The question of vice

Over the past weeks the press in the United States—and by extension the public—has been insatiable in its coverage of vice. Several notorious court cases have made vivid descriptions of violence and abuse virtually inescapable if one looks at television, listens to the radio, or reads a newspaper or newsmagazine. (It makes one ever more grateful that The Christian Science Monitor and Monitor Radio, the broadcast service of The Christian Science Monitor, are havens of sanity.)

One element of great concern that deserves everyone's considered thought is the argument that individuals cannot be held responsible for their actions. Psychiatric theories are being used in courts to claim that the perpetrators of heinous crimes are actually victims that deserve our sympathy. Most of the public is not taken in. Yet when these efforts are an attempt to excuse guilt and avoid the inevitable punishment sin brings upon itself, they are dangerous. They do not produce a more humane society, but tend to build a tolerance for crime, which would lead to a far worse state of affairs than now exists. Society is liable to conclude that it is not possible to discern between right and wrong. And the influence of all this on youth and on many others is serious.

February 21, 1994

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