Punishment! What is it good for? Absolutely nothin’…

We do not use punishment on our children. To some people, they equate this with doing nothing. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The more I studied parenting, discipline, and child development the more I realized that it’s not just ineffective, it’s counterproductive.

I’m not going to regale you with my reasons. But suffice it to say, on this the day that Tookie Williams was put to death by the State of California, it really brings the issue to the bigger picture.

The idea that punishment acts as a deterrent to criminals is based on the oh-so-naive belief in two concepts that are central to many religions: 1) that acts can be categorized into “Good” versus “Bad”, and actually that people can be so categorized, and 2) that people truly have free will, and that their actions are based on rational thought, with full control over their chosen course of action. I don’t believe either of those things.

Here in Canada we are in the midst of a Federal Election campaign. The Conservatives have stated that their response to the recent rash of gun crimes and deadly car accidents involving stolen cars and radically dangerous driving, are to “stiffen the jail terms”. What utter ignorance.

Yeah, so there’s this poor junkie who is addicted to crystal meth and he needs a fix bad. Does anyone truly believe that his decision to go out and steal a car is based on a rational risk-benefit analysis wherein the benefits of stealing the car (getting money to get a fix) are weighed against the consequences of being caught (jail)? Uh, no. I don’t think so. The guy needs a fix and will do whatever he can to get it, irregardless of how much jail time he faces.

Tookie Williams was a cofounder of the notorious LA gang, the Crips. He also murdered a couple of people in a convenience store. That was 25 years ago. Since he was incarcerated after this crime, he has changed alot, as any one of us would over 25 years. He campaigned against gangs and gang violence, writing books, etc. Now I’m not saying that this guy was a saint, but last night at midnight this man, a healthy living person, was deliberately injected with a lethal concoction and killed. There is just something really wrong to me about taking the life of another person.

I mean, there is something truly hypocritical about killing someone as a punishment for killing. It’s analogous to spanking a child for hitting. What is really the message being sent here? That it’s okay to kill if you think you are in the right? Ain’t that a justification for virtually every crime against humanity in history!

What did killing him do, other than placate some victims’ sense of “justice”? When are we as a society going to own up to the fact that we are like little children: when we feel wronged we lash out. This “justice” is nothing more than revenge; it’s a senseless, meaningless act of violence against a perceived perpetrator that does nothing to change the crime or its effects. It simply returns one style of violence with another. Reducing all parties down to the level of the criminal act that prompted all of this.

Corporal punishment is just not right. It’s not effective, it’s certainly not without it’s fallibilities, and it appeals to the basest aspects of human nature. I’m truly disgusted by the whole affair, and disgusted with our society as a whole. The same mentality that goes into such a version of “justice” is the the one that allows children to be hit by their parents as a means of teaching them something about life. Yeah, that’s a good lesson. Maybe people should take another look at the Columbine massacres and ask themselves wherever these troubled teenagers got the idea that killing and violence are legitimate solutions to their woes?

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Punishment! What is it good for? Absolutely nothin’…

  1. Space Mom

    I hear you! We have few punishments in our household too. We only use a time out in the rare case that a child hits her sister (little one attacks big one)The whole death penalty thing drives me nuts…I think it is barbaric and disgusting. Who are we to take someone’s life?

  2. Anna B

    Amen from the choir!

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