On crime and punishment


The government of Sweden is reviewing the scale of punishments for certain crimes, a review which they hope will quiet the civilian criticism, if not the criticism of the opposition. Let me add some thoughts to their deliberations.


From my point of view rape is a far more serious crime than murder. In a murder case there is no going back. The dead person will always be dead.  Yes, the period of mourning for the lost person can vary from a few months to most of a lifetime, but hopefully the bereaved will find a way to live without the presence of the deceased. 

In the case of rape, the perpetrator is still alive. Even if he is locked up, there is still the thought that he might be released sometime, and come around looking for round two, especially in today's society in which good-will is more often paid to the perpetrator than to the victim. So, no, get the rapist off the streets for as long as possible, so that the victim - and all other potential victims - can feel safe. Metaphorically, lock them up and throw away the key.

I have sometimes thought that castration might be appropriate. Not chemical castration, where the perpetrator receives injections intended to reduce the procreative lust, for suddenly he will not show up for an injection, and you're back to square one. No, surgical removal of a testicle for the first offence and of the other testicle for a second offence. Lock them up anyway, but let them feel when they scratch their ball that there is at least one good reason not to do that again, if they get the chance.

However, there is something objectionable to me in the idea of the surgical removal of an organ as punishment. It reminds me too much of that scene in "The Handmaid's Tale" where a man had his left hand surgically removed as punishment for a biblical crime - I think he coveted his neighbour's wife.

© James Wilde 2015