A Puzzlement

this closeIf a famous person and a not-famous person commit the same wrong, should the punishment be different for the famous person, as in not as severe, because the consequences in general will be worse for them? Hit to their career, bad publicity, etc. Shouldn’t the consequences be relative? If I am famous, the consequences are greater because I am famous. They are less if I am not, because I have less out there to be impacted. I just had a discussion/argument with someone who seems to think that the famous should receive less punishment from the law because the other consequences will be greater than for the not-famous person. Shouldn’t we all be treated the same? No, because we are not the same. Our circumstances are different. I am having trouble wrapping my head around this attitude, because consequences are just that, consequences. If yours are greater than mine, it’s because you had more to lose in the first place. Am I making sense at all? If you’re famous, you have more to lose, and losing some of it is part of the consequences of your action. You should not be treated differently because of it, should you? This is one of those arguments that just boggle my mind. If one murderer is old and debilitated, they should receive a lighter punishment because they will suffer more in prison than someone who is young and healthy. Well, maybe they should have thought of that before they did whatever it was that got them sent to prison in the first place. Right?

This came about because of a blog post about Oscar Pistorius, which I kind of didn’t understand the point that was trying to be made, so asked someone their opinion of the issue. It is, however, a really good blog.

THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE

Would you cover for a friend who did something wrong? By covering for that person, allowing him/her to avoid the consequences of their actions, doesn’t that kind of make them think that they can avoid the consequences of more serious actions? Depending on the severity of whatever they did, I might not pick up the phone and turn them in, but if asked outright, would I lie for them?

I apply this principle to my children. I will love them no matter what, but if they do something wrong, I will not lie for them, and may possibly turn them in, because they need to learn that there are consequences, and if you do something wrong, you will suffer those consequences. Shouldn’t that apply to everyone, regardless of their station in life? Rich, poor, famous, unknown. If you have more to lose isn’t the problem of anyone but the person who committed the act. Or it shouldn’t be, I think. I’m really interested to hear what other people think about this issue, because I am truly stunned by the opinion of the person I discussed this with.

whatKind of in the same frame, I think, someone said to me a while back that if the prisoners at Guantanamo want to go on a hunger strike, then they should just die from it. Because just the fact that they are there means they are guilty. This person also thinks that if you haven’t got anything to hide, it’s okay for the government to spy on you, and that most of the poor are just abusing the system, and are not really in need. This comes of listening to too much Doctor Laura, I think, although I’ve never listened to her myself, so can’t really say that this is the kind of thing she spouts. I just know this person listens to her all the time. Or did, anyway.

Is it just me? Am I the one with the backward way of looking at things? Is it true that people are poor and needy because they are just lazy, worthless gits? Are the rich and famous entitled to more and better purely because they are rich and famous, regardless of why or how they got to be those things? I wish I’d just stayed in bed today, actually.

9 thoughts on “A Puzzlement

  1. I agree with you. Famous people should think twice about the consequences before intentionaly doing something wrong and have to suffer the results of their actions. You can’t choose to have only the good side of the medal. With great power come great responsabilities. It’s only fair that they have to face the same punishment than less famous people.

    I raise my daughter the same way : you do something wrong, you are punished (a fair punishment of course), then you are forgiven.

    I don’t like the idea to be watched and spied by my government, even if I have nothing to hide. It’s called intimacy.

    Prisons are full of guilty and innocent people. You can’t assume someone is guilty without seeing the evidences and knowing the context. That’s the reason why I’m against death penalty. Once it’s done, you can’t go back.

    (sorry for the spelling and the grammar mistakes ;))

    Hoping to be helpful

    Nightchild

  2. Thank you for reading the blog. I fully understand why your friend would think famous people should receive less harsher treatment than the rest of us. I think it comes from a really good place, you need only look at the consequences of ‘wrongdoing’ by Tiger Woods, the loss in financial terms is far beyond what us ordinary folks can ever dream of making. But the Law serves not only as punishment for wrongdoing but also as a deterrent to others. Besides being seen to be fair, the law must also provide for a setting where the offender can be rehabilitated. Fairness is unfortunately viewed by society as what is applied to me must apply to the next person. Where rehabilitation and fairness are seen to be applied unequally, society suffers. Consequences on the other hand are almost governed by ‘natural’ laws. Famous people are made famous by appealing to something in society, when they compromise that ‘something’ by doing wrong, natural laws dictate that they lose their appeal, and hence their sponsorships and finances. Famous people and even ordinary folks unfortunately cannot the extent to which they are affected by the consequences of their action.

