Sunday, August 23, 2015

Americans (from Sacramento) Do the Job, and: What to Do with Bad People?

On August 21, a terrorist tried to kill many people on the Thalys bullet train from Amsterdam to Paris. (See: Thalys Attack).

Amazingly, I relate to this event in two ways:

1. As it so happens, I have taken this train many times, It’s always a marvelous experience.

2. The terrorist’s attempt was foiled by three Americans (assisted by some other passengers, including Chris Norman, a British businessman). The Americans were Spencer Stone, an American Air Force serviceman, Alek Skarlatos, an Oregon National Guardsman, and Anthony Sadler. Both Stone and Sadler are from Sacramento. Sadler is a Sac State kinesiology student. So in this ever smaller world, this makes me proud about one of our students.

And one more thing:
As a criminologist, I have long pondered what would be the best punishment for people who have been very, very bad. For example ISIS, which beheads 80-year old museum curators, rapes 12-year old girls and says that this brings them closer to Allah, or mass murderers such as James Holmes (Colorado) and Anders Breivik (Norway), or any other monster (Eichmann, Hitler, Mengele, etc.). 

Most people feel that such people should be executed, period. However, I feel that this is much too lenient. The problem with capital punishment is that it doesn’t teach you anything.

And by the way, this is the problem with any form of death. It’s too bad that dying cannot be a learning experience. Whether you die from a drug overdose, or you drown or die in a car crash because of carelessness and stupidity, or you get killed in a bar fight, this can never be a wake-up call to clean up your act, to be more careful next time.

For mass murderers and other evil doers, I feel that some form of torture would be more painful and more just. But I am not thinking of water boarding or any other physical torture used today or in the past. I am thinking of a much more cruel form of punishment: Condemn such monsters to having to listen to LECTURES for the rest of their lives.

For example, force them to listen to a professor - say, a professor of sociology - for many hours every single day, year after year, until they die of old age. This would force them to THINK about what they have done, till the end of their days.
©Tom Kando 2015
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