The Corner

RE: Bring Back the Lash

Jonah and Andy: I’m not entirely sure about flogging, but I have long seriously advocated the return of stocks, especially for crimes of a nature that inherently degrade public life — vandalism, graffiti, automotive burglary, various kinds of public mayhem. I have in mind the kinds of crimes that undercut shared community life and encourage the further atomization of our society. I think 24 hours in the stocks for defacing a public space with graffiti would be appropriate, especially if the stocks were set up at the scene of the crime. 

The list of things I think should be criminal is very short, and I tend to favor restitution-oriented justice over our current mass-incarceration model. But I also think that government should mostly do its business in public, including its punitive business. Public crimes ask for public punishments. 

As for the flogging, I remember thinking in the case of young Michael Fay — you may remember: the snot-nosed American punk kid who got himself caned in Singapore back in 1994 — that the punishment was probably appropriate to the crime, perhaps even a little on the lenient side. I could endorse the stocks in such a case, along with full restitution. 

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