locked-up in juvie, which was the default sentence, or cut the teen's hair off right there in court and do some community service. The Mother chose to cut her daughter's hair off. People here and on the news were shocked. Shocked! Eye for an eye! How horrible! I contended that this would be an awesome teaching moment and it would make much more of a positive impact on the teen's life. But it was too extreme for many who just wanted her thrown in jail like all good criminals.
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Based upon my poor understanding of history, science, and ethics...
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You all see it as nitpicking.

I see a significant point upon which this entire discussion rests.

In the US we no longer have a justice system. What is "just" is rarely considered, and often legally prohibited from being considered.

We have a legal system. Only what is legal or can be twisted to be legal matters.
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Meerkat wrote:
As I see it, Secular Criminal Justice typically has 3 main goals.

1) Protection of society through deterrence via fear of punishment and if/when that fails removal of criminal elements from the general population.

2) Rehabilitation of criminals so they will hopefully not repeat criminal behaviors.

3) Justice and closure/healing for the victims in the form of punishment of the perpetrators for the crimes done against them.

As I see it there is a 4th very important goal.

It is to avoid the necessity of the victim or his/her family having to take revenge. Revenge can/does lead to a tit for tat endless exchange of revenges. This would be fine for a hunter-gatherer society where people can go "hide" in a far corner of the territory or go join a different band. In a farming society or modern society this doesn't work. It is too hard to flee. So, we invented the concept of "criminal justice" to substitute for vengeance.

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Kelsey Rinella
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Even if the abuser were completely reformed, there'd be no way for the rest of us to know that. Part of the idea of punishment is supposed to be that it's a thing we can all identify which we know provides a motive to reform. As She2 pointed out, that's an old theory which we know doesn't work much of the time, but nobody seems to have figured out an ideal replacement.

But, as Steve points out, the point of a legal system is to make everyone feel as though their concerns were heard fairly, so nobody needs to get violent to square things.

The little girl is an interesting case, because we wouldn't really trust her judgment about whether her father is reformed, so let's consider her mother. I would think that, barring an additional religious revelation which persuaded her of the reformation of her husband, she'd want to keep him around, but have unusually available support and various control/self-defense measures in case of recidivism. If he didn't share her finances, I'd expect her to want the cost of that additional readiness to fall on him. She ought to have everything she would need to defend herself from him and/or to take her kids and get to a safe place, and the husband ought to be forced to provide them. Make him buy and stock a go bag, install a lock on his daughter's door to which he doesn't have a key, perhaps give his wife and daughter cell phones to which he does not have access--that kind of thing. He might also forfeit some privacy, so that law enforcement could monitor him for any signs of continued sexual interest in children.

Those are the kinds of measures which aren't deliberately punitive, but are a natural consequence of his behavior and the loss of trust it causes, and which don't make his victim worse off. That's my biggest problem with the default sentence of prison--it's worse for the victims than the presence of a reformed perpetrator, properly controlled. Provided everyone involved consents, I think chemical castration might be a reasonable option, as well--the guy's daughter has little reason to want him to want sex, and even if he's completely reformed now, how could we know that the Lord's grace won't depart him in the future?
 
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Based upon my poor understanding of history, science, and ethics...
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When you spank a child, you not only have the attention of that child, you have the attention of every kid in the room.

I note on the stretch of highway between my house and town that speed gradually increases over time. Then WHAM cops make the road a priority for several days straight and start pulling people over. Speed goes down, then gradually back up again over a period of a month or so.

For every car they pull over, 200 cars traveling in each direction see the flashing lights and know what is going on. Seeing the punishment affects them immediately, and influences their speed for a period of time.

Point being: good people will push their luck if they don't see punishment doled out. If people see their friends shoplifting without consequence, a good person may be tempted to shoplift. They will certainly be remorseful if caught, but their punishment affects the behavior of ALL of their friends.

Punishment serves society well and should not be viewed in a vacuum as an archaic or vindictive act.
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Lynette;

No matter how heartfelt, saying "I'm sorry" does not do much. In general, for forgiveness, the victim (the only one who can forgive anything) must be satisfied that the person has made amends. Now the victim has the right to waive any sort of restitution, etc., but when it comes to something like sexual abuse of a child, no amends is really possible; the damage is just too much.
 
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Oh, brother!

If only Meerkat had only been joking and doing a spoof a la Saturday Night Live's classic "Bad Theater" comedy sketches, only in this case paying tribute to badly-written religious tracts.

However, alas, she is not. Instead, Meerkat seems to be offering some disingenuously understated apologistic remarks in a foolhardily futile attempt to find some seemingly redemptive qualities in those hate- and bigotry-filled Chick Tracts whereas their self-righteously narrow-minded and overwrought moralizing betrayed any genuinely edifying intent. Indeed, trying to find something redemptive about Chick Tracts is about as disingenuous as trying to find redeeming qualities in the anti-Semitic cartoons published in the Nazi German newspaper Der Sturmer like the one below which advanced the myth that Jews drew the blood of kidnapped Christian babies in order to make their leaven bread for Passover meals.





