One Nation Under Mammon

…with liberty for the rich and powerful and theft from the rest of us.

Twinkie CEO Admits Company Took Employees Pensions and Put It Toward Executive Pay

HSBC, too big to jail, is the new poster child for US two-tiered justice system: DOJ officials unblinkingly insist that the banking giant is too powerful and important to subject to the rule of law

Meanwhile, a homeless man robbed a Louisiana bank and took a single $100 bill from the stack offered him by the teller. He said he was hungry. Later, filled with remorse, he returned it–and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The next day, some creep who stole 3 billion dollars got a light sentence.

Despicable and doubly despicable is our increasingly corrupt system of “justice”. But then again, in a pagan culture as ours increasingly is, the strong do as they please and the weak suffer what they must. In the words of Solzhenitsyn, “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” And it will only get worse until not just dispossessed and marginal people like Roy Brown feel it, but until the powerful and rich, driven by the pride and greed, make all of us feel it.

Or we can choose to feel it now on behalf of men like Roy Brown and the people being screwed by criminals in suits and begin to say, “This must stop.”

Saints can help us with this.  St. Wenceslaus, associated with a Christmas Carol for this day, is recalled in the carol, not for amassing wealth (a primary post-Christian American virtue) but for giving it away:

  • Michelle

    Every time you mention the story of that homeless robber, Mark, I’m amazed at the commenters who stream in to insist he really did deserve that sentence. In five, four, three….

    BTW, comboxers, before you get started again, go watch “Les Miserables,” just released in theaters this Christmas. The story of Inspector Javert, the merciless pursuer of justice, may hold some interest for you.

    • Thomas R

      Sadly poor people get poor quality lawyers. However my understanding is theft is still wrong if you can avoid it. Even if it hurt his pride I’m pretty sure it would have been better, morally, to beg than steal. So some punishment I think would be just. That said I agree that fifteen years is excessive if he didn’t hurt anyone or threaten anyone’s life.

    • Clare Krishan

      Ditto and double ditto on “Les Miserables” – both Fantine and Jean Valjean sung solos are wrenching in their pathos, yet the most disturbing is Javert’s (plot spoiler, so I’ll note only briefly in passing certain similarities to the brain-dead intransigence of our ‘fiscal cliff’ overlords and leave it at that)

  • deiseach

    “Steal a little and they put you in jail/Steal a lot and they make you a king”.

    No change since Dylan first wrote those lyrics.

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    Apples and oranges.

    Robbery / theft in any amount vs. threatening to kill somebody.

    If an individual walked into my mother’s bank with his hand under his jacket, implying he was aiming a handgun at my mother’s head and neck so as to force her to comply with his demand for her cooperation in a robbery, as Roy Brown did, even if it turned out he didn’t have a weapon, as Roy Brown did not, I would still want the book thrown at him.

    He was hungry? Soup kitchen. Food bank. Pan-handle. Swipe something from the grocery aisle.

    Threatening people with violence takes it up a notch from theft/robbery. A huge notch.

    People subjected to threats of being killed are subject to PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder)

    Asset-strippers are vampires in suits who deserve serious jail time. Homeless persons or any persons who induce PTSD in ordinary grunt level workers like my mother deserve serious jail time.

    Both should be eligible for parole no sooner that the 2020s.

    • EBS

      Blah blah blah. Post Traumatic Stress mumbo jumbo. Maybe Roy Brown wasn’t “thinking straight” enough, to go to a soup kitchen and obtain food with “dignity”, and “self respect”. If that bank teller has PST, she will get over it eventually. Sorry to sound a little insensitive, I just have a hard time sympathizing with a bank teller who didn’t have a hair harmed on her head, over a man that lives day to day on the concrete sidewalk, who now lives behind bars. I think the law was teaching the weak and homeless a lesson, because it was a BANK. These are sacred buildings you know. More important than any human is.

      • Thomas R

        I hope you don’t mean PTSD is “mumbo jumbo.” My current priest has it from serving as a chaplain in the Iraq War. If you mean he’s misusing the term okay, but it’s not something you just “suck up and get over” or something pansies made up.

