Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Crime and Punishment

No, not another Dostoyevsky reprise.

France is once again blazing a trail in government interference, in spite of the election of supposed conservative Sarkozy. Thanks to a new law, French citizens can be jailed or fined for promoting "excessive thinness or extreme dieting." For now, let's ignore how a law worded like that is open to all sorts of abusive interpretation, and just focus on why it exists at all. This is yet another example of laws that protect us from ourselves...is that why government exists?

I'm not downplaying the seriousness of eating disorders, and there's no good reason to promote anorexia on your blog or offer tricks for vomiting meals without getting caught. But are tax dollars the most efficient way of solving this problem? It's not like eating disorders are such a raging epidemic that they threaten national security. People who are sick need professional help, the support of friends, and the love of family to get better. You can't legislate a cure for mental illness, but you can tie up police and judges with nonsense cases against modelling agencies and teenage bloggers.

And while anorexia and bulimia are dangerous, isn't it also dangerous to weigh 400 pounds? What if I create a "I Love Fat Chicks" website with tips on how to gorge on ice cream? What about a website promoting the sexiness of cigarette smoking? Should the thought police kick my door in and haul me off for encouraging any type of destructive behavior? Slippery slope, my friends.

In other crime news, the Supreme Court confirmed the legality of lethal injection, ruling against two Kentucky death row inmates concerned about the "risk of severe pain." I'm not sure what's crazier - worrying about a "risk of severe pain" for a convicted murderer who displayed no such touching concern for his victim(s), or the fact that we're willing to go all the way to the Supreme Court, wasting millions of dollars and months of time, to quantify the risk of pain for someone whom we're going to kill anyway.

Next up for the Supes: a Louisiana law that permits the death penalty for child rapists (read halfway down to get to that part). I'm all for killing violent criminals, but I did read one interesting argument against this law: it will encourage rapists to kill their child victims, since the punishment's the same either way. I'm not sure I buy it, because I don't think of child rapists as calculating, analytical and logical. Still, it's enough to give me pause.

1 Comments:

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous tommy said...

Just thought you should know that I would definately vote for you should you ever run for president.

 

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