Archive for the 'Punishment' Category

18
Nov
07

More car crushing idiocy…

It would appear that Australia is taking a page from Californias law book of senseless and excessive practices:

Street racers in Australia will soon see their beloved cars being deliberately smashed by the authorities in videos posted on the Internet.

The often flashy, souped-up vehicles will be wrecked in crash tests under laboratory conditions, the New South Wales state government announced. – [Yahoo/AFP]

Now I’m sure some of you out there are thinking “Serves them right!”, but I assure you, this law is not a good thing. There is a reason this hasn’t been done in the past. This is technically a violation of an individuals rights. When convicted killers go to prison, even they do not have their belongings destroyed. They may be confiscated and cataloged, but they get them back when they get out. If they get out.

So how exactly can anyone think that this is a fair penalty for any lesser crime? I’d rather impose this penalty for drunk drivers, rather than street racers. At least the street racers are actually in full control of their faculties, and some of them (let me iterate the *some*) are actually really good drivers. The same cannot be said for drunks. But the kicker is that ultimately, as a deterrent, it wouldn’t work for that either.

These kinds of knee-jerk, intimidation-based legislative decisions set very dangerous precedents that could have very profound future ramifications. And to top it off, it’s not like this is going to deter anyone from street racing anyway. Most of the folks who street race will do it regardless of the penalties. Literally. These laws are little more than public displays to make others feel like something is being done about the problem, when in fact, it will have little effect on any hard core racers.

However to their credit, the Australians have adopted a better use for the vehicles than just crushing them. They will be used for crash tests. Which is orders of magnitude better than Californias pointless “crush ’em all” solution. But both laws are seriously troublesome. The law will have to be very specific on what constitutes “street racing”, and even then I’m sure many police officers will still abuse it, much like how the “aggressive driving” box is seemingly checked on tickets at will, as opposed to, let’s say, the tickets of drivers who actually meet the legal definition of “aggressive driving”…

Aussie street racers to see cars crashed by govt – [Yahoo/AFP]

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15
Nov
07

Use the crosswalk… Or else…

Most of the time, I find myself ranting about the flaws in our legal system, but today we have a unfortunate example of a man who appears to have a rather poor grasp of the basics, and subsequently cause himself a little more grief than neccesary:

Leroy Franklin Cladd Jr. was cited for not using a crosswalk late Thursday night. He balked at signing the ticket, a misdemeanor that landed him in jail. He was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time, police said. – [Yahoo/AP]

OK. To be fair, I can see where this guy erred. Honestly, why would they throw you in jail for jaywalking? But that’s the problem. They didn’t throw him in jail for jaywalking. They threw him in jail for refusing to answer to the charge of jaywalking. Big difference.

In case you don’t see the difference, let me spell it out for you. Jaywalking. No big deal. But if, perchance, you get caught by a bored officer with nothing better to do, you get a citation. The citation is merely a charge, an accusation of an infraction. Your signature on a citation is not an admission of guilt or innocence, it is simply a way of legally ensuring that you will show up, to either challenge the accusation, or admit guilt and make restitution.

If you don’t sign, you are not legally bound to voluntarily answer to the charge at a later date, so the only way to ensure that this happens is to arrest you on the spot, throw you in jail, and bring you before the next available judge. It’s that simple. It may seem a little harsh for a crime as piddling as jaywalking, but there you have it. The law ain’t perfect.

Seriously, the man should have just signed the doggone citation. At least that way, he might have had a few drinks at the bar before they came and arrested him for not showing up in court…

Fla. man jailed for jaywalking – [Yahoo/AP]

30
Aug
07

What kind of kids are we raising?

I think that America, as a culture, we have started down a long slippery slope towards self imprisonment. We are stripping away from ourselves the very freedoms we hold dear. I see it every day. Even in some of the most innocuous things:

On the playground of a northern Colorado Springs elementary school, tag is not “it.”

The touch-and-run game and any other form of chasing was banned this year at Discovery Canyon Campus’ elementary school by administrators who say it fuels schoolyard disputes.

“It causes a lot of conflict on the playground,” said Assistant Principal Cindy Fesgen. In the first days of school, before tag was banned, she said students would complain to her about being chased or harassed.

Fesgen said she would hear: “Well, I don’t want to be chased, but he won’t stop chasing me, or she won’t stop chasing me.” – [The Colorado Springs Gazette]

Is this what we want our kids to do? How do we expect our kids to learn anything about people and life, if every time they run into a problem we ban it wholesale? How are they going to learn how to deal with each other? Learn how to handle people and their idiosyncracies? When will they understand that not everything is going to go our way, and that not everything is under our control?

And even worse, how do we teach those kids what they can and cannot do? How do we teach kids that you cannot harass someone just because? Banning tag isn’t going to teach that. All this teaches them is if you don’t like it, get it banned. No tolerance, no patience, no  understanding. Nothing else will be learned by this action. The playground will have one less game, and the children will have one less avenue  to learn about others and themselves.