        • EBS

          Um, reread my comment and you will know what I meant. Then go read Sean P Daileys comment Thomas. Tom K asked for commenters to apologize to Marion…now I think Marion should apologize to Veterans for equating the bank tellers (non) experience with that of a soldier of war. Then Marion needs to apologize to Roy Brown for saying he should be “eligible for parole no sooner than 2020″. The man gave himself up to police and clearly suffers from a multitude of problems consistent with being homeless. He is NOT an inferior class of human being and deserves our compassion, especially from those who claim to be Christian. What’s wrong with people today?

          • Marion (Mael Muire)

            Where in the medical definition of Post-traumatic stress disorder is it indicated that the condition occurs solely in a military environment?

            Herring. Red. Nice. Fat. Juicy. Enjoy. Me? No, thanks.

            • EBS

              Did you just go off in the last 24hours and read the medical definition if PTSD? You make alot of assumptions from others comments along wih your long elaborate “what if” scenarios. I just fail to see facts in your statements. No PTSD is very very real in all sorts of situations- but you seem To think that if a person is interrupted in the middle of a fart- he/she are prone to suffering from PTSD.
              In THIS scenario, the bank teller experience IS NOT the same experience as a veteran of war- I don’t care what scale you use or what medical journal you are reading from. Infact it insults other victims of violence, murder, rape, accidents that do genuinely suffer from PTSD to compare. Oh yeah, Don’t put words in other people’s mouths Marion. BTW, I thought you were “bowing out” from this combox….

      • Mike in KC, MO

        Before unloading a double barrel of snark in self-rightousness, maybe we should check the law.

        Not sure about where it took place, but in my area any robbery that involves the threat of violence jumps up several levels and has base sentencing requirements. He might have simply received what the written law demanded, not that some judge twirled his mustache and cackled with glee at the idea of dropping the hammer on a homeless guy.

        Now, is such a law just? Ah, THAT is a different matter. I would say no, it is not just, period. But in that case, we should be working to change laws not just getting angry at the judge.

        • EBS

          I agree. Can’t do much if the law is unjust. I suppose it comes down to those that have the money and power to manipulate the law. If you have corporate power behind you, you may well succeed. But if you honestly are struggling with day to day life on your own two feet, then you are less likely to try and manipulate; you are likely to straight out break the law- as Roy Brown did. He clearly stole that money. But he knew that- so he gave himself up to the law and received punishment- as he should. But not 15 years, especially since he has many issues related to being homeless, is shunned by society as a result. Any one of us could be in his position, and you would hope people extended compassion and help to us. Christ did that with Mary Magdalene.

        • http://www.thecrazyivans.com Kristen inDallas

          He (Roy) was arrested in Louisiana. There’s any interesting report out from the ACLU called in for a penny. It details some case studies in some of the worst states for laws regarding poverty related jail time. LA and MI struck me as 2 of the worst places to be poor. Anyway, the read is more about being imprisoned for failure to pay a fine, rather than an actual crime, but it does give you some background about how things are working there. And it wouldn’t shock me in the least if you found that the issue here boiled down to an unjust law rather than an unjust judge. (The law is what it is) HOWEVER, if the judge ha ever made an exception or granted a reduced sentence for some upper-class or well connected criminal (in which case the law is what i isn’t) then forgive me if I still feel some anger…

    • deiseach

      Yes, threats of violence are serious, and that is not something to be dismissed. But an asset-stripper can mean that the bank teller loses her job – which means all the stress of trying to pay bills, mortgage, etc. while not earning anything which means eating up savings which means more stress – and not alone that, but oftentimes all the things such as pension entitlements, redundancy pay and the rest are also consumed so the teller could be much worse off – objectively – than being threatened by a robber.

      Roy Thomas got fifteen years in jail. If the asset strippers get the bank teller’s job to evaporate and she loses her home because she can’t keep up the payments, nobody goes to prison and they get to keep their perks and bonuses because their contracts say so and the government can’t do anything about it (do you detect a note of bitterness because, say, in my country the directors of a bank which needed a massive bailout of taxpayer money to keep going still got their perks and when the enraged populace asked why, the explanation from our leaders was that sorry, they couldn’t do anything about it, these were the conditions of their contracts and even though the government was now technically the owner of the bank and employer of these guys, their hands were tied? Why, perhaps you do detect such a note!).

