Website owner:  James Miller

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Connection between harshness in punishment of crime and social morality

   The Moslem countries are very hard on crime, punishing things 
   like stealing and adultery with punishments like cutting off 
   fingers or hands or execution.  In our society punishments are 
   light, with no punishment at all for adultery and immorality.  
   Isn't the way a society punishes crime (the severity with which 
   it punishes it) a direct indicator of that country's basic 

   What type of punishment should there be for stealing?  Or 
   murder?  Or adultery?  When we answer these questions don't we 
   try to pick a punishment to suit the crime?  Don't we try to 
   pick a fair and equitable punishment that we feel is fitted to 
   the crime?  And is not the punishment we pick simply a 
   reflection of the gravity with which we view the crime?  Will 
   not the answer to this question vary with the individual 
   answering it according to his moral feelings and outlooks?  If 
   we prescribe a light punishment or no punishment for a crime 
   what does it mean?  Doesn't it say something about the 
   seriousness with which we regard the crime?  Our answer is a 
   value judgment that depends on our values.  If we prescribe no 
   punishment for immorality what does that say about our attitude 
   about immorality?  What does that say about our own morality?  
   What is the measure of a person's morality?  Isn't it the 
   seriousness with which he regards immorality?  If he regards 
   adultery as a trivial thing, is he not immoral?  Isn't the 
   gravity with which he regards immorality the very best, most 
   accurate, indicator of his own moral character?  If a society 
   as a whole views crime and immorality lightly is that not the 
   most accurate indicator of its own moral character?  To take 
   immorality lightly, to condone it, to punish it little or not 
   at all, is a distinguishing mark of the immoral, corrupt, 
   degenerate society. 

   Oct 1981

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