[LMB] Crime and Punishment

pouncer at aol.com pouncer at aol.com
Sat Dec 14 15:30:21 GMT 2019


Louann Miller refers to canon: 
  
>Cordelia ... offered some Barayarrans the option of 
>Betan personlaity treatment on Beta vs. (per
>Barrayaran law) the death penalty. All of them went 
>for the death penalty.
  
I absolutely accept this into my head-canon, and
it's absolutely consistent with Cordelia's character,
but I confess I don't recall the scene or situation 
in the books. 
Would a listie who has a better-working memory chip
than mine please help fill in the background? 
  
In real life I often consider the virtues of flogging.
Or time in wooden stocks outside the court-house, or
weekends devoted to picking up trash in parks or along
roadways. 
  
I think it unfair (my foolish rationale) and ineffective 
(my wiser one) that financial punishments are so common
for so many offenses against the good order of 
society.  The consequence is simply that wealthy
offenders suffer very little, while already-impoverished
offenders begin a cascade of tortures. Living
paycheck to paycheck, a person paying a parking ticket 
may choose NOT paying an installment on a credit
contract, leading to increased interest payments.
It might mean not buying groceries or not paying
a utility bill.  In the extreme not paying a 
court imposed fine means going to jail or prison. 
Even setting aside downstream consequences the same
absolute financial penalty represents disproportionate
pain (the point of any penalty) to richer or
poorer citizens.  A corporal or temporal penalty -
unlike financial ones - affects those who have
bodies, or exist in time much more equitably. They
are not perfect:-- young healthy offenders may 
recover from 5 lashes from a horsewhip much more
quickly than elderly ill ones and so be less 
deterred by any prospect of punishment. Similarly
a worker accustomed to intermittent hourly paid
income tasked off to some number of community
service hours is less inconvenieced by such
a sentence than, say, a trial lawyer who bills
hundreds of dollars per hour in six minute
increments. But nothing in law or life is
perfect, or fair. It is perhaps unfair to 
require taxpayers to hire foremen/supervisors
to instruct and manage and track hours for
trash pickers.  Flogging would be much quicker,
I think. And arguably a better deterrent. 
  
Time and pain have another advantage in that
they can not be transferred to societies'
guardians.  If a policeman's pay depends
on the fines and impounded property resulting
from his enforcement, most police officers and
their management will feel incentives to 
enforce the most "profitable" laws. The
funds collected from fines may also go to those who 
WRITE such laws and again there exist incentives
for writing more, and more "profitable", laws.
But very few feel a benefit to themselves 
in inflicting pain. Neither the cops nor
city council members would get more pay or
financial perqs of office based on how many
lashes on bare backs are inflicted on the
city's litterbugs, check-kiters, and those
who abuse handicap parking spaces. Line 'em
up on Saturdays in front of the court house.
Five to ten lashes apiece, as determined by
the municipal courts and juries. Fair and
square, over and done, then forgiven and
forgotten.  Move on. 
  
There WILL be psychological and behavioral
consequences of such policies.  For all 
I know Betan therapy takes flogging, or
like negative reinforcement, into their mix.
I suspect, however, Barrayar is more likely
than Beta Colony to include forms of corporal 
punishment.


  


More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list