Saturday, April 10, 2004

This House Believes that Law Breakers Should Not Be Punished

That was what I had to sit through this morning, beside a colleague who probably spent the night out drinking and forgot to change his clothes. There is nothing I like better than to smell the smell of stale alcohol on someone's clothes. So forget politeness, I sat behind for finals.

I realise that I am getting the hang of this whole debate thing slowly. I actually managed to think of a case set up for this motion, plus I actually found flaws in logic, something I've been finding hard to do, since I was like 2? Yay, you learn something new everyday.

Coincidentally, the Straits Times had 2 articles to do with this motion. Rehabilitation vs. Retribution. Which do we put more weightage on. Rehabilitation includes counselling and wearing a neon green vest and picking up rubbish in full view of the rest of Singapore. Retribution means, they get sentenced and punished according to the severity of their crime.

My brother had this theory. When he was a prefect in school, detention duty meant spending an hour yelling at the detainees and basically scaring the beejeezus out of them. But he always said, it never worked for the hardened rule breakers, but it worked for those who were on the border line- those who were considering a life of crime. They would step away from the edge, away from the bright lights of the many shoplifted lava lamps, having been gently coaxed by the excessive yelling and the chair throwing of the power hungry prefects.

The point is rehabilitation will work with those who are yet to be hardened criminals. But even then, there has to be some sort of retribution meted out. The current buzz in the education community is the 26 year old teacher who was getting far too friendly with one of his students. 16 times at that. Now, how do you rehabilitate this sort of guy? How will the family of the get closure if he's counselled and then set free to prey on other teenage girls? I mean, Hello, sending her flowers and jewellery? He knew what he was doing.

On the other hand, one does wonder about the law that protects those who are underaged-statutory rape. Is there no culpability on the underaged girl at all? Should she get away scot-free? Some say that the memory of the experience is punishment enough. But is that true for all? I know of a friend who's neighbour- up for scholarship and a total nice guy- met someone on the web and started to get to know this girl. This girl said she was 18 and he believed her. At the end of it all, they had sex and she ended up reporting him to the police. He was arrested because she was 15 and he had committed statutory rape unknowingly. His scholarship got revoked and his mother who was a high powered, getting to the top, civil servant refused to have anything to do with him. My friend's aunt had to bail him out. There are girls out there, who don't need the law's protection. In fact, other people need to be protected from them. Of course, the holier than thou people would say that, well, that guy shouldn't have had sex with her in the first place because it was wrong and so it's his fault. But I mean, GET REAL! It's going to happen whether they like it or not. People have sex. We just need to make sure that the right people are protected and I think the statutory rape law sometimes protects the wrong party.

No doubt, the majority are innocent. But Daniel did make a good point about it- it should come under the umbrella of rape, if the underaged was unwilling.I guess the problem is how does one know if the underaged was willing? And that's where it gets iffy. So we err on the side of caution and sometimes we destroy unknowing people and allow the real menaces back into society.

That's a depressing thought. But like any debate, one can prep and look at the case from every angle, examining alternate set ups, but there will still be flaws and there will still be loopholes. All you need will be people smart enough to spot them and take full advantage of it. Only in reality, people get hurt and it's no longer called a point of information.

1 Feb 2004

Ondine tossed this thought in at 09:57

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