Prison may not work for them, but it works for us

I have only just begun to read Spoilt Rotten, so I can’t be sure, but it looks as though Dalrymple’s new piece in the Spectator touches on many of the themes of his new book. The essay is a powerful argument against the recent push by Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke to reduce rates of imprisonment, in particular for those crimes that now receive short sentences. Dalrymple argues that Clarke’s thoughts reflect a sentimental view of incarceration that is all too common among the Western intelligentsia: that prison is for the benefit of the criminal and not the victim, that prisoners can be rehabilitated via technical means and that criminals not imprisoned will devote their attention to their families.

But he also says that Clarke’s views illustrate a devotion to a wider sentimental outlook, one that he explains here:

Sentimentality is hardness of heart, or even contempt, masquerading as feeling. It is to sympathy what incontinence is to urination (except, of course, that it is voluntary, and is vastly more destructive). It is mental and emotional laziness, a refusal to discipline the gratifying glow of self-regard by deeper reflection. It has rotted us through and through; it is the reason why it is necessary to remind our rulers that the protection of the population from crime is not an optional extra for the state once it has paid for the sex-change operations of those who want them, etc, but comes very close to the state’s whole raison d’être, and that rulers who fail in this regard are no longer legitimate, but parasites upon the body politic.

Read the whole piece here

4 thoughts on “Prison may not work for them, but it works for us

  1. Andrew S

    This article does not seem to be appearing when I click on the link. The comments are available however.

  2. John

    Andrew: The article is there, however something appears to have gone wrong with the formatting of the page. The text of the article is sitting below the left sidebar.

    In any case, thank you Steve for the link to the fulltext of the article. Much easier to read.

  3. Paul


    “a refusal to discipline the gratifying glow of self-regard by deeper reflection”

    …La Rochefoucauld de nos jours.


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