 Nationally, several schools have done away with tag and other games because of the accidents and arguments they can lead to. It’s a trend that has rankled some parents and childhood experts who say games such as tag contribute to children’s social and physical development. – [The Colorado Springs Gazette]

Apparently, even childhood experts can see the flaw in this way of thinking. And yet we have schools, communities, cities, states and even federal legislation that allow exactly the same thing to happen on a national level. What’s the betting that this is all fueled by the same mentality? People don’t seem to be able to see the big picture. It may sound like an unlikely slippery slope, but at the rate we are going, sooner or later, we will legislate ourselves out of our own personal freedoms.

Believe it or not. Your choice. But I have seen enough insanity to tell me that it’s possible. I can only hope we either come to our senses, or I’m not around when we finally lock ourselves in and throw away the key…

Springs elementary gives tag a timeout – [Colorado Springs Gazette]

23
Aug
07

Kids NEED discipline and guidance people…

I frequent a number of social help sites and message boards. I do it to help me understand people better. I do learn a lot, but I am constantly struck by how often people tend to confuse issues. Especially when it comes to raising kids. Like spanking. And discipline. Or never learn important life lessons for themselves.

I am all about letting kids learn to be their own person, but they need somewhere to start. A good framework to base their character on. If you want them to become positive, productive members of society, they need to be taught values/ethics and morals. They cannot learn these things on their own.

I have been quite vocal on this blog about the problems of society in general being the result of a lack of parental child raising discipline. Or, even worse, the parents teaching kids the wrong lessons. The results of this is all around us. And the evidence is equally salient. Here are a couple of examples:

A 12-year-old British boy appeared in court Wednesday charged with assault for throwing a sausage at a pensioner, police said.

Hmm. Odd… Let’s read on…

The youth, who can’t be named, was arrested after a 74-year-old man reported him to police for throwing a stone in Manchester, northern England.

The object turned out to be a cocktail sausage.

“Charging was the only option because the boy had previously been issued with three reprimands on separate occasions,” a Greater Manchester Police spokeswoman said.

OK, this kid obviously has issues. What was even more disturbing to me was the way this kids mother responded to all of this:

The boy’s mother described the decision to charge her son as “an absolute joke,”

The boy’s mother said her son was worried he might be sent to prison. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Now it may just be me, but it sounds like this kids mother is more worried about the penalties her son may face, rather than the fact that on 4 separate occasions (including this latest instance), her son has acted in an undisciplined and inappropriate manner? Didn’t she feel the need to discipline her child for that behavior? How about making him apologize to the pensioner? How about being a parent?

This kid is in court because he is unruly and inconsiderate. Or more likely, his mom has let him become that way. He is NOT in court because he threw a cocktail wiener at an old guy. Perhaps it is extreme to have to go to court for being a rambunctious kid, but if you’ve had the police called on you 4 times already, then obviously something has to be done.

I realize that there are cases where discipline is difficult, and I can only speculate on what is happening in that household, but from what I’ve read, I think MOM should be in court. Much better motivation to discipline her kid. Or not. But at least that way, when she shows up in court, it will be because she made the conscious decision to let her son do whatever he wants, and is willing to bear the consequences of both of their actions.

If I had done that to my Mom, she would have been mortified! She probably would have handed me over to the police herself! The thing is, the very first time I did something like that, I would have been severely disciplined. Regardless of whether it was a spanking, being disallowed to go hang out with my friends, no pocket money that week, whatever, I would have been taught that what I had done was wrong. It doesn’t matter what specific method was used, I would have learned not to do it again.

Instead, this kids mom probably defends everything he does, and he is now in court. He probably still doesn’t truly realize that what he did was wrong. What’s even worse is that he may still get off because he is a juvenile. Saddest of all, is the possibility that he will never learn anything from the experience because his mom will probably tell him that none of this was justified, and that he has been victimized by the authorities.

His antisocial behavior will continue, now with an added hatred for the police, and any/all authority figures. And when he finally grows up and decides to join some criminal organization, and a pursue a life of crime his mom will spend many a sleepless night asking herself where she went wrong raising him… Or not. She may keep cheering him on regardless. And yet we wonder why our kids are so jacked up…

Here’s another example, a worse scenario, with a rather blatant display of parental ignorance:

A mother and father are facing charges they encouraged their 13-year-old daughter to fight another girl. Debra Sue Grubb, 33, is charged in Kanawha County Magistrate Court with misdemeanor battery after allegedly forcing her daughter Gabrielle to fight 14-year-old Megan Willis near the Grubbs’ home on Aug. 15, Trooper J.M. Comer said Wednesday.

Are you kidding me? I could understand a parent telling their kid to stand up for, or defend themselves against bullying, but this?

At one point, Grubb allegedly grabbed her daughter by the arm and used her daughter’s body as a weapon to knock Megan to the ground.

Thomas Leon Grubb, 35, is charged with misdemeanor assault. Comer said Grubb is accused of threatening to harm two boys who were with Megan if they tried to break up the fight.

