It’s a Friday so we usually do an interview show or a thought of the walk. What is a thought of the walk — simply a short episode where we dive into a single concept. How do I pick the topic? I go for walks with my dogs and shut off all media. While out and about, something that has been niggling on my brain often comes clear, then I share it with you.

This week, I have been thinking about punitive and restorative justice and will share my thoughts on that with you later in the show.

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Justice – the idea that we can make right the wrongs that inevitably happen in this world. Drove you car into someone’s house because you fell asleep at the wheel — well you ought to pay to fix it. Stole a chocolate egg from the store? How do you make that right? Pay for it?

Justice get’s harder as transgressions get bigger. Kidnapped and killed someone — how do you ever make that right with the family? Can you be trusted to walk freely among society? If not, is the rest of your life in prison the answer, or something else. What is a proper response to kidnapping and killing someone?

It turns out that justice, while a very simple concept, becomes much more complex as we dive more deeply into it. People push for justice from people who new the person who transgressed. People want their pound of flesh because they were hurt. People want their pound of flesh on behalf of someone they perceive to have been harmed who is not themselves demanding one. People want things righted from generations past. 

The problem? People got involved.

Yet that which is complicated is usually made so because we tend to take a simple concept, in this case justice, and make it complicated in order to manipulate things into going our way even when the simple interpretation does not go as far as we would wish. By over rotating on the concept, we can manipulate others into giving us what we want.

But is that truly justice?

One way to think about justice and how it is wielded is to break it down into two categories: punitive and restorative. 

Simply put, punitive justice sets up the framework for retribution against the transgressor. Think eye for an eye. At the end of a punitive approach, the person who transgressed will be hurt so that they are also hermed as were the person or people they harmed. 

The death penalty for murderers is an example of punitive justice. The person killed someone or many someones and therefore they themselves must also die. The families and friends of those killed, while they may get a bit of a morale boost, receive nothing to restore the damage caused to their lives.

Restorative justice on the other hand takes a different approach. It seeks to restore relationships and repair the damage caused by the transgression. This is most easily accomplished in crimes that are nonviolent but it is also possible in a murder case to come together and find a clear path toward reparations. In a murder case, it may mean that the transgressor agrees to send half their income to the family of the person they killed. This of course assumes the person does not kill again and there is no “Template” for what the right answer is to restore that kind of damage since you can never bring a person back — at least not with our current technology.

Note: I do realize that there is also a concept around rehabilitative justice, but am concentrating on the two concepts for the purposes of today’s show.

Part of why the action taken against Parler is so disturbing this week is the punitive nature of the action taken being far out of scale for the transgression: They allowed people to freely exchange ideas. They are having their lives destroyed for someone else’s action because they did not intervene to stop it before there was even any proof that the hot air posturing was going to be acted upon.

Because they did not take punitive action against people who had not really done anything wrong, they must be annihilated.

It is quite dangerous to encourage this sort of action. Yet we have set up in our society the approach that it is ok to take 5 pounds of flesh in exchange for the slightest perception of a transgression. Think expelling a child for eating his poptart into a gun shape. Publishing names addresses and calling for violence against the children of politicians we don’t agree with. Getting people fired from their jobs because we do not agree with their opinions.None of these actions address a core problem with an eye toward making amends or even persuading the person to change from their heart. Rather, it extends a stick or threat over their head and over the heads of all others so that they do not step out of line. A stick will work to change behavior — but only for a time.Point: We are all tempted to demand punitive justice, but a restorative approach is better and those that demand their pound of flesh are making the division in our society far worse.

Make it a great week!

GUYS! Don’t forget about the cookbook, Cook With What You Have by Nicole Sauce and Mama Sauce. It makes a great Christmas Gift!


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