Monday, April 22, 2024

Crime and Punishment?

It's a funny thing about punishing crime and/or mistakes. Invariably, the one on the receiving end of the crime wants revenge. (AND if anyone is mealymouthed enough to say 'Oooh! THAT's bad. You ought not to seek revenge' it normally is someone who has not been a victim of a crime OR a victim of THAT crime) What of mistakes, then? Well, if you have had to suffer consequences arising out of that mistake, like your boss tearing strips off your favorite skin because of your subordinate mucking up the addition of two and two, it is inevitable that you would want to tear strips off your subordinate's skin in return. AND, yet, as I have parenthetically indicated earlier, there are virtue signalers who could go so far as to consider ANY punishment as vengeance-seeking.

Tiru, though, does not side them. Not in toto, that is.

Thakkaangu naadi thalaicchellaa vannatthaal otthaangu oruppadhu vendhu - Thirukkural

Only he, who neutrally judges a crime and metes appropriate punishment to ensure that the crime is nor repeated, is a fit leader - Loose translation

Yeah, yeah, Tiru said 'King' not 'Leader' but the fact is that, if he were around today, he would not pop up and scream that he meant it only for King Charles and not for Joe Biden OR Elon Musk or whoever. So, there! (In fact, he MAY probably say that he meant it more for Rishi Sunak and NOT for King Charles!)

The thing about both crime and mistakes is that, unless there are negative consequences, they tend to be repeated. After all, even with the Commandments, we are a species that say that the most important commandment is the Eleventh: 'Thou shalt not get caught'. Which, in effect, means that we fear not the sin, only the consequences. AND, thus, if you would drive behavior in desirable channels then you necessarily need to visit consequences upon those who commit undesirable acts.

The point also is that the punishment should be proportionate. Disproportionate punishment will not have desirable consequences. I mean, if someone steals a million dollars and your punishment is going to be 3 months community service, do you really feel that it will stop such crimes? On the other hand, if someone is caught in a minor traffic violation and the punishment is seven years hard labor, what do you think will happen to the automobile sales in that country? Would you get drivers for the public transport?

As would be the case in a company. Excessive punishment would lead to an exodus of employees; too lenient a punishment would lead to an inefficient operation.

Punishment is a form of feedback. Treat it as such and you'll know to measure it out appropriately. Give in to either your impulse to get your own back OR to think that ALL punishment is revenge, and you'll get a malfunctioning community.

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