“It turned into a mess,” Comer said. “The two parents allowed this to happen when it should have been handled by the parents.”
– [Yahoo/AP]

You know, I almost don’t even know what to say about this. Obviously these parents never learned that violence is not the solution for everything. In fact it sounds like the kids may have been better off without their involvement. Much like the irate cussing YouTube parent I talked about before, the problem here is that even the parents don’t know any better. The only thing that might save the kids is if they end up being more intelligent than their parents, and figure this out on their own.

Then I run across parents on the message boards I was taking about earlier asking how to get their kids to do things like chores, dishes, cleaning, homework, even their own freakin’ laundry… It amazes me… Parents, your kids need discipline. The whole spanking /non-spanking issue is stupid. It’s in your head. Spanking is only abuse if you use it to vent your frustration. When used correctly, it is a tool, just like any other. And there are many of them. Use your head. Use what you know will work. Try a bunch of different things.

Just use them correctly. You can still psychologically abuse a child if you misuse a non-physical punishment. Do not punish out of anger, or out of frustration, or out of weariness or fear. Use these tools for discipline. To teach important life lessons. To teach them to be considerate of others. To be good human beings. Kids need this in order to become healthy adults. Do not deny them that opportunity.

Boy in court for throwing sausage – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Parents accused of encouraging fight – [Yahoo/AP]

21
Aug
07

Killers: Life, death, and the gray paradox in between…

Given that earlier today, I posted my opinion on what I think the criteria of a true “killer” is, I find it ironic that I should run across an article dealing with the ethics of the death penalty for a person who meets the legally circumscribed definition of a “Killer”:

“The European Union notes with great regret the upcoming execution in the State of Texas,” the Portuguese presidency of the 27-nation bloc said in a statement.

Texas is expected to hit the 400 mark on Wednesday — putting it far ahead of any other U.S. state — with the execution of Johnny Ray Conner for the 1998 shooting of a grocery store clerk.

The European Union, which on Tuesday called the death penalty “cruel and inhumane,” is opposed to all capital punishment and has called for its worldwide abolition.

“There is no evidence to suggest that the use of the death penalty serves as a deterrent against violent crime,” the statement said, adding that its irreversibility meant that miscarriages of justice could not be redressed. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

What I find most interesting about this article, is the EUs objection to the death penalty on the grounds that it:

  1. Has not proven to be a deterrent against violent crime.
  2. Is cruel and inhumane.

Oh really? I might actually have bought reason one, if the sole purpose of the death penalty was to be a deterrent to violent crime. But most of the people whom I think would think deserve the death penalty are people who could watch someone getting brutally massacred right before their eyes without batting an eye, and proceed to enjoy a steak dinner like nothing happened and then sleep like a baby that night. IMHO The death penalty is not a deterrent. It’s cleanup.

That’s not to say that the death penalty couldn’t be a good deterrent for the more normal types of killers. It’s just that nobody thinks it’s going to happen to them unless they actually see it happen, up close and personal. Humans are visual creatures. If you really want to make an impression on them, you have to show them. How many people you know have actually ever seen an execution occur? I’m willing to bet few to none. So how exactly is it intended to be a deterrent?

And point 2 is laughable at best. Is life in prison supposed to be less cruel than death? Sure you’ll be alive, but it won’t exactly be a picnic either. Many who get life ending up serving a reduced sentence anyway due to bing killed in prison. And inhumane? There are such things as humane executions. Is death by lethal injection inhumane? I don’t think so. If I had to go, what better way than to just fall asleep an never wake up again. Quick and painless. I don’t think it gets any more humane than that.

Now obviously, I have no intrinsic objections to the death penalty. There are some people who will never be able to function in a socially constructive way, and can never be rehabilitated. And I think these people only pose a continuing threat to the well being of everyone else, and can safely (in my opinion anyway) be removed from society. But there are problems.

The biggest problem, is the only valid objection I saw in the article. The fact that the death penalty is irreversible, and if there is a mistake there is no way to rectify it. I can’t argue that, because our legal system has many flaws. Innocent people are found guilty and the guilty walk free. On the basis of that alone, we ought to abolish the death penalty. Not because it’s not a good solution for eliminating incurably violent criminals from society, but because the system too flawed to accurately determine who really deserves that penalty.

The legal system, for all of it’s massive and highly detailed rules and regulations, is still run and decided by living, breathing, human people. Each person has different belief system, different ideas of right and wrong, and different thresholds and tolerances for things. And few cases feature objective and irrefutable evidence like a video camera or an audio tape that tells the whole story in an accurate and objective manner. The judge and jury often has to make assumptions and decisions based on assumptions. It’s just isn’t morally or ethically responsible to base anyones death on human assumptions and feelings.

But even if the system could determine with 100 percent accuracy who should get the chair, we can’t kid ourselves about what we are doing. There is a paradox to this way of thinking. We are, in effect murdering a person in cold blood. Yes, we are doing it to save the lives of others that we know could be killed if the killer is allowed to continue to live. But we are being killers ourselves, simply because do not have, and cannot come up with, a better solution. Imagine that. We have no imagination…

EU urges Texas to halt executions before 400 mark – [Yahoo/Reuters]




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