Re: Justice-Singapore style

douglass st.christian (stchri@MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA)
Sun, 17 Apr 1994 18:01:49 -0400

Without getting into the relativist question of different justices, what
has struck me most about the Michael Fay case has been the efforts to
portray him as a victim. This seems to this Canadian observer to have
become the mode of defence in American courts.

Absolve me, I am a victim [ a la the Menendez Bros or Reginald Denny's [sp]
attackers] seems to be a defence being trotted out more and more often,
especially in high profile criminal cases.

I wonder, as one who holds that criminal justice should be about
compensation and punishment, if this resort to the vicimt defense [ in
Fay's case it has been a] that he did not know the rules [what planet is
this kid from] or, failing that, b] he suffers from Attention Deficit
Disorder [ I have yet to read or hear any explanation of how this effects
his judgment or ability to make rational choices about punishable
behaviour but would be most interested in hearing if anyone out there
knows what ADD has to do with this kids plight].

I supppose it comes, for me, to the question of making choices. If we
choose to participate in a society, we then also choose to live by its
rules and accept its consequences. If, on the other hand, we choose to
work to change a society because of political or moral repulsion or
concern, we also take risk but on a higher plane. Michael Fay, so far as
I can tell was not engaged in political activism against the admittedly
repressive Singaporean system, so his punishment should not be absolved
for political reasons. He did, as a visitor, have an obligation to know
and abide by the rules and consequences in effect in Singapore.

Resort to 'save me, I'M the real victim here' is so much self serving
drivel so far as I can tell.

As for the poll cats wanting caning on the streets of dayton ohio, well
that is another whole kettle of fish. As Canada slips into the all too
familiar American pattern of increasingly brutal street crime, I wonder
how long before the usually calm and reserved are making the same call
for a return to 'real' punishment [ Ontario technically did not outlaw
the 'strap' in prisons until the mid 80's although so far as i can tell,
it was not used in several decades].

And lest anyone take this as a swipe at Americans, hold your fire.
The only thing I have against Americans is that their national leader
insists on showing up on my TV screen showing off his pasty white thighs
[copyright David Letterman] whenver he jogs around the white house....



douglass st.christian
anthropology - mcmaster u.
hamilton - canada
905 529 4992