Monday, 21 May 2018

Oh How Clever We Are . . .

Crime and Punishment

The present NZ Government appears all at sea over crime and criminality.  In a nutshell, its naive and simplistic view is that crime is caused by social problems.  Fix society's problems within the sectors of Health, Education, and Welfare, and crime would drop away to nothing.  As is always the case, the Left runs this reductionist absurdity with a high octane dose of self-righteousness.

The Left sees itself as compassionate and nuanced on the matter.  It is deeply aware of the social causes of crime and criminality which have captured people, turning them into criminals.  It's love for such disadvantaged folk who have ended up in the prison system quickly morphs into self-righteousness.  It characterizes its ideological opponents as cruel, simplistic, narrow, and bigoted.  This implies that the Left is compassionate, nuanced, sophisticated, and broad-minded.

  • The Left presents itself as intelligent, advanced, and sophisticated.  It refuses to address criminality in a superficial manner.  It relishes the complexity of the social causes of crime because to pontificate and meditate upon such things creates a self-image of Leftist sophistication and intelligence.  Those who oppose Leftist sophistication are easily and readily characterised as red-necks.
  • The Left relishes the prospect of the State being cast as the Saviour and Redeemer of society.  Prisons are essentially negative in the "solutions" they offer to crime.  They punish by their very nature.  But the Left sees  that as both negative and cruel.  On the other hand, to use the power, resources, and functions of the State to redeem people from criminal lifestyles, is a high and holy calling.

At this point, the Left is feeling really good about itself.  Oozing moral superiority it stands forth as the Great Solution to NZ crime and criminality. Cue Andrew Little, the present Minister of Justice.

What the social liberals have long ago forgotten is that prisons--when properly constructed--perform at least three critical, equally important functions with respect to the criminal.  We may call this a Christian view of crime and punishment.

Firstly, they punish.  Sanctioning crime by incarceration, a removal of basic human freedom, is a punishment.  This is an essential, fundamental and critical part of the criminal and justice systems.  It ought to be both acknowledged and celebrated as a mark of justice and a just society.  On the contrary, most Leftists think this is the dirty, negative aspect of the justice system and the less said about it the better.

Secondly, prisons protect society from the depredations of criminals preying upon the innocent and law abiding.  This is often the last thing the Left considers, if at all, when patting its own sanctimonious back.  Because the Left's ideology on crime and punishment is dominated by ideas of guilt and pity towards criminals (that is, the criminal has been failed by society at large), protecting the law-abiding never rates highly in the Left's world-view.

Thirdly, prisons must reform as many criminals as possible.  Criminality is connected with the influences of friends, family, and associates.  Breaking the influence of the criminal's associations whilst in prison by means of education, lifestyle-coaching, training, and mentoring so that the criminal ceases to be such upon release is a vital part of a successful justice system.

Theorists on the Left rarely get beyond this third critical aspect of the prison and justice systems.  The Left's approach, then, is ironically reductionist, narrow, simplistic, unsophisticated and doomed to fail.

The Leftist belief that its approach to crime and punishment is sophisticated and clever is actually self-deluded.  It is one of the great ironies of our time.

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