Friday, 15 January 2016

Anti-Punishment in a Pro-Punish World long-tail from childrearing in a punishment-happy world is adults who believe that whenever they make a mistake, damage anything or get anything wrong, they must be punished: made to feel bad about what they’ve done.


Yes, that’s what I said: again.

You see, the natural result of doing something wrong, making a mistake, hurting others, doing damage or creating unnecessary costs is to feel bad. Even really little kids get upset when the item breaks, or the baby cries, the dog runs away. I am convinced that this is not something that needs to be ‘taught.’ The natural result of making mistakes or doing damage is self-recrimination, shame, guilt and a loss of self-esteem, and to know that one is capable of harming others (and stuff.) it is an article of faith among the pro-punishment that in order for people to ‘learn’ they must have some kind of personal harm applied: public censure, fines, thrashings, withdrawal of affection, restriction of privileges, dragging it up in every tangentially-related discussion to keep scraping the scab off to keep the wound perpetually at the top of the victim’s mind.

Perpetrator’s mind.

Hang on… this is one of the things I find to be problematic about the application of additional punishment: the scale.

Punishment can very rapidly go from ‘harming the perpetrator just enough to match the offense’ to ‘harming the perpetrator so much more than makes sense that the perpetrator is now the victim.’ It is a delicate balance that requires understanding of just how bad the perpetrator already feels, so the additional harm inflicted doesn’t tip the overall experience of the perpetrator into the victim category.

But, wait… if the perpetrator already feels bad, what is the purpose of additional punishment?

I honestly have absolutely no idea.

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