  • Bryan

    Marion, from the second link:

    “Over the last year, federal investigators found that one of the world’s largest banks, HSBC, spent years committing serious crimes, involving money laundering for terrorists; “facilitat[ing] money laundering by Mexican drug cartels”; and “mov[ing] tainted money for Saudi banks tied to terrorist groups”. Those investigations uncovered substantial evidence “that senior bank officials were complicit in the illegal activity.” As but one example, “an HSBC executive at one point argued that the bank should continue working with the Saudi Al Rajhi bank, which has supported Al Qaeda.”

    Still apples and oranges?

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    Apples and oranges.

    The law has always regarded direct, personal threats of violence against a fellow human being as among the most serious of crimes.

    Not the only serious crimes.

    But its own kind of serious crime.

    There are plenty of other serious crimes. Even several other more serious.

    Like actually carrying out said threats.

    But that’s only one example. There are plenty of others.

    • http://www.chesterton.org Sean P. Dailey

      I echo what Bryan says. As a veteran myself, who has been shot at, and who knows people who have suffered from PTSD, I say that your invocation of that malady is foolish and thoughtless. And bringing your mother into it is shameless bullying. If you thought such a tactic would shut the rest of us up, you’re mistaken.

      All your shoddy rhetoric boils down to is, screw the homeless, expecially when they rob banks.

      • http://mondayevening.wordpress.com/ Marcel

        Yeah, it’s like she’s putting a gun to your head.

  • Bryan

    Marion:
    Simply repeating “apples and oranges” is a smug non-response. You yourself admit that direct personal threats are not the only kind of serious crime. So how is laundering money for drug cartels and terrorist organizations worse, or even morally equivalent, to an impoverished old man making an impotent threat to get $100 for food?

    And I have to say as a military veteran that your invocation of PTSD in defense of, in general and on principle, punishing unarmed homeless men more harshly for acts of simple robbery than those who provide direct material support to international drug cartels and terrorist organizations is personally offensive. There is legal recourse for those who experience PTSD as the result of a crime. One could claim PTSD in the case of a driver who hits and cripples a small child who jaywalks and runs in front of their vehicle. That does not make the child responsible for causing PTSD to the driver, despite it being the indirect result of a legal transgression on the child’s part.

    Forgive me for saying this, but why do I get the awful feeling that if a man in our time went to the temple courts and found people selling cattle and others sitting at tables exchanging money, and that man made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, and scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, that some folks who today call themselves “followers of Christ” would say that the man deserved serious legal prosecution for his “direct personal threat?”

  • Dan C

    In chess, the king is never captured. All the other pieces, wiped out. But the game ends one move prior to the king being captured.

    This has it always been. The powerful have different rules.

  • Elaine S.

    The Snopes.com link, which contains the story of the homeless bank robber, notes that its own source (a single news article) doesn’t mention whether Brown had a previous criminal record that might have affected the length of his sentence. This may also explain why white-collar, corporate criminals don’t often get lengthy sentences — they usually don’t have previous criminal records, having managed to stay out of trouble, or at least not get caught, in their teenage and young adult years.
    Meanwhile, we now have people on the economic Right using private sector pension plundering incidents like those at Hostess to argue in favor of the same thing being done to public employees. Yes, I know there is a difference between private and public (taxpayer) funding and situations have developed in some states (the State of Illinois, for which I work, is currently the poster child for this) that make current benefit levels unsustainable without either devastating budget cuts or ruinous tax increases. So something does have to give and benefits WILL have to be reduced at some point — I realize that.
    That said, the main reason this situation developed was because past politicians, over many, many years, took money that was supposed to help support these pension funds, and instead spent it on their favorite pork projects or on more politically popular programs, so that they would not have to raise taxes to pay for them. In essence they stole from future generations of retirees. Now, they are trying to get out of that fix by blaming the workers for being too “greedy” and many on the Right chime in with comments like “It’s time they joined the real world — why should they have retirement security when a lot of taxpayers don’t?” In other words, they are arguing that two wrongs make a right.

