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In Defense of Flogging

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Dorian
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In Defense of Flogging

Post by Dorian » January 15th, 2019, 2:23 pm

Peter Moskos, a sociology professor at CUNY, wrote a book on incarceration in America titled In Defense of Flogging.

Readers are asked the following question: Imagine that you have been convicted of a crime and presented with the choice between serving a 10 years sentence in prison or being tied to a pole and given ten brutal lashes for your crime, which would you choose?

In the author's estimation, virtually everyone would choose the lashes over the prison sentence. I know that I would choose the lashes, and the small sample of acquaintances (n= 10 or so) felt the same way. This leads to two questions about our system of criminal justice:

1) Flogging is generally considered a brutal and inhumane form of punishment, but if people would prefer flogging to prison what does that tell us about how awful the prison system is?

2) Since, if given the option, people would choose to be flogged as an alternative to incarceration, then does it appear one can make a solid moral argument that flogging should be allowed as a form of punishment?

What do you all think?

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LuckyR
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Re: In Defense of Flogging

Post by LuckyR » January 16th, 2019, 2:14 am

Dorian wrote:
January 15th, 2019, 2:23 pm
Peter Moskos, a sociology professor at CUNY, wrote a book on incarceration in America titled In Defense of Flogging.

Readers are asked the following question: Imagine that you have been convicted of a crime and presented with the choice between serving a 10 years sentence in prison or being tied to a pole and given ten brutal lashes for your crime, which would you choose?

In the author's estimation, virtually everyone would choose the lashes over the prison sentence. I know that I would choose the lashes, and the small sample of acquaintances (n= 10 or so) felt the same way. This leads to two questions about our system of criminal justice:

1) Flogging is generally considered a brutal and inhumane form of punishment, but if people would prefer flogging to prison what does that tell us about how awful the prison system is?

2) Since, if given the option, people would choose to be flogged as an alternative to incarceration, then does it appear one can make a solid moral argument that flogging should be allowed as a form of punishment?

What do you all think?
The logic flaws in your post are accentuated if you substitute "wedgey" for "flogging". Of course convicts would prefet it: because it isn't much of a punishment and does less than zero to protect the community.
"As usual... it depends."

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Arjen
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Re: In Defense of Flogging

Post by Arjen » January 16th, 2019, 5:21 am

Dorian wrote:
January 15th, 2019, 2:23 pm
1) Flogging is generally considered a brutal and inhumane form of punishment, but if people would prefer flogging to prison what does that tell us about how awful the prison system is?

2) Since, if given the option, people would choose to be flogged as an alternative to incarceration, then does it appear one can make a solid moral argument that flogging should be allowed as a form of punishment?

What do you all think?
Incredibly interesting thought.
There is also the function of deterrence of seeing a person being flogged.

One argument against this reasoning:
If a person would be imprisoned for 10 years, a very serious crime has been committed.
A flogging seems a very mild punishment for something like rape, or even murder in the second degree.

So, the question should be:
A flogging or a few months in prison, because corporeal punishment for a crime that serious is likely death.

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Re: In Defense of Flogging

Post by Steve3007 » January 16th, 2019, 6:53 am

It is interesting that in our societies, only in very recent times, the infliction of physical pain as a form of punishment and deterrence has fallen out of favour and come to be regarded as immoral, but the infliction of psychological pain, in the form of imprisonment, as punishment and deterrence, is still deemed acceptable. I don't think it's just because it fails to achieve those goals, as LuckyR seems to be suggesting. If the goal is deterrence from future crime then, who knows, perhaps flogging might work better than prison? But I still suspect that we, as a society, would consider it barbaric and unacceptable.

Where I live, in schools flogging (of a sort) was considered an acceptable punishment and deterrent until as recently as my own early childhood. These kinds of punishments are of course still used in many parts of the world.

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Re: In Defense of Flogging

Post by Karpel Tunnel » January 16th, 2019, 8:10 am

LuckyR wrote:
January 16th, 2019, 2:14 am
The logic flaws in your post are accentuated if you substitute "wedgey" for "flogging". Of course convicts would prefet it: because it isn't much of a punishment and does less than zero to protect the community.
[/quote]If it isn't much of a punishment then the justification for its banning as inhumane is flawed, which I think the OP made clear. One could say it is not a good punishment because it doesn't punish well, but that's not why we don't do it.

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Re: In Defense of Flogging

Post by Karpel Tunnel » January 16th, 2019, 8:13 am

Steve3007 wrote:
January 16th, 2019, 6:53 am
It is interesting that in our societies, only in very recent times, the infliction of physical pain as a form of punishment and deterrence has fallen out of favour and come to be regarded as immoral, but the infliction of psychological pain, in the form of imprisonment, as punishment and deterrence, is still deemed acceptable. I don't think it's just because it fails to achieve those goals, as LuckyR seems to be suggesting. If the goal is deterrence from future crime then, who knows, perhaps flogging might work better than prison? But I still suspect that we, as a society, would consider it barbaric and unacceptable.

Where I live, in schools flogging (of a sort) was considered an acceptable punishment and deterrent until as recently as my own early childhood. These kinds of punishments are of course still used in many parts of the world.
Related to this was the discovery or rediscovery of all the soft physical tortures, like forced knee bends, lack of sleep, etc. STuff that tends not to leave scars and there are few moments where a photo would make it look like violence, but they cause both physical and emotional pain at very high levels.

I suppose one argument could be that flogging and torture create a rebounding damage on the torturers and institutions and the public at large. We would feel dirty and evil.

I don't know if that holds.

I, at least, feel dirty about the prison system. Not that I have some perfect solution.

