Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Morality & criminality

ANONYMOUS SAID:

“Japan, Sweden, Denmark, etc., have *significantly* lower violent crime rates than America, and *just so happen* to be highly non-Christian, but there is no correlation between their social systems and their actions?”

Of course, this has next to nothing to do with my original post. For the equation between morality and criminality is fallacious.

Every crime is not a vice, and every vice is not a crime.

On the one hand, miscegenation used to be a crime under Jim Crow. Did that make interracial marriage immoral? Or was the law immoral?

On the other hand, a vice may not be a crime. Alcoholism is a vice, but it’s not a crime.

To judge the public morality of a nation by the crime rate is fallacious at several levels:

i) The appeal is circular. For it all depends on what behavior is legal or illegal.

Suppose drug use is a crime. As such, there’s a direct correlation between high drug use and high crime.

Now, you could make the crime go away overnight by simply decriminalization drug use.

The rate of drug use would remain the same, but the crime rate would drop to zero.

ii) To judge public morality by criminality is exceedingly superficial. What about rates of alcoholism, drug addiction, and suicide in Sweden or Demark?

They may not be criminal activities. But they are social ills.

iii) In addition, whether we consider one country morally superior to another depends on our respective value-system. I don’t regard a country that euthanizes the young and the old to be a model of social ethics.

17 comments:

  1. I think a truely moral country would stone their heretics, and keep their women silenced.

    Just like the good book says.

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  2. Countries in Northern Europe tend to have a greater problem with alcoholism. And Finland has the highest suicide rate. This is due to long darkness and no restraining mechanisms. Health education alone will not cause people to give up getting blind drunk. There must be shame.

    And that brings me to the greatest problem of the modern age. Pornography, which is a particular problem in many of these countries.

    So much for the religious oppression of women. At least I don't encourage people to view women as mere objects.

    In an irreligious country they oppress women and anyone who doesn't agree with the dominant ideology. And the streets aren't safe. Round the corner from here a man got beaten to death just because he dared to challenge a gang of youths who were terrorising the neighbourhood.

    Yes, in this happy land of secularism, all is sweetness and light.

    Pull the other one. It has bells on.

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  3. And, removing the spittle of ranting from my mouth, let me say something sensible.

    It is clear that there is no correlation between levels of religiosity and rising crime. In the 1904-5 Revival here in Wales, there was a marked drop in cases coming before the magistrates, criminal and civil. In some areas there were literally no cases to be heard.

    That being so, we ought perhaps to look elsewhere. Sweden, Denmark and Japan have one thing in common, a tradition of state interference in most aspects of life. Indeed, Sweden is famous for its comprehensive welfare system.

    In addition, family breakup is rarer in these countries than in the Anglo-Saxon world. These countries are known for their close-knit communities, or have been known for them in the past.

    Thus, I would argue that while the Scandinavian and Japanese examples furnish good evidence for a communitarian or a socialist, to fix on religion, or the lack of it, as a reason for the low crime rate would be a mistake.

    Further, last time I looked, Denmark, Sweden and Japan have another thing in common. Very low levels of immigration and a relatively homogenous society. But, of course, this has nothing to do with their relatively low crime rate.

    As Lord Beaconsfield so famously said 'there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.'

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  4. Hiraeth,

    Has there been studies and research to back up what you are saying?

    Studing violent crime, I have found that the U.S. is by far the worst out of modern western countries.

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  5. Sometimes religion, even Christianity, can make a person worse. Frederick Douglass was the most vehement toward the slave owners who were the most religious. "The more devout they were the harsher they were toward us."

    John Derbyshire wrote this: "I have now come to think that it really makes no difference, net-net. You can point to people who were improved by faith, but you can also see people made worse by it. Anyone want to argue that, say, Mohammed Atta was made a better person by his faith?"

    "Can Christianity make you a worse person? I’m sure it can. If you’re a person with, for example, a self-righteous conviction of your own moral superiority, well, getting religion is just going to inflame that conviction. Again, I know cases, and I’m sure you do too."

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  6. I know this is off the subject, but I thought I would post a homework assignment that I once had about legalization or atleast decriminalization of certain drugs.

    We are loosing the “war on drugs”. Much of the programs, policies, and laws that have been implemented thus far have failed to stop the demand for illegal drugs, the opportunities for drugs to be brought in to the country or manufactured domestically and distributed to the dealers and users.

