Thursday 4 April 2013

Pileus post-hiatus

My guest blogging stint at Pileus was tragically interrupted by the Christchurch earthquakes in February 2011. I've resumed that guest spot.

I posted a bit yesterday on libertarian migration, a frequent theme here.

Today I wondered there whether Saudi justice might not be the preferred choice for many in the American carceral state. I'm seeing a lot of outrage on Twitter about the Saudis surgically severing a man's spinal cord so he'll be paralysed from the waist down; he'd stabbed another man in the back, paralysing him. Imagine you're a middle-aged regular guy entrapped by the DEA into selling your left over prescription pain meds to a new friend who you thought was in severe chronic pain. Now you're facing 25 years in prison. You've two young daughter who you won't really get to see again until you're in your 70s. Wouldn't you prefer the rest of your life in a wheelchair, on the outside, to what the Americans are going to give you instead? The carceral state is a terrible, terrible thing. The violence of the system should be made obvious.

I'm queueing up a post there revising some of my Kiwi-enthusiasm in light of the post-quake Christchurch experience. New Zealand's comparative advantage, I'd thought, had been in being the Outside of the Asylum. I'm not sure that Christchurch is outside the asylum. And other parts of New Zealand are definitely sliding the wrong way. I'm still pretty pro-NZ. But the only way I can be as enthusiastic as I once was is by remembering that lots of other places are getting stupider faster than we are.


  1. The Saudi approach reminds me of Heinlein's The Number of Beast, where the State purposely runs over a man on the road and leaves him to suffer a prescribed length of time, just as he had done to someone else in an accident.

  2. In your hypothetical situation, surely the man who has sold spare pain meds, in getting restorative justice, would have someone unethically sell spare pain meds to him. Which would clearly be much preferable to receiving 25 years in prison.

    To put it another way, the current sentences in the US for some crimes are out of all proportion to the harm done.