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Re: In Defense of Flogging

Post by Dorian » January 16th, 2019, 1:59 pm

LuckyR wrote:
January 16th, 2019, 2:14 am
The logic flaws in your post are accentuated if you substitute "wedgey" for "flogging". Of course convicts would prefet it: because it isn't much of a punishment and does less than zero to protect the community.

I don't think it is reasonable to make an equivalence between wedgies and flogging. While I would never encourage anyone to watch a flogging video or look at pictures of it's aftermath on the human body, it is hard to understate the damage it does. I have trouble imagining how lacerating the skin down to the muscle and sometimes to the bone would not be considered much of a punishment.

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Re: In Defense of Flogging

Post by Alias » January 17th, 2019, 12:01 am

What is it you're defending it from?
Of course flogging is primitive and inhumane! So is prison.
The preference of convicts for one punishment over another is not a recommendation for either punishment. It's a recommendation for punishment that's cheap, easy and quick.
It doesn't begin to address the questions of whether either form of punishment punishment is effective, whether punishment is the best way to stop crime, what other approaches a criminal justice system might try or why the general public is perceived to desire vengeance on its members who have fallen afoul of the law, or whether it actually does.

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Re: In Defense of Flogging

Post by Scott » January 17th, 2019, 10:27 am

The argument in the original post seems to rely on some unstated premises, which may be false. These include:

1. The assumption that the primary focus of the criminal judicial system is and should be punishment, versus infinite other things such as but not limited to rehabilitation or protecting the innocent or deterrence.

2. The assumption that what a criminal prefers should be a priority factor in deciding the sentence and/or in designing the criminal judicial system.

Regarding #1 above, I have several forum topics in which that apparent assumption of the original post is disputed:

Regarding the main topic at hand, we can't measure the value and effectiveness of flogging versus incarceration versus other options until we first agree on what the goal is. We can't argue what the best means to an end is if we have not agreed upon the end.

If one's end goal is just to sadistically cause suffering and pain to someone as an end in itself, then sure flogging or otherwise brutally assaulting someone might be the quickest and most cost effective way to sadistically cause suffering versus keeping the victim caged for long periods of time. That kind of seems obvious and agreeable. It seems the debatable and disagreeable issues are hidden in unspoken and quite likely false premises.
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Re: In Defense of Flogging

Post by Eduk » January 17th, 2019, 1:56 pm

I think proportional, timely, local violence can be effective.
For example chopping off a thieves hands wouldn't be proportional.
Premeditated physical punishment isn't timely.
Random strangers hired to hurt other strangers isn't local.
I would also consider how much responsibility I would like to wield or I would like wielded by others.
I would also consider accuracy and the greater demands of accuracy the greater the punishment.
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Re: In Defense of Flogging

Post by Eduk » January 17th, 2019, 1:59 pm

Oh I forgot to say I would gauge effectiveness. Although I already imply that.
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Re: In Defense of Flogging

Post by LuckyR » January 18th, 2019, 3:29 am

Dorian wrote:
January 16th, 2019, 1:59 pm
LuckyR wrote:
January 16th, 2019, 2:14 am
The logic flaws in your post are accentuated if you substitute "wedgey" for "flogging". Of course convicts would prefet it: because it isn't much of a punishment and does less than zero to protect the community.

I don't think it is reasonable to make an equivalence between wedgies and flogging. While I would never encourage anyone to watch a flogging video or look at pictures of it's aftermath on the human body, it is hard to understate the damage it does. I have trouble imagining how lacerating the skin down to the muscle and sometimes to the bone would not be considered much of a punishment.
I was not stating my opinion on the matter, I was continuing the train of logic of the OP's proposal, since if "virtually everyone" prefers flogging, it is the de facto relatively lenient punishment. A trait it shares with wedgies, hence my analogy.

But punishment is only one axis of measurement. In the community protection axis it also fails.

As to the actual legal history of it's fall from favor I do not disagree that the ideas in my post were not high on the list of concerns in antiquity.
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Re: In Defense of Flogging

Post by Alias » January 18th, 2019, 1:22 pm

LuckyR wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 3:29 am
...the OP's proposal, since if "virtually everyone" prefers flogging, it is the de facto relatively lenient punishment.
For the record, how many of the prisoners who opted for flogging had actually been flogged before?

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Re: In Defense of Flogging

Post by LuckyR » January 18th, 2019, 6:12 pm

Alias wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 1:22 pm
LuckyR wrote:
January 18th, 2019, 3:29 am
...the OP's proposal, since if "virtually everyone" prefers flogging, it is the de facto relatively lenient punishment.
For the record, how many of the prisoners who opted for flogging had actually been flogged before?
Good question. Dorian's source was Peter Moskos, a sociology professor at CUNY, who wrote a book on incarceration in America titled In Defense of Flogging. Sounds pretty authoritative on the face of it, but I truly don't actually know the answer to your question.
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Re: In Defense of Flogging

Post by Judaka » January 18th, 2019, 9:19 pm

I think there's an aspect of morality which not only judges an action by its negative aspects but also what good is being denied or gained through the action. Flogging perhaps isn't more immoral than prison because people think its a worse fate but rather because there's a hypothetical chance that prison rehabilitates people, it also prevents criminals from hurting more people while flogging seems a pointless act of violence in comparison. This concept may be the basis for things like redemption and forgiveness because why give second chances to people if not because you believe it might deny something good or that something good might be gained from forgiveness?

There are many things I'd change about prison but replacing it with an act of violence just seems cold and malicious, precisely because there's no uplifting answer to the question, why are we doing this?

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