    As the country learned during Prohibition, whenever an item is outlawed that the public has high demands for, great opportunities for organized crime groups arise. Then there is all of the crime that results on the lower levels, like street gangs feuding over turf and small time dealers. Violent crime ends up being a result. For the most part, this is the level that most local law enforcement ends up dealing with.

    There is always the option of legalization, but most opponents say that this would cause more people to abuse, but I’m toward the opinion that people who end up using drugs will do so regardless of whether the drugs are legal or not, and the drugs are already widely available to anyone and everyone as it is. I think I could probably deal with the legalization of less potent and dangerous substances like marijuana, but not the dangerous and addictive drugs like cocaine, heroine, and the chemical compounds like meth and ecstasy. At least decriminalizing marijuana could be beneficial to the criminal justice system and society though. It just seems silly to lock up individuals for many years on marijuana charges and then be forced to let out violent offenders because of vacancy issues. Many of the drug dealers that get busted and go to prison to begin with are drug abusers themselves that deal drugs to support their addictions.

    There definitely needs to be more emphasis placed in curbing the demand for illegal drugs. Educational programs that focus on the dangers of drug abuse and how to avoid drugs to begin with could be useful. Also, medical and psychological help for those that are addicted should be provided. I’m sure programs like these are already available to some extent, but this is really the key to wining the “war on drug” in the long run.

    I recieved this post in response to mine by a lady named Samantha. Here it is, along with my response to her.

    "Right after I did this assingment, I did a small poll of the people around me. Everyone around me is affiliated with the military. I can say with certainty, there are people who do not use drugs right now that would if it were legal. I'm not just talking about marijuana either. Aside from that, I just feel like legalization is an easy solution for a government tired of trying. If your child were addicted to cocaine, legally or illegally, would you not continue to try and get them help. Or would you give up after a few tries? Any improvement is still just that, improvement."
    Samantha
    ________________________________________
    Samantha,
    If drugs such as marijuana were legalized, it wouldn't stop various businesses and institutions (such as the military) from drug screening. The fact that drug screening has become so popular to begin with is because so much of society uses illegal drugs.
    As far as legalization, as I said in my post, I wouldn't be opposed to doing this for marijuana, but not for addictive and dangerous drugs. Another thing I mentioned was to decriminalize various drugs, in other words, if someone is busted, they would be sent to a rehab for treatment instead of an overcrowded prison where they will not receive treatment. This utilizes the medical model. Not to mention, studies show that low level criminals that do time in prison come out worse criminals than they were before going in. Also, with prison overcrowding, more serious or violent criminals are being let out so that people busted for marijuana can be housed.
    Also, the low level drug abusers and dealers are the ones that are getting busted, not the big time dealers. If any difference is to be made busting people, it's going to have to be the big dogs, which means keeping people from getting this stuff across the border (better border security and surveillance), and of course when big money is involved, corruption is going to take place, so that has to be constantly checked on.
    As far as more people using drugs if they were legal, I'm not sure of that. I don't think the law deters very many people from using drugs to begin with. The amount of money spent on illegal drugs testifies to that fact, but lets suppose that violent crime and corruption go down from legalizing drugs, wouldn't that seem like a better option as opposed to people using marijuana in the privacy of their own home and not harming anyone? Just an idea. I think that everyone agrees that programs are needed to educate people (especially kids) of the dangers of drug use. The demand for drugs has to be eliminated. Also, better medical and psychological services are needed to better help people that are already addicted.

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  7. Sometimes religion, even Christianity, can make a person worse. Frederick Douglass was the most vehement toward the slave owners who were the most religious. "The more devout they were the harsher they were toward us."

    John Derbyshire wrote this: "I have now come to think that it really makes no difference, net-net. You can point to people who were improved by faith, but you can also see people made worse by it. Anyone want to argue that, say, Mohammed Atta was made a better person by his faith?"

    "Can Christianity make you a worse person? I’m sure it can. If you’re a person with, for example, a self-righteous conviction of your own moral superiority, well, getting religion is just going to inflame that conviction. Again, I know cases, and I’m sure you do too."


    Hi John,

    Sorry, I don't mean to be mean about this, but I'd like to bring the following out because (1) it's already public knowledge given that you've published a book which included this incident and that you yourself have in fact brought it up on T-blog with Steve a little while back; and (2) in order to apply what you've said here to your own life.