In an evocatively similar venal fashion, Chick Tracts emulated the propagandistic excesses of "Der Sturmer" in fostering misleading, denigrating, and downright mendacious stereotypes. I also don't have to wonder why the cartooning of Chick Tracts reminds me of the anti-Semitic cartoons from Der Sturmer, either, because they are somewhat similar.

For example, here's how Chick Tracts characterized gay people.






By the way, the guys who made the video that Meerkat referred to were the same guys who'd also created those Chick Tract re-enactment videos in which they satirically acted out the storylines of the tracts. While they may not have been genuinely feigning remorse about the death of Jack Chick, they were satiricially lamenting that there would be no more new Chick Tracts for them to act out.


 
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Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's.

The law has its due. What is so hard about that?
 
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Since I had a part in inspiring this thread I'll clarify and expound on my original statement.

There is essentially two standards a person is held to the secular and the divine.

Secular law has crimes and punishment we have as a society recognize as what is acceptable and what isn't. To some extent a crime is a crime and if guilty you deserve the punishments society deems appropriate. Does this nullify remorse, repentance and absolution? No. That's what parole hearings and reduced sentences, time off for good behavior are theoretically for.

Divine law is the degree to witch we are ultimately accountable to a higher power after death. To say that secular law or negative circumstances are a form of divine punishment pre death is unsubstantiated. Doesn't bad things happen to good people too? Divine punishment allows a degree of satisfaction when a killer walks free. We can breath a sigh of relief and say "well he'll still have to answer to God", but will he? To say that is to assume there is a God in the first place, which I don't. Redemption and forgiveness make this worse IMHO. Jeffery Dahmer became quite religious while in prison. Let's say for the sake of argument that he sincerely believed, repented, asked for forgiveness and accepted Jesus as his savior. Did he go to heaven? Who knows? Many might argue that he would. I'm sure everyone agrees that he deserved to go to prison here, on earth.

So were does this put me. As I said, laws have consequences and if you are found guilty all the redemption in the world doesn't erase the crime nor does forgiveness from the victim. Especially when theistically implored to "turn the other cheek". Now I know that gray areas exist. But put me down as being behind the only punishment we know for a fact will be enforced.

 
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she2 wrote:
As a preliminary note, I'll note that a pedo that let his neighbor abuse his daughter is probably the type of lifelong predator who will never have a change of heart let alone redemption. But that aside...

I think all of the three goals of punishment are worthy of consideration. But which goal is most important likely varies directly with the crime, almost necessarily. For example, crimes conducted by those in the heat of the moment or on a whim are probably little deterred by sentencing maximums. Crimes requiring a certain degree of forethought are far more likely to be deterred than say a violent murder in anger. Or a crime driven by a certain defective mental state like pedophilia.

Similarly, rehabilitation seems on the surface to be a worthy goal. But a person afflicted with something as deep rooted as pedophilia is less likely to be subject to rehabilitation through any means.

And then we come to retribution, which many a bleeding heart will sniff in derision at. To me, it's a necessary thing to condemn in this life the evils that harm others in our society. I don't believe in an afterlife, so the only justice for a victim is only really accomplished by the retributive aspect of punishment.

Now obviously, in your example, if the victim truly wanted the father not to be punished, then perhaps we should take that into account. I think many victims, however, tend to be really screwed up emotionally about the crime and the perpetrator, particularly when it's a family member. So I'm not sure that an emotionally fragile person's viewpoint should control this situation.

And more than that, the Chick tract is a situation where all of the goals of punishment point to maximum punishment. The crime is horrific, the victim is of an age and at a point of recovery where they are unable to make a truly non-biased decision, the perpetrator is very unlikely to be reformable, and the perpetrator is very likely to repeat. Because we live in the real world, not a Chick tract.

Finally, I think punishment is retributive for more reasons than just justice for a single victim. It's a declaration by society of what is contemptible and what actions should remove the person as a functioning member of such society.

Can't add anything to that. Well said.
 
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GameCrossing wrote:
Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's.

The law has its due. What is so hard about that?

Dominionists want to theocratize the government and replace secular law with Old Testament Biblical law, thus making God the de-facto titular head of government.



 
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ImaSokpupet wrote:
ShreveportLAGamer wrote:

For example, here's how Chick Tracts characterized gay people.


By the way, the guys who made the video that Meerkat referred to were the same guys who'd also created those Chick Tract re-enactment videos in which they satirically acted out the storylines of the tracts. While they may not have been genuinely feigning remorse about the death of Jack Chick, they were satiricially lamenting that there would be no more new Chick Tracts for them to act out.

Seems like a fairly accurate representation of gays.

Yeah... Right.... At least, it's fairly accurate in its depiction of the way that Dominionists, bigots, and theocrats malign LGBT people by advancing malignant stereotypes of them.





ImaSokpupet wrote:
Also, Chick Tracts will still exist, they have been using ghost writers for some time.

The fact that Chick Tracts exist and have used ghost writers in no meaningful way absolves them of the multitude of sins that they perpetrated in sanctimoniously denigrating and egregiously vilifying others. There's nothing remotely Christian about Chick Tracts, either. They're essentially the Devil's creations masquerading as tracts.


 
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Is he saying that Gordon Freeman was gay?
 
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