My Thoughts

C. S. Lewis, most familiar perhaps to the newer vintage for the Chronicles of Narnia, wrote often on theology and ethics. In 1949 he published an essay in 20th Century: An Australian Philosophy Quarterly, entitled “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment,” in which he argued for what he called a more “traditional” retributive theory over one that is solely directed to the rehabilitation of criminals and/or the deterrence of potential criminals. As Lewis argued, whereas many have dismissed the concept of retribution as nothing more than a veil for vengeance and barbarism, it turns out upon analysis that it is the removal of retribution from our notion of criminal justice that truly has a dehumanizing effect.

It is only as deserved or undeserved that a sentence can be just or unjust. … There is no sense in talking about a “just deterrent” or a “just cure.” We demand of a deterrent not whether it is just but whether it will deter. We demand of a cure not whether it is just but whether it succeeds. Thus when we cease to consider what the criminal deserves and consider only what will cure him or deter others, we have tacitly removed him from the sphere of justice altogether; instead of a person, a subject of rights, we now have a mere object, a patient, a “case.”

Lewis further argued that a criminal, under such a humanitarian system of punishment will have his fate decided by psychotherapists or sociologists rather than by judges trained in jurisprudence. Instead of a definite sentence imposed by a judge, the criminal will receive an indefinite sentence that can only be lifted when the so-called experts consider him cured. Followed consistently, the humanitarian theory might impose a much more severe penalty upon a harmless but difficult-to-cure criminal than upon a murderer who is cured relatively quickly.     

The humanitarian theory, in extremis, leads us inevitably to today. One can begin to see why it is practical for a murderer to avoid contracting the virus inside be freed to contract it outside. Naturally, such parole must be conditioned upon mandatory masking: enforceable outside, unenforceable inside? It makes no sense but nonsense without a lick of commonsense makes no sense at all.

Who knows when or where this will end other than a total train wreck and most can see it coming a Texas country mile away? Anyone who travels the Southern route (I-10) will swear they can see the El Paso skyline from San Antonio, 551 miles distant. The highway is straight and flat, adorned with pterodactyl soldiers in silent salute to the occasional passerby; that, in my book, is a Texas country mile.

Just my thoughts for a Tuesday, for what it is worth.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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