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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Criminologists Who Make Excuses For Criminals

     The criminal justice system's failure to provide justice was inevitable, given the deterministic premises of its modern architects. Criminologists Wilson and Herrnstein explained, "The modern liberal position on criminal justice is rehabilitative, not retributive, because the offender is believed to have been driven to his crimes, rather than to have committed them freely and intentionally…."

     Some "reformers" have even made their antipathy toward traditional conceptions of justice explicit. Here, two of them express acute discomfort with the classical symbol, Justitia--the familiar courtroom figure, robed and blindfolded, holding her scales and sword: "Though excellently symbolizing impartial, even-handed, and effective justice generally, Justitia is ill-equipped to meet our current demands from penal sentences…From her left hand she should drop the scales and put in its place the case history, the symbol of the full psychological, sociological, and criminological investigation of the individual criminal. Her right hand will find very little use for a sword in the modern penal system….Around her knees she would be well advised to gather the adolescent social sciences….Finally, it is essential that she removed the anachronistic bandage from her eyes and look at the developments on society generally…."

     A new kind of justice--"social justice" or "distributive justice"--was to replace the "anachronistic," Justitian sort. Since men were helpless playthings of circumstances, and since circumstances impinged upon men unequally, it was the moral duty of government to intervene and redress the resulting "injustices." Government, according to Excuse-Makers such as John Rawls, was not to be society's impartial umpire, but rather its meddling therapist.

     This outlook, largely a legacy of Rousseau's view of human nature, spawned the redistributionist welfare state. "If you are bright, accomplished, famous, well-off, virtuous--you're just lucky, you had nothing to do with it. [Remember Obama's comment: "You didn't build your business, government did."] You didn't deserve any of your success. Likewise, if you are stupid, lazy, corrupt, poor, mediocre, even criminal--you can't help that either. Therefore, 'distributive justice' requires that the government level the playing field."

     It also led logically to "a culture of instinctive 'sympathy for the devil,' " as one historian put it, "a feeling that criminals in this society are as much victims as victimizers, as much sinned against as sinners--if not more so."

Robert James Bidinotto, "Subverting Justice," in Criminal Justice?, Robert James Bidinotto, ed., 1994

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