Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
Regarding “Peterson loses appeal” (Sunday, December 14, 2014) which describes the NFL’s decision to suspend Adrian Peterson until next spring as punishment for his disciplinary switching of his son that was deemed abusive, I am worried by the idea of one's employer adding additional punishment on a person after the law has already performed its function. Having a code of conduct is one thing, but routinely subjecting people to double jeopardy is not right and seems to threaten the capacity for atonement and rehabilitation. It is the state's prerogative, not the private employers' prerogative to enforce the law and punish offenders. If employers want to fire, fine or suspend employees because of their legal troubles then go ahead - although such action based solely on that reason might be legally questionable as well. But we should not allow employers to assume the prerogatives of the state. I am reminded of other high profile athletes similarly subjected to double punishment: baseball’s Pete Rose over his gambling; football’s Michael Vick over his dog fighting. The list of celebrities who have run-ins with the law is long - athletes, actors, singers, politicians. If we habitually allow people’s careers and lives to be taken away and destroyed in outrage at their transgressions how can we accurately measure the benefit to society and avoid being abusive ourselves in our zeal to express our outrage? In many of these instances the benefit seems commercial above all else. Offenders have to be treated harshly, ostracized and expelled - and quickly - in order to protect sponsorship and advertising revenue: the corporation must plug those revenue leaks and protect itself from potential lawsuits that might further threaten revenue. There is always an inescapable element of pure theatrics.
Published on Thursday, January 1, 2015 as “Double punishment is not right.”
I figure that double punishment is an attempt to utterly destroy a person. If you want to utterly destroy them then why not just execute them to begin with? If the object of punishment is to correct an offender’s behavior I don’t see much of that happening, or much chance of that happening simply by subjecting the offender to unending punishment. The treatment of high-profile offenders presents us with case studies in the philosophy of government by law, enforcement of law, the definition of crime, the definition of justice, the limits of law and government to achieve justice, and the nature and function of rehabilitation.