NEW COLUMN IS “The New Norm: Crime, But Not Punishment.”
In the title of his magisterial book, Fyodor Dostoevsky paired “Crime and Punishment,” not crime and pardons, or crime and “Civics lessons,” amnesty and asylum.
Punishment must closely follow a crime in order to be both effective as a deterrent, as well as to serve as a public declaration of values and norms.
In explaining Texas justice and its attendant values, stand-up satirist Ron White performed the public service no politician is prepared to perform. “In Texas, we have the death penalty and we use it. If you come to Texas and kill somebody, we will kill you back.”
So, where’s such clarity when you need it?
Something has gotten into the country’s lymphatic system. The infection is becoming more apparent by the day, not least in the way matters of life-and-death are debated (or not).
Again-and-again one hears boilerplate statements that fail to properly fix on the defining issues of our time, much less fix them.
Consider the flippancy over threats against persons and property, from within the country and from without it.
The home of Fox News personality Tucker Carlson is surrounded by a small, if menacing, mob, and his family threatened. Before dinging the man’s front door, the assailants chant out their criminal intentions:
“Tucker Carlson, we will fight. We know where you sleep at night. We know where you sleep.”
To which other talkers, even the wonderful Tucker, respond by vaporizing about rights to speech and protest vs. some or other watered-down peace and security to which private property owners are entitled.
Nobody alludes to the rights of private property or to the fulcrum that is law-and-order.
No demands for arrests are issued or voiced, publicly. No expectation for retribution is set-up. Follow-up is nonexistent in media. Police do not publicize any arrests. If they make them, none are reported by media.
No teachable moments occur.
Remember words like, “Police are requesting the public’s assistance in finding those responsible”? Or, “No arrests have been made, as yet”? Such civilizing utterances have vanished from the nomenclature of media and law enforcement, when discussing acts of trespass, vandalism, and public disorderliness.
Be they within the U.S. or from without it, acts that violate one person’s property rights or the property rights of many—as the Central American caravanners expect to do—these acts don’t conjure the requisite tough talk or actions. …