aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Retributive Justice: the thinking man’s vengeance
OR “Vengeance” is to “Retributive Justice” as “Creation Science” is to “Intelligent Design.”
Every time I say something about reasonable sentences for sex offenders or call for a more forgiving culture with rehabilitation as a goal, somebody posts a comment pointing to this or that hideous indefensible crime suggesting… what? I don’t know. Maybe that I’ll be persuaded if I hear about the right crime?
My argument, of course, is that there are very real problems to be addressed but I believe that a more effective response would lead to a better, more just and healthier civilization with less crime.
While driving north for the holiday I heard, for the first time, the term ”Retributive Justice” and though I’ve spent too much time searching for the program I heard it on to dig up that particular argument, I believe it was in the context of Stanley Tookie Williams and thought it was someone from RedState.com. Lo and behold, on that very day there’s this entry at RedState:
[T]he true rationale for capital punishment is indeed justice. It is an approximation of the transcendent order of justice which God has ordained and which the legitimate sovereign, that is, the State, has an obligation to protect, despite the impossibility of its perfect achievement here below.
That a great many mistake vengeance for retributive justice is beyond dispute…
Hm, sounds like a distinction without a difference to me. Just exactly what is retributive justice?
Central to retributive justice are the notions of merit and desert. We think that people should receive what they deserve. This means that people who work hard deserve the fruits of their labor, while those who break the rules deserve to be punished. In addition, people deserve to be treated in the same way that they voluntarily choose to treat others. If you behave well, you are entitled to good treatment from others. [...]
The idea that we should treat people as they deserve is commonly accepted. We do not think that war criminals should be allowed to live carefree lives after committing unspeakable crimes against humanity.
However, there is a dangerous tendency to slip from retributive justice to an emphasis on revenge.
Conservative Christians are overrepresented among those who believe in retribution, rooting their support in “an eye for an eye” while not giving a second thought to “turn the other cheek” and all that is said about forgiveness in the name of God.
Restorative Justice, with its belief that everyone is entitled to “good treatment,” seems more Christian to me.
UPDATE: VT District Judge Edward Cashman on retribution, “I feel very strongly about retribution. And why? I didn’t come to that easily. It isn’t something that I started at. I started out as a just desert sentencer. I liked it. Across the line? Pop Them. Well, then I discovered it accomplishes nothing of value. It doesn’t make anything better.”
The pornification of public spaces
Jim Sleeper, Behind the Deluge of Porn, a Conservative Sea-Change:
The Thing that’s exposing itself to us increasingly is more degrading than porn because it’s so unchosen, so public, and so purely commercial: The pornification of public spaces and narratives, an eros-burning equivalent of second-hand smoke, isn’t malevolent as much as it’s a mindless groping of our persons to goose profits and market share. Don’t call it free speech; these sensors are beyond censors. They aren’t bringing us artists’ art, activists’ politics, or fellow-citizens’ opinions, and the only social message in their leering come-ons is this: “Our company can bypass your brain and heart and go for your erogenous and other viscera on its way to your wallet. Nothing personal, by the way.”
Nothing liberating, either - and my authority is the author of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, who thought porn “a sign of a diseased condition of the body politic.Ã¢â‚¬Â� D.H. Lawrence wasn’t ducking indictment or an inquest when he wrote in 1929, in “Pornography and Obscenity,” that “even I would censor genuine pornography, rigorously,” rebuffing “the insult it offers, invariably, to sex, and to the human spiritÃ¢â‚¬Â¦. There is no reciprocityÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ only deadening.” Lawrence hated porn because he exalted sexual love. He was happy that “the intelligent youngÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ are rescuing their young nudity from the stuffy, pornographical hole-and-corner underworld of their elders, and they refuse to sneak about the sexual relation.” He came as close as any well-known writer of his time to seconding Oscar Wilde’s defense of homosexuality. But unquestionably he’d have detested the commercialized, bare-it-all, flip side of porn’s sneaking secrecy that’s inundating us now, not least because, while he abhorred sneaking secrecy, he cherished modesty (and monogamy!).
And let’s not call our problem “liberal permissiveness.” American liberals such as Tipper Gore and Bill Bradley protested years ago that by feeding kids… “a menu of violence without context and sex without attachment,” as Bradley put it, Americans who are letting corporate investment drive our public culture are abusing “the all-important role of storytelling which is essential to the formation of moral education that sustains a civil society.” That protest was right, even if Gore’s call for warning labels was wrong.
Overzealous about customer service
Harrah’s wants to tag and track waitresses:
In what it refers to as a “pilot program,” the casino is using the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, which send out signals that are tracked through readers installed at various locations. Harrah’s has placed the readers on tables and bars in the beverage and gaming areas to determine how long it takes cocktail waitresses to serve customers, Harrah’s Entertainment Chief Information Officer Tim Stanley said. “It just looks at the cycle time between service,” he explained.
“We are taking some of that technology and attaching it to the beverage servers on the casino floor,” Stanley added. “We at Harrah’s are zealous about customer service. We know if customers have to wait too long for a drink or a coffee, they get upset.” The program, he said, was designed to cut down on wait times for the casino’s “best customers.” [...]
Stanley told the Business Press that the purpose of the RFID tags was not to designed to try to catch employees slacking on the job. Instead, he said, the measure could actually benefit overworked servers and bartenders by demonstrating the need for more staff at busy times.
Employee-performance monitoring, however, was a chief goal of the pilot program, according to an article posted last year on technology Web site, silicon.com. In an interview with the site, Stanley was paraphrased as saying, “one employee was caught ‘loafing’ and punished accordingly.” The Silicon.com interview went on to quote Stanley as saying, “Now that person we caught probably won’t be happy about it, but their co-workers should be.”
Eric has no problem with the monitoring; me, I’m sure this is the way of the future.
What I wonder, though, is how can we use the data to measure overworked exploitation and set the bar for productivity at some reasonable level rather than at the exceptional top performer’s level?
We have a five-day 40-hour workweek and overtime; these are socially agreed upon worker expectations measured in time. With this new level of granular measurement we should socially agree upon worker expectations, and be free to use such measurements to enforce worker protections.
How about a law that says if RFID data is collected, it must be made public with individually identifying data expunged?