  • merkn

    I actually like Glen Greenwald who I consider an honest leftist, but the problem with the “articles’ linked here is that they really aren’t news stories so much as diatribes that conceal the actual facts. For instance, what exactly is “money laundering”; did the bank fail to fill out some paperwork, or were they actually wiring money from the Taliban to weapons contractors. Are there actual terrorist links or are we to assume that by virtue of doing business with the Saudies they are funding terrorists becuase we are to assume that all Saudis are terrorists. The Hostess article isn’t much better. In the same breath in which the author claims management committed theft, he admits nothing “technically” illegal was done. Larceny is a crime. Even in bankruptcy court. So they stole something or they didn’t. The reader can’t tell. Usually in a bankruptcy can’t fund operations without approval of the Court. did the Court approve these expenditures? If so, why? These articles themselves are a species of the dishonesty that they condemn – - dishonesty is dishonesty, even if in a good cause like protecting the rights of the downtrodden from the merciless forces of capitalist Mammon. That would be cosequentialism, right?

    • Dave P.

      Re Hostess: It may have been legal, but it certainly was not the morally right thing to do. Another example: it was legal in the Northern Kingdom to sell someone into slavery over the price of a pair of sandals. The Lord, through the prophet Amos, disagreed.

      • merkn

        My point is not that it was moral, but that you cannot tell what happened by reading the article. It seems like the Company did not make a pension fund contribution when due, and that the money was used to cover “operations”. That is not the same as the company presiodent paid himself a big bonus from the pension fund. What if the money from the bakers pensuion was used to pay the Teamsters, or pay for supplies, or rent to keep the plant from being shuttered, or to pay labor relations lawyers to deal with the 200 plus different contracts they had? I don’t know, and neither does anyone who only read this article. Articles like this are just an invitation to people to reflect their own biases. They generate heat, but no light.

  • http://manicdoodlings.blogspot.com Steve

    St. Wenceslaus patron of the Bohemians–sound like my kind of saint!

  • The Deuce

    I don’t care whether unknown circumstances (previous criminal record, etc) may help to justify Brown’s sentence (and given that he brought the money back of his own accord, how bad can he be?). The difference in punishment between him and the culpable parties at HSBC are still wildly disproportionate, under the most imaginative scenario you could realistically dream up. They ought justly to be serving many consecutive life sentences at the least, and execution at the most, for their acts of treason and culpability in mass-murder.

  • http://www.chesterton.org Sean P. Dailey

    To date, Iceland is currently the only Western country to arrest, convict, and incarcerate its bankers for their role in the worldwide recession. Iceland also refused to bail out its failing banks.

    It’s also the only Western country undergoing a robust recovery. Funny how that works.

  • Stu

    One thing can be said for the homeless man. His own conscience convicted him and compelled him to do the right thing.

    I’m not sure I have seen that in the world of white collar crime.

  • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

    If you google “Roy brown robber” without the quotes, you can harvest more information about the case. In a different article he is supposed to have said that he took money in order to be able to stay in a detox center. I suspect that part of the judge’s reasoning might be that this was a man who was committing crime in order to get institutionalized. I don’t know this for sure and jail is a poor second to a proper mental health facility but Roy Brown, if he was doing it, wouldn’t be alone. This does show a nasty aspect to how we treat our unfortunates, but it’s not the one that Mark Shea was highlighting.

    To be proper christians we must first of all love the objects of our charity enough to tailor our remedies to their actual needs and then *do something* for them that *will actually help*.

    On the “too big to fail” front, I’m long on record that the proper term is “underinsured”. On the “too big to jail” front, I would add that the proper term is “taking an unacceptable fiduciary risk” for any of their customers to continue to deal with that company. In both cases, there is a perfectly acceptable way to grind these worms to dust without changing one jot of the law. We just have to *do something* about them that *will actually help*.

    See what I did there? It was on purpose.

    • Stu

      I see what you did there. :)

  • Peggy R

    We are looking at apples and oranges here, as some commenters have noted. As typical, an end result doesn’t seem right, so it MUST be WRONG and UNJUST. Not that I will defend each outcome, as I need to examine the details. I do admit we’ve really gone down a bad path with this “too big to fail” mess. Let them fail. The wreckage will get picked up and recovery is possible.

