WoD – Infractions ≠ penalties

So, let’s say you’re driving along the road and you run a red light.  You don’t mean to – you may have been a bit distracted or your phone rang or whatever – but you did pretty much run it.  A policeman sees it, pulls you over, and gives you a ticket.  Your penalty is maybe a fine of $150 and a point against your insurance.  You’re pretty pissed.  Not fun, but life goes on.

Ok, this time let’s say an elderly man happened to be in the intersection.  And let’s even say that he probably should not have been there yet – the light had only just turned red.  But there he was anyway, and you hit him.  The same policeman stops you, but of course this time it is much more serious and severe.  It no longer is a little $150 fine and a point on your insurance.  You are likely charged with vehicular homicide and may even be arrested until the courts can figure it all out.  A trial, jury, quite serious fines, perhaps your license is revoked, big civil charges if not even criminal ones.  Yes, you may even be facing a jail sentence.  It is bad; very bad.

But hang on – the actual “crime” or wrongful act was exactly the same, wasn’t it?  You didn’t mean to run the red in either scenario.  It just happened and you didn’t really even mean it.  It is just that one time no one got hurt and the other time someone did.  [And by the way, you could come up with lots of scenarios where in one case nothing really bad happens and in the other something quite worse is a result.  The point of the WoD is pretty much the same.]

I’m not suggesting the penalty in the latter example is too austere or draconian.  But merely wondering, isn’t the “crime” itself actually the same?  All you did wrong in both instances is inadvertently run a red light.  Interestingly, in our society the punishment scales up (quite a bit in fact) not necessarily based on the bad deed itself, but rather on the end result of the bad deed.  (And by the way, if you happened to hit two people it is even worse than just hitting one.)

Should we base our punishment on the crime, or on the outcome?  So, does the punishment always fit the crime…?

Friday:

TSHEPEN (CHEHPehn)

To bother; to nag

You’re always tshepen me about fixing that roof.  I’ll get to it as soon as I can!

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