    Compassion, like forgiving an elderly person can only apply if remorse is shown, which is most probably the case in bringing up kids, a kid who shows understanding of where they went wrong will most probably receive less harsh punishment from a parent. I hope I don’t sound all lawyerly and vague because I’m the furthest thing from a lawyer.

  3. Nightchild. No need to apologize for anything. I frequently mess up the grammar and especially the punctuation. I’m not quite as lame at spelling, but I do have to google words sometimes, cause they just will not look right, no matter how I spell them. Anyway, pleased to get someone else’s opinion on these things. Sometimes I am floored by the way people think. Or their naivety (had to google this one). Or their just plain ignorance on things that matter. I completely agree about the death penalty, too. Once it’s done, you cannot undo it. I’m sure a lot of innocent people have been executed, only to be exonerated too late. Vindictiveness is not a good thing, and executing people just seems to be vindictive behaviour to me. Thanks so much for commenting.

  4. Truth. “Fairness is unfortunately viewed by society as what is applied to me must apply to the next person” .Are you saying that treating people equally even in punishments is NOT a good thing? I understand mitigating circumstances, but being rich or famous is not one, in my opinion. I make allowances for you because you are famous? Does not seem right to me. I agree that remorse matters, but that’s kind of a different issue. Care to clarify?

  5. Hi, I took a while to come back here, weekend and all. Clarity: I think I didn’t come out clearly to say I wrote the statement on fairness as part of the response to your friend’s thinking on the treatment of famous people. I said I understood why your friend would think the rich and famous deserve some sort of a break from the harshness of the law because of the consequences that they suffer naturally due to their fame, ‘unfortunately’ for the rich and famous, the rest of us still demand fairness, the law applying equally to us all. I hope I didn’t confuse the issue further.

    Of course the law applying equally to all is a good thing. But there is such a thing as mitigating circumstances making things easier for the rich. I’ll give you an example. We had a physically huge rugby(like football) player convicted of culpable homicide. The sentence for that here can be as little as a suspended jail sentence. The story in short: A traffic cop stops this player at midnight and discovers he’s driving under the influence. The traffic cop and his buddies come up with a scheme to extort money from the player, driving him to the bank to withdraw money. On the way there, the player realizes he’s being ‘robbed’ and decides to fight back, goes into a rage and in the physical fight that follows he kills the cop.

    The traffic cop’s buddies run off because they are afraid of being fingered as part of the scheme. The court finds the player guilty of culpable homicide. Basically he could walk or do five years or less. The player offers the cop’s family about a 100 000 US Dollars settlement, close to a million Rands in our currency. Magistrate, Prosecution, Lawyers and family agrees and he walks.

    Now, an ordinary person would not have had that kind of money and he would most probably have gone straight to jail. The cop’s wife says she took the money because she’s got five kids to raise without he husband. I found it sickening but cold reason says it was a logical and fair thing to do…. Fair, I’m not too sure but the fact that he was rich meant the law bent to his will, almost.

  6. ” ‘unfortunately’ for the rich and famous, the rest of us still demand fairness, the law applying equally to us all” Yes, this clears it up. Thanks. I wouldn’t call paying someone off ‘mitigating circumstances’, I would call it buying someone off. I googled ‘mitigating circumstances’ to make sure I’m not getting this wrong. “In criminal law, conditions or happenings which do not excuse or justify criminal conduct, but are considered out of mercy or fairness in deciding the degree of the offense the prosecutor charges or influencing reduction of the penalty upon conviction.” The example they gave was someone killing his father after years of beatings and other abuse. He might get a lighter punishment than someone who committed the same act to get an inheritance sooner, for example. Buying someone off is a whole ‘nother issue. I think the rugby player should be forced to pay money to the family of his victim, but that should not be a reason for a lessening of his sentence. It should be a part of the punishment that goes along with the prison term. Over here, even is someone (like OJ for instance) is not found guilty in a regular court, he can still be taken to court and forced to pay monetary damages. I forget the legal term, of course. Where are the words when I need them?

  7. I think the term you are looking for is ‘wrongful death’ which is what was used to get OJ in a civil court. I get your point about ‘buying someone off’, which is why I found the whole thing sickening. Pity our legal system makes it very difficult for the poor to sue for ‘wrongful death’ because then the family could have rejected being bought off and sued the player for an even larger amount. I’m not the biggest fan of very litigious society but I think there are exceptions.

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