The Difference Between Firmness and Cruelty

Why firmness is not cruelty, and law is not therapy

In such circumstances, I was alarmed but not altogether surprised to read that [crime victim] Marie, referring to the culprits’ current trial, did not want them to be locked up but rather that they should receive a punishment “so that they understand.”…

Presumably Marie had in mind something such as psychoanalysis, perhaps mixed with a little compulsory social work or planting flowers in municipal flowerbeds. This is like trying to talk reason to Pol Pot at the apogee of his power, to get him to stand down by persuading him that what he was doing was wrong.

Unfortunately, there will always be some very nasty people in the world, and not all of them will be deterred from carrying out nasty acts by whatever consequences they will suffer.

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