Furthest Right

Sacred cow: culpability

Liberalism, the belief system that controls most of the world at this time, has one thing and one only that it holds sacred: the individual.

Liberalism is formed by individuals, wanting to guarantee the collective would not ostracize them, forming a collective to compel the rest of the collective to tolerate them.

One of the sacred cows produced by this non-logic is that of intent. To a liberal, there are two different outcomes if you drive a car over 30 kids while meaning to, or whether you drive the same car over the same 30 kids “by accident.”

This is because at the root of their nature, liberals are immature — they have not fully developed, and they see the world only as it would impact them or someone like them.

Because their ideology is rooted in fear, they always side with the person who is in the weakest position. If the weakest among us is safe, they reason, so we are — as individuals.

When they hear about a car running over 30 kids: if it’s an accident, they imagine themselves as the driver and want that person to escape punishment; if it was deliberate, they imagine themselves as the kids and want the driver punished.

In their view, the only safe intent is to want everyone to get along, because to each individual liberal, that says he or she will be accepted — guaranteed.

Naturally, this clashes with common sense, because 30 dead kids are dead no matter who intended what.

Take the 2000 case of a 40-year-old man we’ll call Alex, whose sexual preferences suddenly began to transform. He developed an interest in child pornography—and not just a little interest, but an overwhelming one. He poured his time into child-pornography Web sites and magazines. He also solicited prostitution at a massage parlor, something he said he had never previously done. He reported later that he’d wanted to stop, but “the pleasure principle overrode” his restraint.


At the same time, Alex was complaining of worsening headaches. The night before he was to report for prison sentencing, he couldn’t stand the pain anymore, and took himself to the emergency room. He underwent a brain scan, which revealed a massive tumor in his orbitofrontal cortex. Neurosurgeons removed the tumor. Alex’s sexual appetite returned to normal.


When your biology changes, so can your decision-making and your desires. The drives you take for granted (“I’m a heterosexual/homosexual,” “I’m attracted to children/adults,” “I’m aggressive/not aggressive,” and so on) depend on the intricate details of your neural machinery. Although acting on such drives is popularly thought to be a free choice, the most cursory examination of the evidence demonstrates the limits of that assumption.


As our understanding of the human brain improves, juries are increasingly challenged with these sorts of questions. When a criminal stands in front of the judge’s bench today, the legal system wants to know whether he is blameworthy. Was it his fault, or his biology’s fault? – The Atlantic

To the liberal mind, it’s unfair to convict anyone who is not culpable for their actions. This means people who are aware of the consequences of their actions, and able to see why those consequences might be bad. People who can control their impulses.

If you want to know why every mass murderer immediately pleads insane, it is because this is a hole in our legal system.

Ironically, this hole was caused by liberal policies. Originally, American justice aimed to eliminate threats to the community. Well-meaning liberals changed this in the 1960s. They wanted to “rehabilitate” criminals, and believed that unless that criminal truly intended to commit his crimes and would have done the same with a cop in the room, well, he was just “mistaken.”

A whole genre of literature came and went, in fiction and non-fiction, about how terrible you would feel if you grew up in poverty, with an alcoholic father who made you rape the sheep, and kids who made fun of you at school.

This culminated in self-parody:

At trial, White’s lawyer argued that he was suffering from “diminished capacity,” a controversial defense then permissible in California courts. White supposedly was suffering from depression and thus incapable of premeditated murder. As evidence of this, psychiatrist Martin Blinder testified that the formerly health-conscious White had recently become a junk food junkie. Blinder commented that too much sugar can affect the chemical balance in the brain and worsen depression, but didn’t blame the crime on bad diet. Rather, he offered junk food use as proof of White’s mental state–in other words, Twinkie consumption was an effect rather than the cause of White’s problems. But the media and public immediately–and misleadingly–dubbed the defense’s argument the “Twinkie defense.”

Whatever they called it, it worked. The jury found White guilty of a lesser charge, voluntary manslaughter. – Straight Dope

While bleating about how the media gets it wrong, the Straight Dope also gets it wrong: whether the twinkies or the pre-existing mental condition (twitch), the argument was that Dan White committed the murder because of mental health problems.

When we used to call people murderers — this became taboo in the 1990s with Sapir-Whorf and the idea that using categorical language about people made us treat them badly — it was not to attribute blame. It was to tag certain people with an implied BAD ANIMAL and remove them from society.

Until we got the moralistic notion, which is shared between populist (but not transcendental) Christianity and all forms of liberalism, that intent defined outcome and that we were “judged” only on our intent, legal process was a relatively simple affair designed to remove threats to the community.

In those days, judgment meant deciding where someone belonged, not whether or not they were good, nice or equal people. You might be equal and nice, but if you run over kids, you need to do that elsewhere. “Rights” meant entitlement to things like land, a place in a community, a journeyman’s position in your trade.

Over the centuries, the notion of moralism — deciding whether someone is good or bad based on whether they treat others as equals (which translates to “more important than the self,” because if there are many of Them and only one of You, there will be constant interruptions requiring that You cease activity so They can go ahead) — trumped any notion of practical justice.

In fact, we came to scorn it. Judging whether someone was a threat to society was how we treated dogs with rabies. Humans are more than dogs; we have control over ourselves even when we’re sick. Therefore, we are morally culpable by intent, or everything was a big accident and we should claim insanity.

