Altruism Takes Another Life

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Over at Power Line is a sickening example of the deadliness of the altruistic premise that government exists to "rehabilitate" criminals:

“Mercy” means an unearned forgiveness. -- Leonard Peikoff (Image via Pixabay.)
[A]fter just two-and-half years in juvenile detention, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Doris Downs set [Jayden] Myrick free. She put him on probation and placed him in a special program whose director claimed could keep tabs on Myrick and reform him.

Now, Myrick, age 17, is accused of shooting and killing a 34 year-old Washington, D.C. man during the course of another armed robbery, as the man was waiting for an Uber ride after leaving a wedding reception in Atlanta. Christian Broder is survived by his wife and a 9-month-old daughter. He would be alive today if Judge Downs hadn't stupidly subscribed to the tenets of those pushing sentencing reform.

The judge explained that Myrick "has been in prison now for two and a half years and I don't think it helped him much, I haven't noticed a whole lot a change." Lost on the judge, as on many sentencing reform advocates, was the fact that the primary purpose of putting Myrick away was to protect society from his menace, not to help him. [bold added]
Or, as Ayn Rand once put it, "The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man's rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence."

Paul Mirengoff notes this as a case for minimum sentencing laws. I'm inclined to agree. It's too bad that this kind of thinking is so common today as to preclude investigation and some kind of remedy. This is something for which this judge deserves removal from office at the very least. And if the above isn't enough to convince you, do read further to see just how negligent this judge was, demented as she is by the kill-switch of altruism.

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

This is an example of the putrid stew that gov't makes when they exceed their brief of protecting individual rights.

In the United States, the Mandatory Minimum Mania began as an adjunct of the War on Drugs - a prime example of the power of government used to violate individual rights - with the passage of the Boggs Act in 1951. Like the Comstock Act in in the late 19th century - yet another example of gov't overreach in the name of 'morality' - the Boggs Act prompted many State legislatures to follow suit.

In the Reagan Drug War, this idiocy reached its nadir with a girlfriend of a drug dealer being given a 20 year fixed sentence for taking a written message over the phone and handing it to her boyfriend. She had no other material participation in the 'criminal enterprise'. Even the WSJ decried this as insane.

It was manifest perversions of 'justice' such as this, that sparked the backlash against mandatory sentencing, and rightfully so. And if this backlash now conflates victimless 'crimes' with real crimes; that is, rights' violating crimes as in the story you cite, then the Drug Warriors, Law and Order Conservatives, and others of that ilk have only themselves to blame. When we are told that 'drug trafficking is worse than murder' (Newt Gingrisch, William Bennet, etal.) and when several States have more severe penalties for drug possession than for murder - Wisconsin comes to mind - then such moral confusion is bound to result in the atrocity of justice you retail above.

There should be mandatory minimums for violating individual rights - including when gov't officials do so. For the rest of the moralizing goon squad? "Get the hell out of our lives."

c andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


Ah. Many thanks for this much-needed historical perspective.

Sadly, it does not come as a surprise to me that some folly from our current version of Prohibition would underlie the one under discussion.


John Shepard said...

A bit more from Ayn Rand on crime, punishment, and so-called reform (reformatted for presentation here; it's all in one of several paragraphs in her letter to Hospers):

"[Y]ou ask me what is the punishment deserved by criminal actions. This is a technical, legal issue, which has to be guided by moral principles, but their application to specific cases is a special field of study. I can only indicate in a general way what principles should be the base of legal justice in determining punishments.

The law should:

a. correct the consequences of the crime in regard to the victim, whenever possible (such as recovering stolen property and returning it to the owner);

b. impose restraints on the criminal, such as a jail sentence, not in order to reform him, but in order to make him bear the painful consequences of his action (or their equivalent) which he inflicted on his victims;

c. make the punishment proportionate to the crime in the full context of all the legally punishable crimes."

— Ayn Rand, Letter to John Hospers (April 29, 1961); The Letters of Ayn Rand

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks for finding this, John.

John Shepard said...

You're very welcome, Gus.

If you have access to The Letters of Ayn Rand, I highly recommend the section at least of the letter from which I quoted (reformatted), from Ayn Rand to John Hospers. It's a very long letter with eight sections, numbered (1, 2, 3, etc.). The section in which she discusses this issue is #7 (with 7 paragraphs).

Curious, I just did a Google search for a quote from that portion and found that Grames, at the forum Objectivism Online Forum, posted that section (#7) of that letter in 2011 to a thread titled: "What would be Ayn Rand's position on Psychiatry?" The later 2/3rds of that section of her letter deals specifically with a question from Hospers: "I find it difficult to say whether a man who has committed, e.g. armed robbery, deserves one year in jail, five years, ten years, or psychiatric therapy to keep him from repeating his offense."

(I do no know why it's so, but from my computer his post is broken up a bit. I can tell where the 7 paragraphs begin and end, but it looks like Grames use style changes (bold, italic, in accord with the letter in the book) caused new lines for each such change in style (bold, italic)). Might not look like that for you; I'm using an old Mac and an old OS.