“Once we equate making people feel bad with actually attacking them, free expression is basically obsolete, since anything a person does, makes or says could be interpreted as abuse.” – Lenore Skenazy (Wall Street Journal 2/12/14)
We live in a community that every single day is becoming more and more sensitive and watered down. Everything is becoming offensive and any action can be spun into criminal intent.
I read an article today in the Wall Street Journal titled “The Prisoners I Lose Sleep Over” that was written by senior U.S. District Judge from Massachusetts, Michael A Ponser. The article begins with Mr. Ponser explaining how he often loses sleep over people he has sent to prison and he poses the question: How did “the land of the free and the home of the brave” become the world’s largest prison ward? The U.S. now houses 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prisoners. Either our fellow Americans are far more dangerous than the citizens of any other country, or something is seriously out of whack in the criminal justice system. Those are words written by a man who sat on a federal bench for over 30 years.
He goes on to speak about the fact that our laws and sentencing guidelines have become so rigid that there is no longer room for interpretation. How laws designed for the worst criminals effect all, taking the actual judgment out of the judge’s hands. And although in theory this seems a good idea, in practice it has proved exactly the opposite. Resulting in massive prison terms for those who plainly do not deserve them.
With the ability to send a person to lengthy prison terms for minor offenses, district attorneys have been given far more power than was ever intended. D.A.s throw around years like pennies and use this to bully defendants into taking plea bargains regardless of guilt. And everyday people become more and more sensitive, creating an environment where to speak your mind becomes a risk. Where we must always be politically correct and must not be in anyway offensive.
Cultural critic Jonathan Rauch coined the term “offendedness sweep states” to describe our present condition: we’ve gotten to the point where almost any group can declare almost anything unnerving or politically incorrect and demand its removal. These censors automatically win because anyone who demurs is criminally callous. – Wall Street Journal
We have created a society where anyone can feel threatened for any reason, and can then in turn use this as a type of attack. If I don’t like something or someone, I can say that they threatened me, then retaliate with complete justification.
Not only can someone attack in this fashion, they can also plead the victim while doing so. Reality no longer matters, only interpretation.
We write laws for everything. It seems as though to hurt a person’s feelings, soon will be a crime. And as prosecutors rise they need convictions, whatever the cost. For the politicians to get elected they have to be tough on crime… tougher than whoever held office before. It is an abyss of escalation. A black whole of injustice…. And all in the name of justice.
This is why when I read the words of US District Judge Michael A Ponsor I felt some sense of relief. To have a federal judge agree that our nations justice system is out of control is very important to me. I’ve spent countless nights wondering this exact thing. Wondering if judges see the obvious faults of our justice system, and to know that some of them do is very comforting.
I know that change does not happen overnight but that does not mean it doesn’t happen. We have to learn and understand that justice does not always mean harsh punishment, it also means we must show leniency, forgiveness and understanding. Because as Mr. Ponser reminds us;
“Our prison apparatus is too costly, but more important, it is unworthy of us as a free people.”
Until next time, keep your back straight, your eyes open and always KEEP ON RICH ROLLIN. – DART
Song for this:
Artist: TIME AGAIN