    When we are given rants to read with prejudicial terms such as “Bain style,” “vulture capitalism” and the like, it’s hard to get to the plain facts.

  • John Janaro

    In the words of Solzhenitsyn, “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

    In case we may be tempted to say, “yeah yeah, we know that,” let us not forget that this is no breezy comment from Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Very few people in history have learned and experienced the truth of this like Solzhenitsyn. He was a passionate young Marxist who was sent to the Gulag for arguing (in a private letter) that Stalin *wasn’t* a good Marxist. After years in the Gulag “hell” (which he has chronicled in ruthless detail for all the ages), Solzhenitsyn became convinced that there was more than this material world. His faith in God and Christianity finally came years after he was released, as he continued to endure and reflect upon life in that whole huge prison that was the Soviet Union. This is a man who knew what he was talking about.
    The *Gulag Archipelago* is 1500 pages long. But it is one of the greatest “arguments” for the existence of God that I know. Ivan Karamazov told us that “If God does not exist, everything is permitted.” Solzhenitsyn shows us the brutal ugliness of what that really *means*!
    We would all do well to read him, or read him again.

  • Dan C

    The bankers will never be arrested. They never were in all of history. It is notable that the critiques of the homeless man fail really to judge the bankers. “Apples and oranges” comments distract from the sins of the bankers. No judgement on the bankers.

    God will judge them for those in thrall to this system will not, most being self-professed orthodox Christians. These bankers should be glad it is a merciful God and not I, for they would be looking on from Gehenna as the rich man in the bible, with this homeless man in the bosom of Abraham, if I were their judge.

    Christians needs to denounce such distortions of the common good as these unhinged, unregulated, and over venerated capitalists have wrought. Not find excuses to further pile on the homeless man.

    • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

      I don’t think that the bankers need to be arrested to be corrected. Their current behavior is at least in part encouraged by the system of which we all are a part. Insist on calling “underinsured” what others call “too big to fail” and you will be astonished at the agitation you cause. You see people go to jail for risking shareholder money with underinsured institutions that fail. It’s called violating fiduciary responsibility. If we plant the seed that these institutions are underinsured, they loose business and therefore will amend their behavior and their business practices.

      But no, the bankers won’t be arrested. You are perfectly correct. But that isn’t what’s necessary to fix that problem.

      As for the fellow in detox robbing during a bender so he can stay in a program, this too needs a different approach. If he has mental health issues (and many addicts do), we need to treat those better so that people won’t commit crimes just to get in or stay in a program. The guy went in and confessed while he was drunk. The police only interviewed and arrested him after he sobered up. He wasn’t in custody during that time. He wanted to be jailed. The judge obliged. Should the judge have obliged him? I have no idea. I don’t have enough to know more than this is one strange case and that snopes doesn’t have the whole story.

  • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

    ‘“Apples and oranges” comments distract from the sins of the bankers. No judgement on the bankers.’

    Now write your follow-up comment, apologizing to Marion for missing the part where she judges the bankers.

    • Dan C

      Absolutely, you are correct. The “apples and oranges” posting of Marion did include the sentence “”Asset strippers are vampires in suits who deserve serious jail time.”

      I apologize. Ms. Marion included that sentence.

      • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

        Well, maybe that’s the best you can do.

        And maybe your sanctimony will make this country more just.

        • Marion (Mael Muire)

          Thank you, Tom. You are most kind. I am only sorry to have been a part of so unfortunate an exchange.

          One bowed out for that reason, and also because the timbre of the more unfortunate of these remarks served only to illuminate the dispositions of one’s interlocuters; dispositions the character of which the word otiose is perhaps as felicitous as any.

          • Bryan

            You bowed out because your position is morally and intellectually indefensible.

            And it’s “interlocutor.”

            • Marion (Mael Muire)

              Bryan,

              If you don’t take the time to even actually read and process what I write, then don’t expect me to accept or process even your correction of my spelling.

              Learn to think.

              • Marion (Mael Muire)

                P.S.