    If we turn your comment here around to yourself, what then would that mean for your adulterous affair? Would it mean you're a person with, for example, the inclination to cheat on his wife? So that, once you "got religion" (as opposed to true peace and reconciliation with God in Christ Jesus), it just "inflamed" that passion which was already resident in you?

    If so, then doesn't this prove that you (and all of us) are sinners -- just as the Bible itself teaches?

    Again, I'm not at all trying to be a jerk about this, but only attempting to apply your own words to yourself. Which seems reasonable enough.

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  8. Patrick, thanks for being such a nice guy here, like some others. You all seem to have a fortress mentality. Bunker down, and then attack. Use spiteful examples whenever possible. Bring them up in any way possible, and in as many ways as possible, no matter what the topic is, although some topics are more conducive to this than others. You have some poor models to follow here, or you want to be accepted by them. This seems little different than those who climb the corporate ladder. They kiss as much ass as they can. But trust me when I say you don't want to climb this ladder. Being respectful and cordial with everyone is the better way to go.

    Anyway, let's look at your example. In the first place, I never said that getting religion will make everyone worse off, nor did I say that every aspect of a person will become worse off with religion, so there was no need at all for the comparison, if you actually thought about what I said.

    In the second place, I think Christians are hung up over sex. Many Christian couples don't talk about it because it's taboo. It's of the flesh...dirty...and even sinful to fantasize about having sex with someone else, even though they all do it, you included. Do you and your wife experiment, role play? If you aren't married you masterbate, correct? Do you deny this? How many times a week do you do it? Can't admit that you do? Then that's what I mean. If you're married, then how many times a week did you do it before getting married? Won't admit it? Then that's what I mean. How often do you look at pornography on the web? Do you have any latent homosexual tendencies that you know of? Won't discuss this with even your closest friend? Then that's what I mean. Christians suppress these things, as Freud first pointed out, and it's emotionally unhealthy (of course spilling you guts out to just anyone is equally unhealthy).

    Sex is biologically based and yet Christians don't talk about it with their kids, except to tell them to wait until marriage to have it. Christians feel guilty about their sexual fantasies, and are afraid to bring them up to their spouse, so their sex life goes dull after about seven years of being married. Would I had had an affair if I never was a Christian? I don't know. Will you? You don't really know, either. I never would've believed I would ever walk away from Christianity, so don't think it's beyond you either, to have an affair or leave your faith.

    In the third place, there are reasons why people have affairs. One of them is that they no longer feel loved and no longer love their spouse. One of the vows we say at a wedding is that we promise "to love and to cherish" our spouses. That is the whole reason for marriage. That is the basis for marriage. What do you do when your spouse no longer loves you? What do you do when you no longer love your spouse? My ex-wife told me she was no longer attracted to me. What would that do to you? Only people who have been married over 20 years know the pain and struggle of it all. Some choose to go ahead living their lives out, fullfiling the vow about being faithful, and yet living the rest of their lives unhappily. Other choose differently, like me. I remember so many older church couples who would argue with each other over everything...everything. They didn't even like each other. They felt stuck because of their vows. The bickering and fighting every time I saw them made me want to puke. Ahhhh, but they are doing something I failed to do. They are faithful. Bullshit! Their marriage is a sham. A pretense. A farce. A lie. I was not going to live out my life in a lie.

    Fourthly, there were extenuating circumstances about my affair that you just may be too young to ever conceive could ever actually happen.

    Lastly, pollster George Barna's research has shown that “a surprising number of Christians experienced divorces both before and after their conversion.” [www.barna.org]. Why should it be different for skeptics when they leave their religion?

    I suspect I throw "pearls" before the swine here. I am trying to be honest. I'm sincere and all you do is bunker down and then attack. Maybe, there's a line here you can use against me in the future to steer away any conversations I want to have with you. Go ahead then. I'd rather be free from the guilt you all feel about these kinds of things. Deep inside you feel the same way I do. You just won't admit it. If you don't, you will. I just hope you remember who told them to you.

    You'll never find someone like me who can be transparent before his enemies in ways they cannot. That's another reason I reject Christianity. I can be myself. I am free from those who would try to censor me. Like I say. It's better over here.

