In Favor Of Flogging

Suggest adding the whipping post to America’s system of criminal justice and most people recoil in horror. But offer a choice between five years in prison or 10 lashes and almost everybody picks the lash. What does that say about prison? … Never in the history of the world has a country locked up so many of its people. … Not even the most progressive reformer has a plan to reduce the prison population by 85 percent.  I do: Bring back the lash. Give convicts the choice of flogging in lieu of incarceration. …

Corporal punishment, said one early advocate of prisons, was a relic of “barbarous” British imperialism ill-suited to “a new country, simple manners, and a popular form of government.” … State by state, starting with Pennsylvania in 1790, … corporal punishment was struck from the criminal code. The idea was that penitentiaries would heal the criminally ill just as hospitals cured the physically sick. It didn’t work. … Of course some people are simply too dangerous to release — pedophiles, terrorists and the truly psychopathic, for instance. But they’re relatively few in number. … Incarceration destroys families and jobs, exactly what people need to have in order to stay away from crime. (more)

Yup. The US spends vast sums to affirm its myths of greatness, such on arms to affirm our saving the world from nazis, communists, etc. and on med to affirm our gift of modern med to the world. You might hope we’d give up eventually as myths become obviously wrong, but this prison myth, that we are kind because we won’t flog, has lasted for two centuries in the face of consistently contrary evidence, and gives no signs of abating.  Could our military and med myths last that long?

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