                This has proved to be a valuable thread.

                I have learned and noted who is and who is not capable of processing information at beyond 11th grade reading level.

                • EBS

                  Some of your points are quite valid and I usually enjoy your comments. But It makes for a better exchange when criticism of ideas is given AND criticism of ideas is taken, which of course involves humility and having an open mind. It doesn’t help when you declare yourself judge and jury on others- on Roy Browns actions, on Bryans opinion, on other commenters intellectual capacity, as though your intellect was far superior to those that disagree….and can’t use big fancy words.

                  • Marion (Mael Muire)

                    Well, then, EBS, I humbly disagree with your argument that the United States should withdraw all trade with Hong Kong beginning in 2013.

                    • Marion (Mael Muire)

                      “you declare yourself judge and jury on others- on Roy Browns actions”

                      Roy Brown is fortunate that an off-duty police officer wasn’t on the scene when he indicated to the bank teller that he had a gun and that he was prepared to empty its contents into her body unless she handed over some cash.

                      If the off-duty police officer had been present and had picked up on that at the moment Mr. Brown made his threat, he would have certainly unholstered his service revolver and taken Mr. Brown out, then and there, no questions asked.

                      Mr. Brown would today not be in jail. He would be dead.

                      This would have been a tragedy. No, I would not be glad he was dead. No, I would not agree with anyone who said Mr. Brown deserved to die, or that we shouldn’t regret what happened to him.

                      But, he would be dead. And it’s lucky for him he isn’t. Lucky for all of us, really, because that would have been a horrible thing.

                      And yet, to the police officer who took him out, having heard him threaten the life of the bank teller, I would, “you did what you had to do. On the best information you had at the moment, you acted so as to protect the lives of others. If the exact same circumstances arose again, you would be right to discharge your duty in the exact same way. Tragic though the results may be.”

                      I would wish that Mr. Brown were still alive and had chosen to take up pick-pocketing instead of bank robbing. Pick-pocketing is much safer.

                      And that’s what our asset-strippers are, really. Pick-pockets, but on an epic scale. And they’ve got our ruling class in their pockets, as well, which is why they continue to get away with what they’re doing and don’t go to jail.

                      Pick-pocketing is one thing. It’s really bad, especially when it’s epic.

                      Threatening people’s lives with a gun is a different thing. It’s also really bad. And it can get you dead, even if you didn’t even really have a gun all along.

                    • http://www.chesterton.org Sean P. Dailey

                      “Mr. Brown made his threat, he would have certainly unholstered his service revolver and taken Mr. Brown out, then and there, no questions asked.”

                      Then he would have been an extremely poorly traind off-duty police officer. But your bloodlust is duly noted.

                    • EBS

                      You are a wonderful story teller. Maybe you should go into children’s literature.

                    • EBS

                      Here you go Marion… I’ll hold a mirror up for you so you can take a better look at yourself.

                  • Marion (Mael Muire)

                    Your comments are off-topic. I’m not the subject of this discussion. The comparative evils of threats of bodily harm vs. theft, and the disparate ways in which our society treats the poor who transgress vs. the rich is the subject of this discussion.

                    Trust me, I am the most boring subject of any conversation anyone could possibly ever have, ever. You don’t want to go there. Because the worst crime any internet user could ever commit is to be boring.

                    • Marion (Mael Muire)

                      Sean P. Daily wrote: But your bloodlust is duly noted.

                      Epic bogosity. And boring.

                      No small feat.

                    • http://www.chesterton.org Sean P. Dailey

                      Thank you Marion. Your complete inability to debate honestly also is duly noted.

  • Arnold

    The homeless man was treated grossly unfairly. That is clear. I also read the article about the Hostess executives and found the tone and wording of the article tendentious. It is obviously a lefty publication, the author even had to bring Bain into it somehow as if Romney were responsible for the pension raiding, through supposed example if not in fact. I would have preferred you linked to a more trustworthy source of information on the matter than a politically inspired screed.

    • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

      One of the better ideas coming out of the GOP is to stop funding benefits through employers and allow people to group up and buy them through non-work associations. That way companies can’t pull fast maneuvers like this and rotate the executives so fast that figuring out responsibility is legitimately hard. The lefty screed does link to a WSJ article and if you google the title, you can find it without paywall on yahoo.

