I’m all for accepting that the gap between intent and practice will inevitably be quite wide, and that in that gap, all sorts of devils can find room to dance. It’s just that those kinds of gaps also have thermals upon which angels fly.
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But I would also argue for a third possibility: that there is no longer any rhetorical or judicial space available to discuss compassion, redemption or reincorporation as virtues that a democracy can practice. For example: sex offenders are punished for the rest of their natural lives as if all of them were predators, when the reality is that there is a broad range of statutory crimes that are felonious even if both parties to the sexual act happily agreed to it. And yet, we have created a political atmosphere where tolerating broad injustices (including a high rate of homelessness and unemployment among registered sex offenders) is not worth the opprobrium that would be rained down on any policy maker who tried to reform this senseless and (I believe) unconstitutional policy.
PS. Merged quotations from two authors only because they are both recent, and I assigned the same categories.