Even when the cops find us flossing with the intestines of our victims while they heads boil in pots. In fact, career criminals know that the system will be more likely to not kill you if you manage to behave like a total nutcase. Kill 30 people and keep accurate records and you’re a cold-blooded killer; kill 30 people and make sculptures out of their corpses in homage to your dead abusive mother, and you’re a victim too!

There is an equally interesting perspective from Fairfax County, Virginia, chief of police M. Douglas Scott, a man responsible not only for protecting the public’s safety, but also for allocating the increasingly limited budgets which that public grants him.

“Over the course of my law enforcement career, I have seen very, very few examples where somebody could point out an offender to me and say, ‘That person’s clearly been rehabilitated; that even though they committed a serious felony, they’re back out there leading a productive life today.’

“The public in general sees the good in all people and thinks that most people are capable of being good. The public even wants to believe that evil people can be rehabilitated or brought back into society with some level of assistance. But I think our society would go broke trying to rehabilitate the number of evil individuals that are out there on our streets today.” – Obsession, by John Douglass and Mark Olshanker, p. 349

We like to think everyone is good, because we want to think we are good as individuals.

We project this view onto the world and hope that it’s true. Yet it isn’t.

Ever wonder why drugs are illegal? Wonder no more:

Twenty-seven percent of federal inmates and 61 percent of state inmates had a current or past sentence for a violent crime. Federal inmates (43 percent) were twice as likely as state inmates (19 percent) to have never been on probation or incarcerated before their current offense.


Among sentenced federal prisoners surveyed, 66 percent of the women and 57 percent of the men were serving time on drug charges. In comparison, 33 percent of the women and 21 percent of the men in state prisons had been convicted on drug charges. – US DOJ

We catch very few of the criminals who have committed crimes. In fact, many crimes go unsolved:

The percentage of homicides that go unsolved in the United States has risen alarmingly even as the homicide rate has fallen to levels last seen in the 1960s.

Despite dramatic improvements in DNA analysis and forensic science, police fail to make an arrest in more than one-third of all homicides. National clearance rates for murder and manslaughter have fallen from about 90 percent in the 1960s to below 65 percent in recent years. – Times Record News

The reason we keep drugs illegal is that it’s an easy way to catch repeat offenders — that is, easier than having them murder, rape or commit armed robbery, which is what they are statistically most likely to do.

Further, we find that 53% of arrested males and 39% of arrested females are re-incarcerated [citation needed], and that is within a relatively time period after their arrests. If many if not most crimes go unreported, unprosecuted, unconvicted and unsolved, what does this mean about recidivism rates? They’re higher than we think.

But as individuals, we each like to believe that if we committed those crimes, it would be by accident, or even better, someone or something else would be to blame. We would not be aggressors, but victims. And if that were the case, it sure would be convenient if we could be rehabilitated.

However, we didn’t commit those crimes. Whether from good moral nature, fear of law enforcement, innate cowardice or some mixture of the three, we did not commit those crimes or at least most of us did not. Someone else did. Someone who is likely to re-offend.

Our notion of culpability just gets in the way of the oldest principle of law enforcement, which is consequentialism. Did 30 kids get run over? Did a murder occur? Will it happen again?

While our public is stoned to the eyeballs on the notion of rehabilitation and innocence by lack of intent, the bodies pile up and, thanks to our social welfare system, the murderers are let out and given aid subsidies to help them procreate, ensuring that we’ll have future generations of unhinged and/or stupid people.

For over a year, Mr. Chappell, a schizophrenic with a violent criminal record, had seemed relatively stable in a state-financed group home in Charlestown. But after a fight with another resident, Mr. Chappell was shuttled from home to home, and his mother believed that he had fallen off his medication along the way.

Ms. Chappell said she had tried to communicate this concern to his caretakers, but it was not until mid-January that she found somebody who listened.

The woman introduced herself as Stephanie and said she would be Mr. Chappell’s counselor at his new group home in Revere. She confirmed that Mr. Chappell had stopped getting his antipsychotic injections but made his mother a promise: “She said: ‘Don’t worry. I’m going to get Deshawn back on track.’

“I thought everything was going to be O.K. because he had somebody who cared,” Ms. Chappell said, her voice breaking.

Two days after that conversation, Stephanie Moulton, a petite, street-smart 25-year-old, was dead, and Mr. Chappell was accused of murdering her. They had been alone at the Revere home, where, her family said, Ms. Moulton generally worked a solo shift. Mr. Chappell beat her, stabbed her repeatedly and then dumped her partially nude body in a church parking lot, prosecutors said. – NYT

In the liberal mindset, it’s only fair to convict people if they’re culpable, and they’re only culpable if they intended to do what they did. This translates into most criminals being victims, because no one who has a functional brain decides on violent pointless crime when jobs are easy enough to come by.

Our liberal friends thus pretend that it’s wrong to base a justice system on culpability, since these people have no idea what they were doing; it was just their brain chemistry. While a longer-term solution probably lies on looking for medical reasons for insanity, if we measure by consequences the bottom line remains the same: people who have committed crimes, unless we can medically fix them, will do it again.

Stephanie Moulton was just acting out what her society told her. These people were not broken or bad animals, they were victims. We just need to set aside our fear, treat them like humans — for once! the first kindness since whatever abuse made them do what they do! — and they’ll turn out okay.

Except it turns out in the end, this one like (statistically) most of the others, was a bad animal. And while we’ll now pay to lock him up for life, we can’t bring Stephanie back, or any of the others who have been sacrificed to our oblivious liberal notion that intent defines culpability.

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