      I’m not sure about the homeless man. I need more information. If he was openly committing crimes with the intent to be institutionalized, the judge is in a tough spot. A light sentence means that a guy with some loose screws gets on the street with the desire to commit crimes so he can go back to jail. You can go heavy now and give the guy what he wants or go light and pray the next time doesn’t involve people getting hurt. How would you judge?

  • http://www.leepenn.org Lee Penn

    Not to justify the homeless robber’s sentence … but I wonder if the outcome was driven by a mandatory minimum sentence law, for that crime or based on his prior record.

    If so, this would be another instance of a miscarriage of justice driven by a reform that law-and-order people ardently sought from the 1960s onward.

    Lee

    • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

      It could be, or it could be from the deinstitutionalization movement of about the same vintage or even a combination of the two. The question is how do we climb down from the ledge.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    The rich oppress the poor. Justice is trampled. Mercy hard to find. The Law and the Prophets have so much to say on this. God help us. Lord have mercy.

  • Bryan

    William Spengler, the fellow who just deliberately set those fires in New York and then ambushed the firefighters who responded, previously served eighteen years for bludgeoning his own grandmother to death with a hammer.

    Eighteen years for bashing his grandmother’s skull in with a hammer. And of course many folks are putting the blame for his latest act of psychotic violence on the model of gun he used.

  • Bryan

    Deiseach really nailed a good point. Some people claim that “direct personal threats” make an act of petty theft or simple robbery equivalent or even worse than acts of grand larceny that deprive hundreds or thousands of people of their livelihood. Might it not cause some sort of “traumatic stress” to a person to realize that they will not be able to retire despite saving and working for their entire lives? Such an injustice basically boils down to a sentence of hard labor until death handed to a law-abiding senior citizen. (and in this conversation I don’t care what the civil law says because this is not a legal blog. We are discussing actual right and wrong, not legal and illegal.)

    Frankly, I tend to agree in one narrow aspect of the premise of Fight Club: the modern (primarily Western) notion that physical injury is the absolute worst thing that can happen to a person is beyond silly. It is evil. I am personally convinced that this absurd notion motivates the modern social trend of totally emasculating young men and as a result plays an indirect role in their sublimating normal aggressive urges into stuff like disgusting video games and, yes, even shooting sprees.

    Even if one subscribes directly to an “eye-for-eye” ethos, fifteen years in prison is not in any way, shape or form equivalent to physically threatening a person without even harming a hair on their head. I’m not joking when I say that many problems today which are “solved” (but never really, of course) with jail time, probation, paperwork, criminal records, loss of employment opportunities, social stigmatization, etc. could be much more easily and JUSTLY resolved with a swift kick in the ass or even a good old-fashioned fist-beating. The modern conventional wisdom that says otherwise is the same “logic” that leads a person to somehow conclude that it is better for a senior-citizen to be robbed of their entire life savings than to be slapped on the cheek or threatened with a water pistol. It’s crazy.

    We have embraced as Revealed Truth the idea that the merest act of physicality is the absolute worst possible thing that can happen to anybody anywhere, and in has helped create the perverse, backwards, craven cultural climate in which we live. It is also tied to the disappearance of Fathers and general Good Men. It’s a Cowardly New World.

  • EBS

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s a soft society, with no tolerance of a real right and wrong- Gods right and wrong. The right and wrong that is “suppose” to be, in each persons conscience. A society with a very narisissistic mentality that serves the “self”, and fails to look at another’s plight. And too many smart alecs playing tootsies with the written law- whether it be lawyers or commenters on blogs. A good kick up the bum never hurt anyone. Totally agree. Unfortunately everyone is too afraid to do it.

  • Richard Johnson

    ” Even if it hurt his pride I’m pretty sure it would have been better, morally, to beg than steal.”

    Yes, because then the self-righteous can stand and condemn him for begging instead of getting out and working.

    • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

      The Pharisees condemnation no doubt stung at the time but in the bigger scheme of things it is a much bigger problem for the Pharisees.


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