Friday, July 20, 2007

Here's An Interesting Question

This is part of Goldie's comment on Joe's post about Mr. White:
"There are many, many people who would condemn strangers to long prison sentences but when it's their friends or someone they know, they don't think these harsh penalties are justified. I'm sure that's just human nature, but still, I think the hypocrisy needs to be addressed."
My question, then, is which is the appropriate response? We can give remorse to people we know because we know there are more facets to them than just whatever heinous act they committed. When all we know of a person is that they committed a heinous act, then we are more prone to offer harsh penalties.

So is the act alone worthy of the harsh punishment, outside of what we know of them, or should we take into account the other facets of one's personality? It seems like Goldie, who is surprised at the lightness of the upcoming sentence, would argue the former, while clearly many others would argue the latter.

In this case, Mr. White's punishment seems about right to me. Given that he's no longer in a position to abuse his power over students and that he's going to register as a sex offender, it would seem like no more children are in the way of being mistreated. I guess that may be a leap, however, given the repeated nature of his actions.

Also worth mentioning is that I agree with Goldie in having sympathy for the kid(s) who were the victims here. I guess it is human nature, but these types of situations seem to lead to one choosing a side and looking down on the ones who are on the opposite side. Whether we we choose to loathe the alleged perpetrator who may have been falsely accused, or to loathe the accuser who is subject to scorn if we don't believe their story.

1 comment:

Goldie said...

For the record, on a personal level, I generally lean towards the understanding that every criminal "monster" is someone else's "loved one". Perhaps that is not the case with the most egregious and unlovable killers/rapists, etc. but I think that formula generally holds true. My point is that unless the perpetrator of the crime has friends in high places, there generally isn't an impact on the sentencing, which I think is going on here in Joe White's case.

So what then is the appropriate response? Contrary to the views you attribute to me, I believe we should offer compassion, mercy and an opportunity to be rehabilitated, to those to transgress our laws and social mores. And I think that opportunity to should exist almost across the board, and I would offer it equally to Joe White, as I would to the unknown "Average Joe Criminal", who I don't have a personal relationship with.

But in the absence of my sentencing code becoming law, I think Justice is best served by handing down equal sentences for equivalent offenses. I may be mistaken, but up to a year, seems like a fairly short period of incarceration given what he's been accused of and what he's pled guilty to, when compared with other sensational crimes of a similar nature.