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  9. Anon. With reference to the similarities, etc, I reply that there have been studies, but can't name 'em just now. I'm about to go off to work and so I don't have the time. Mostly my point was that one cannot assume a simplistic correlation between one statistic and another. For all I know there's an apparent correlation between the number of pies baked on a given day and the number of violent crimes.

    Might I know the source of your statistics?

    John. I agree with you, for some people, all things are a snare. Still, I would caution generally about speaking of 'religion.' There is no such thing. Religious believers believe the tenets of their religion.

    However, I would agree that there is always a danger of self-righteousness, a danger Jesus specifically warned of. However, I have found that there are some people who will be insufferable prigs, whatever they believe, e.g. Richard Dawkins.

    And the word verification is jhoefiat, presumably a lesser-known King of Israel or Judah.

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  10. And that brings me to the greatest problem of the modern age. Pornography, which is a particular problem in many of these countries.

    Pornography is a problem... why?

    Oh you think it makes women into "lesser beings"? Kinda like how you tell them to shut up in church and be obedient?

    Pornography is worship of women - a creature way more deserving of worship than your so-called "God"

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  11. Steve,

    You were obviously refuted in your claim that without Christianity around, it would be "a matter of time" before "rape...etc" became a matter of rule and not the exception.

    Just admit it. We all get carried away with rhetoric sometimes. Don't sacrifice your integrity by moving the goalposts. Don't try to re-state what you said as "general morality" versus specific crimes.

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  12. "Alcoholism is a vice, but it’s not a crime."

    Alcoholism was accepted as a disease by the American Medical Association in 1956 -- 60 years ago.

    Is diabetes a vice?

    http://tinyurl.com/y7aa6m

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  13. But drinking until one throws up is not a disease. One may abuse alcohol and not be an alcoholic.

    And, anon, if you believe pornography is the worship of women you're a bigger fool than I thought. It is the deliberate objectification of women. Does the man who sees nothing wrong in commenting loudly on the phys8ical 'assets' of women, despite their obvious discomfort worship them?

    Does the man who breaks into a girl's room on her first day in college and rapes her because he's drunk and believes that's what she 'wants' worship her?

    Don't make me laugh, laddie.

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  14. I think it's more ironic to realize that anonymistake's comments on pornography actually demonstrate Steve's original post to be accurate....

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  15. Hiraeth said...

    Does the man who breaks into a girl's room on her first day in college and rapes her because he's drunk and believes that's what she 'wants' worship her?


    There is absolutely no proven link between "pornography" and "rape".

    Rape is a crime of power and control.

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  16. And the viewing of women as mere collections of parts to have loud comment made upon in a public space?

    Laddie, some rape has to do with sex. It is lust gone wild. Particularly in cases where large quantities of alcohol are involved.

    Yes, the man who makes a habit of rape is doing it for reasons of power. The drunken, lust-maddened 'fresher' at University is thinking of sex and believes that his unwilling victim is 'up for it.'

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  17. Hiraeth said...

    "And the viewing of women as mere collections of parts to have loud comment made upon in a public space?"

    You seem to believe that woman have no choice in the matter. Remember, if a woman takes her clothes off to be photographed, she well knows the possible consequences of those actions or she should know.

    Laddie, some rape has to do with sex. It is lust gone wild. Particularly in cases where large quantities of alcohol are involved.

    Yes, I agree. I am talking about rape in the true sense of the word, not date rape or statuatory rape, or now even "spousal rape", where the husband, that isn't separated from his wife, but in good, normal relations with his wife, can actually be brought up on charges of raping his wife, if she charges that he did so against her will.


    "Yes, the man who makes a habit of rape is doing it for reasons of power. The drunken, lust-maddened 'fresher' at University is thinking of sex and believes that his unwilling victim is 'up for it.'

    No, I disagree that this is always the case. If both students are drunk and engage in sex and the girl later claims that she was raped, the boy can be prosecuted and sent to prison for many years. This has happened and it's an injustice in my oppinion. There have been many false accusations that have ruined lives as well. I know you are in the UK, but I wonder if you have heard of what going on here in my state of NC, where some boys from Duke University are being accused and charged with raping an exotic dancer. The evidence that has been released to the public thus far have shown that the charges should be dropped, but regardless of the charges being dropped or if the trial goes forward and they are found not guilty, their lives are ruined. Many people think that the charges being brought on these boys to begin with was a political ploy by the DA Nifong who was up for reelection shortly after the incident.

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