So as to better illustrate my position, I’ll be making reference to an incident which occurred over four years ago. But whether it occurred yesterday or before Christ, it remains a perfectly suitable example of how, when it comes to criminal justice, most people tend to let their worst emotions rule.

The incident to which I refer is when, not too long ago, an American named Michael Fay was sentenced in Singapore to receive six lashes (reduced to four thanks to pressure from the U.S.) to his rear end. The skin of the offending buttocks is split open on the first lick, and it only gets worse after that. The medical community compared this to the equivalent of torture. Yet to my astonishment people across our entire country, even people I knew personally, applauded this punishment as just and proper. And so naturally I was curious as to what Limbaugh had to say about it, mostly because of his tremendous weight . . . with the American people.

And oddly enough, somehow I actually thought he might condemn the lashing. Go figure. Not that I was surprised when he didn’t condemn it (I’d come to the point where only the most vile of idiocy to spew from his large head could surprise me), but I was disappointed. He sat there and not only didn’t condemn it, but suggested we should be learning from Singapore’s punishment system. ‘‘There’s a lesson to be learned from the way Singapore is running its affairs. We ought to learn it and learn it fast.’’

I was under the impression that the fundamental premise on which America was founded was freedom. And that this included the freedom of all citizens, even those who have broken the law, not to be subjected to cruel or unusual punishment.

No doubt if we ran our affairs like Singapore there’d be less crime. For instance, if, like the Singapore government, we had no due process and the courts didn’t care whether there was any reasonable doubt about the guilt of the accused, and if drug dealers were all executed, and if the government came up with a lot of arbitrary laws like banning chewing gum and fining people for not flushing public toilets, and if surveillance cameras were put in all public places, then surely the crime rate here in the States would drop dramatically. But at what a terrible cost.

A high crime rate is a small price to pay for the incredible freedom we’re allotted in this country, and I wouldn’t give up that freedom for all the sterile security in Singapore.


Limbaugh is quite fond of calling into question other people’s true intentions on any number of issues. Animal rights activists are only out to devalue human life; environmentalists are only out to punish the American way of life; abortion rights activists want to see as many abortions occur as possible in order to have power over men; homeless advocates actually want people to remain homeless so they can keep a stranglehold on their lucrative Poverty Industry. And of course the elitist liberals want to do all the above. Even when he’s willing to admit these people’s actions may be inspired by compassion, Limbaugh still manages to attribute some deranged motivation to their compassion. ‘‘These people Care. . . .’’ Rush tells us. ‘‘They care so much that caring becomes a crutch that makes them feel special and more noble than the rest of us.’’ Ironically nobody seems to Care about victims of crime more than conservatives like Rush. They care so incredibly much they want the victimizers tortured for their crimes. Now that’s true compassion! Uh-huh.

Clearly the intent of these punishments is to instill respect through fear. But fear isn’t respect. Fear doesn’t earn one’s respect. Respect is understanding, admiration, love. Fear is fear. It is an intensely foul feeling that goes against one’s grain, disturbs and disrupts the soul, one’s mental well being.

Most people coming out of prison are already filled with a fair amount of resentment. Can you imagine how they’d feel if the prisons were made even more horrible, into torture camps (to deter them no less!)? Unless they actually brainwash criminals like they did in A Clockwork Orange or in 1984, or the torture leaves them broken spirited (in which most cases I’d assume after parole they’d end up homeless or in mental institutions for the rest of their crime-free lives), this approach to criminal ‘‘deterrence’’ is seriously bent. Rather than turning them into law-abiding Samaritans, it’d probably have the opposite effect in that many convicts would cross a mental breaking point where they’d simply stop caring for their own lives, they’d feel desperate and suicidal. No one is more dangerous to a free society than a criminal with no sense of value for their own life, nothing to lose.

Limbaugh has his own provocative thoughts on criminal justice: ‘‘There’s a simple way to solve the crime problem: obey the law; punish those who do not.’’ Food for thought indeed. He believes prisons have forgotten the value of punishment (what with these pansy liberals being lenient on everyone for their crimes), and, in addition to condoning Singapore’s torture methods, has said that if prisons were all hard labor camps out in the middle of the burning hot desert, then surely convicts would never again break the law.

But how can the system expect to take someone whose mindset is already halfway to hell——metaphorically speaking——and take them all the way down that pit and expect it to correct them, expect one act of evil to cancel out another? Two wrongs do not a right make. You cannot torture a tortured soul and expect it to cure them. The only way to truly deter anyone from anything is by showing them a better way.

Good parenting is a deterrent. A good education is a deterrent. The law and law enforcement, security alarms, steel bars across your windows, and a moat are all perfectly good deterrents. Simply catching a criminal and isolating them from our society is a deterrent. But a criminal’s body does not react on its own, all their actions flow from their mind. So whereas they can commit physical crimes and can be physically deterred from this (incarceration, torture, death), it is their criminal minds that must be amended.

That doesn’t mean giving them electric shock or lobotomies, either. There’s no specific criminal brain matter you can scoop out. Nor is a criminal filled with demons you can exorcise by thrashing them like a carpet full of dust. You cannot correct a criminal by treating their physical self, for it is their, and our and everyone’s mental, intangible self that runs the show.


Prisons clearly shouldn’t be places of torture (at least in my ‘‘left-wing radical’’ opinion) . . . but neither should the prisoners be spoiled. And though even under the best of circumstances incarceration is surely no amusement park, numerous prisons are loaded up with all sorts of creature comforts, luxuries, and recreational activities, ordered by state courts under the banner of ‘‘rehabilitation.’’

Let’s be clear about what rehabilitation constitutes. It is not a once-a-week therapy session that’s automatically gonna cure convicts of their criminal instincts, nor is it a lot of side programs existing separately from the formal prison environment. It’s everything they do in prison, from the moment they awake to when they go back to bed, and it needs to be intense. What else are they there for? To whittle the days of their sentence away lifting weights and learning how to become better criminals?

And do understand, when I say rehabilitation needs to be intense, I’m not talking about making the inmates miserable. They can easily be made to suffer, but this isn’t going to bring about any epiphany that: the place they’re in makes them miserable, they’re in this place because of their crime, and therefore they’ll never repeat such acts. Yeah——think again. Yet this must be the faulty logic made by those people who think prison should be a torturous place. If inmates are made miserable in such a way, the most they’ll feel for their crime is sorry that they were caught doing it, not sorry that they actually did it.

The prison environment shouldn’t be purposely cruel, but neither should it allow inmates such diversions that they may forget why they are even in prison. Inmates should never be allowed to forget why they’re inside, especially when they first enter——not necessarily because they broke the law, disturbed and disrupted the peace, or violated someone else’s rights, but because of their specific crimes.

Coming to grips with their exact criminal activity, all of its ramifications and consequences, is the starting place from which a criminal may begin to see their behavior in a more harsh and revealing light. Of some importance to this process is getting the criminal’s victims and all people affected by what they did involved with their rehabilitation (at their own disclosure, of course).

Twisted as this sounds, it might be pretty eye-opening for criminals and their victims to, in a controlled, safe environment, meet each other face to face. Talk to one another on a human level. Let the criminal see the face of the person or people they’ve hurt, look into their eyes. For the criminal it’s often a faceless ‘‘victim,’’ not a real person. The anonymity of their victims coupled with an ignorance of the real-life consequences of their actions makes it that much easier for criminals not to take their offenses seriously or understand why what they did was reprehensible and regrettable. (See Appendix VI for a random thought on rehabilitation.)


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