If you know the rules of society and you deliberately break those rules, then you release society from all its obligations to you.
You can have no complaints when you reap the backlash from your misdemeanours.
If somebody commits a crime against me or my family which causes harm or disadvantage to us then I will show no mercy or forgiveness to the person who committed that law-breaking act.
My view is one of zero-tolerance to crime and zero-leniency to punishment.
Those that commit crime deserve to suffer. That suffering should be sufficient to make it deter both them and others from committing further crimes.
Society is currently too soft on its law breakers. We give them too many chances to mend their ways. We don’t make our punishments threatening enough or harsh enough.
And yes, there is an argument here that, if extended, favours capital punishment. If you knowingly commit murder then, as decreed by the opening sentence of this article, society has no duty or responsibility for you. You sacrifice your own human rights when you deliberately take away the right to life of somebody else.
Any excuses – emotional or mental – should carry no mitigation. Illness should not excuse you from your responsibilities to others.
As a society, our fear is that in relinquishing ourselves of any obligations to people because of their misdemeanours we make those people more of a threat than they might otherwise be. If we exclude them from society and the benefits that society can offer, then they may take revenge on society and become even more of a problem.
Those that are more sympathetic and liberal-minded would argue that they only commit crimes because society has let them down in the first place. Some people aren’t as able to tap into the benefits that society has to offer. They therefore exist on the periphery. Never really belonging. And so, with no other options, they venture down a life of crime. Should we be punishing them for that?
It’s a challenge to that idea of zero-leniency. If somebody has grown up in the care system, not been able to fit into the educational system, had relationship difficulties, found solace in alcohol and drugs should they be punished for then trying in their own way (albeit illegally) to escape this hardship?
I believe so. Society should not blame itself. It exists for the greater good. There will always be variations in how it impacts on individual lives. We should not use this as an excuse for leniency.
I have much more sympathy with the victim rather than the perpetrator.
The problem is that society has become too empathetic with its law-breakers. Society has gone soft on crime. We are too forgiving, too lenient, too understanding. We are too eager to look for excuses and explanations rather than to deal with the criminal act itself.
This conciliatory, understanding, sympathetic attitude has meant that we have embarked on a process that takes us down a road which ultimately leads us either to nowhere or to a place that we certainly don’t want to be. Perhaps we have to stop and go back on ourselves until we can find a different route.
The notion that society knows best doesn’t completely hold up. Society may pride itself on its high moral code, that the values of society have a higher cumulative worth than those of the individual; that it can see the bigger picture whereas the individual can only see what is in his immediate vicinity. But if it’s not doing its job then changes have to be made.
If less than ten percent of crimes are solved and for those unfortunates who are caught the punishments are weak, minimal and avoidable then there is no deterrent. Suspended sentences, community orders, electronic tagging…..they are more of an inconvenience than they are a punishment.
There is an argument to say that the police and justice system are failing society. They are no longer ensuring the adequate protection and rights of the law-abiding majority. There will be reasons for that – financial, legal, political – but, in their failure, they risk taking us farther down that road of softness.
As a member of society, I know that I should let society deal with its problems. It acts as the law-maker and the law-enforcer. That’s part of the arrangement – society exists to create an environment that enables me to get on with living my own individual life. I accept that. But if it’s not doing its job then changes have to be made.
I and like-minded people may choose to take matters into our own hands. It’s not too massive a step for the local neighbourhood watch group to become the local neighbourhood protection group. If society is not seen to be fulfilling its designated role then this may increasingly happen.
As our tolerance levels decline, there will come a time when people will feel that they have to get more involved. People will challenge the system. People will rebel. There will be a rise in vigilante groups and self-appointed law-enforcers.
If society is not seen as the upholders of law and order, then others will take on the role. Why wouldn’t they? The law-abiding citizen needs to be given more recognition and priority. Society exists for their well-being and not for the support, rehabilitation and rapprochement of its law-breaking minority.