What with the news lately about Georgia Williams and the Crimewatch bloke ranting on about rape I’ve been trying to get my thoughts straight on the idea of the “level” of “badness” of a crime ….
One of the “complexities” of faith I struggled with in the past was the idea that all sin is considered equal in the eyes of God. I could never accept the idea that to God shoplifting (just an example, could be speeding or whatever) was equally as sinful as murder. I figured that if God went with that idea then he was being a “bit of a git” to us ….
I believe in gradation (I think that’s a real word) of crimes. I recall many years ago reading Dante’s Inferno which puts forward the idea that there are levels of hell getting ever “worse” according to the enormity of the resident’s “sins”. But this is gradation of punishment rather than gradation of an actual crime.
As for gradation of a crime Nick Ross has some valid points (in my opinion) regarding the “level” of crime regarding rape. For example a rape at knifepoint of a completely innocent stranger should surely be accorded a greater level of punishment than a rape between 2 drunken undergraduates who went a bit too far in fresher’s week and she tried to push him off just before he penetrated her …. Don’t get me wrong it’s all rape BUT the first example should surely be punished more?
However, when it comes to murder of a single person I don’t necessarily agree. Murder of a child is a dreadful event for sure, but murder of ANYONE should be considered equally dreadful, regardless of age, gender and so on in my opinion. Disregard the actual killing aspect for a second and consider what is actually happening a life is being “taken”, simple as that, the taking of life is the actual sin. Gender, age, race and so on should not come into it. So there should be a basic punishment for “taking a life” PLUS specific “add-on” punishment for extra lifes. In the case of Lee Rigby we should focus primarily on what has actually happened, eg a life has been taken. The rest of the story has blown up in the media and in a way the media has actually given the murderer exactly what he and his “cause” wanted: notoriety, publicity, exposure and so on.
I think the vox populi (or at least the media) is essentially “guilty” of focusing on the superficial aspects of crimes, focusing on sentimentalisation, sensationalism and whatever sells newspapers. We should focus more carefully on exactly what has actually happened when a crime has been committed and not get wrapped up in the media’s “window dressing”.