It’s All the Rage

It’s All the Rage
Wendy Kaminer

There is an ineluctable political drift toward harsher criminal laws in a democracy. What politician doesn’t want to get “tough on crime”? Alas, the rhetoric doesn’t always fit reality, as Wendy Kaminer argues in this attempt to inject a bit of clarity into the debate. At the core of her argument is the contradiction between different models of imagining the modern self and its relation to the state. By what set of  standards – between those privileging individual or social values – do we judge and punish crime? And if we opt for an individual-oriented standard, how do we deal with the fact that, individually, we are so poorly equipped to deal with such questions? Or does it matter? Isn’t crime and punishment in the twenty-first century just a form of therapy and entertainment? We don’t do unto others as we would have done unto ourselves because the care of the self is non-transferable. Our only concern is for safety and revenge.