Friday, November 10, 2006

An Oldie but a Goodie

The issue of criminals and their published memoirs is certainly nothing new, but the British government has come up with a new proposal to stop ex-convicts from being able to profit from published works about their crimes.

The operative word here being "profit", the current proposal doesn't seem to restrict these criminals from getting their life experiences published, just that they can't get any kind of profit from them.

Good thing Martha Stewart is American.

By virtue of the fact that this issue is ancient, you won't see this being debated anymore (certainly not in the last few tournaments). This issue is a good one for beginners to train on because it requires more logical thinking and argumentation rather than knowledge on technical matter (although being able to cite a few examples always helps).

For example, why is it so wrong for criminals to profit from publishing their criminal acts? By serving their sentences, they've already paid their debt to society. Why should additional, across-the-board, penalties be accorded to them after the fact?

On the other hand, as the article says, criminals being able to profit from their works goes against the very principles of natural justice, and justice isn't just measured by how much time is served in prison.

One can even argue that the proposal is trying to have its cake and eat it too - they recognize the value of these published memoirs (after all, they're not disallowing it) but they don't recognize the value of compensation for these criminals' experiences. What makes these two values so mutually exclusive? And wouldn't that be self-defeating since without any form of monetary compensation, criminals won't be inclined to share their life stories and thus destroying the value that they so want to protect?

Really good issue. People should start discussing this again.

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