09 Nov 04

Dear Nuala,

Does casting a man into prison compensate society for the wrongs he has done it?….. Such a man must be set free, if amends are to be made, and if he is freed there is none who would fail to make them, there is not a single man alive who would not prefer doing good to the necessity of living in chains.
Marquis de Sade (Source: Ernestine, A Swedish Tale 1788)

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Anonymous said...

I think that those who hold opinions like Nuala’s (and they seem to be in the majority at the moment in the States) generally have two defining traits: They find it hard not to view things in black and white – it is very easy to define yourself against ‘the other’, and so in order to avoid criticism of themselves and their peers, they label arbitrarily defined groups as ‘bad’ so that they can feel comfortably ‘good’. Secondly, when arguing against those that do not hold views similar to their own, provoking an emotional reaction is often seen as a victory. In this way there is no need to engage in the argument – which is convenient given that the lack of consideration is often coupled with a lack of knowledge on a given subject.

Jamie from Sheffield

Anonymous said...

I do believe someone who is accused of non-violent crimes and is a first offender should be given a second chance. I do believe that the Arizona correctional system leaves a lot to be desired. I can believe that the media made more out of this than perhaps was there.

Having said all that, in my personal experience, the drug users/dealers that I have had to interact with are 'innocent' and'didn't do anything wrong' and were 'in the wrong place at the wrong time'. In short, they don't know how to tell the truth and won't tell the truth. So you see why it's difficult for me to believe someone who was dealing drugs - allegedly - when he says it's all made up. On the other hand, many of the sources cited in the New Times' article I read were also drug users, so it makes it extremely difficult to suss out where the truth actually lies.

As to the great Marquis' words... yes, I am sure that anyone in prison would swear to only do good if they were just set free. What they do once they are set free, though, is the true test.

As I said in the linked comments, if you have truly reformed, Jon,that's great. I hope you have. Drugs addiction is a horrible thing, and ruins many lives every day. Dealing drugs to anyone, whether it's people who are addicted or not, only contributes to the problem.

Contrary to what people seem to think, I do not see the world in black and white. I will admit though, to possibly being a bit short-sighted when it comes to this particular subject.


Anonymous said...


My opinion of you has been changed from your last comment; I now do not group you with the people I was talking about – their reaction would have been far more stubborn. However, I do think that it is important to be able to discern between the types of people who are detrimental to society, and those who are not. Jon has been sentenced to nine years in prison for basically organising a big party. He is not a ruthless cocaine dealer who carries a gun and will sell drugs to anybody to maximise his profits. I have full faith that if Jon in his social life came across somebody who was being visibly and negatively affected by drug-use, he would endeavour to help them in any way he could – he certainly would not sell the person more drugs. I completely understand your position as drugs can be life-wrecking, but there are two sides to every coin. Alcohol is legal and destroys many lives – perhaps if we were able to have a transparent view of drug use and supply then we could help more people. Repressing those involved with drugs (in any way – I do not believe Jon has ever been a drug-dealer) in a ruthless and non-discriminatory fashion will only serve to harbour resentment against the establishment and therefore push drug use further underground for benign and malign individuals alike – therefore increasing society’s overall vulnerability. In terms of judging Jon because he has been branded as involved with drugs, I personally trust Jon’s own assessment of the situation over the legal system’s. Please look at how often people are convicted on the strength of testimony that is extracted only with the threat of long-term imprisonment, and also at how much money is arbitrarily requisitioned in unclear circumstances.