The therapeutic/society’s fault basis upon which liberal Catholics—and all liberals for that matter—seek to redress crime, has proven to be a huge failure as the basis for criminal reformation, as our evaluation of reentry programs page indicates, and as this trenchant article from the Liberty Law website shows.
“In the year of my birth, which now seems to me a very long time ago, C. S. Lewis wrote a short and incisive essay entitled The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment. In this essay, Lewis drew attention to the potential for tyranny of this seemingly humane theory, according to which people were to be treated not according to their deserts, but according to what would make them ‘better’ on whatever scale of goodness was adopted by the therapists, who of course would also decide whether or not the wrongdoers were ‘cured.’
“The horrors that Lewis foresaw as following from the humanitarian theory of punishment were those of cruelty and oppression disguised as benevolence. What he did not foresee was irresponsible and self-indulgent leniency disguised as benevolence. Under this new dispensation, it was not those who had been wronged who would exercise mercy, but those at several removes from the wronged, and who themselves would never suffer the practical consequences of its exercise, if any such there were. They would enjoy the psychological rewards of leniency without experiencing the material effects of recidivism.
“It is hardly any secret that no one these days enjoys a reputation for generosity of spirit (at least among intellectuals) by advocating more severe penalties for wrongdoers; or that an easy way to secure a reputation for broad understanding is to forgive everything. Pardonner tout, c’est tout comprendre. The pressure on those who want to bask in the esteem of all right-thinking people to forgive those who have done wrong to others is therefore considerable. C. S. Lewis, I need hardly add, lived at a time when psychotherapy was a long, arduous and even never-ending process; he did not live to see the advent and triumph of the so-called brief intervention that could allegedly cure the mad, the bad and the sad in a few sessions.
“In France there is currently a court case that glaringly exposes the inhumanity of the therapeutic approach to life, at least when it is carried beyond its proper sphere. In November, 2011, the charred body of a young girl called Agnès Marin, nearly 14 years of age, was found in some woods near the village of Chambon-sur-Lignon, previously famed because its inhabitants had saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish children during the war.
“The girl had been tortured, raped and murdered by a boy known for the moment as Matthieu M. who was then aged 17. The murderer and his victim had attended the same boarding school in Cambon-sur-Lignon, an establishment for somewhat disturbed adolescents.
“But Matthieu M. was more than somewhat disturbed. Fifteen months before the murder, he had held up a girl called Salomé F. with a knife, tied her to a tree and raped her. He was already by then a smoker of cannabis and an aficionado of violent pornography.
“He spent four months on remand, during the course of which he was examined by two psychiatrists who decided that it was possible to reintegrate him into society. A judge accepted this opinion and sent him to the boarding school in Chambon-sur-Lignon, supposedly under some kind of official supervision.
“Since the commission of the crime he has been re-examined by (different) psychiatrists. The change in psychiatric opinion would be comic if the case had not been so tragic. According to Dr Aiguesvives, one of the first two experts to examine Matthieu M., was ‘sincerely and authentically self-critical.’ Dr Aiguesvives said that he committed his first rape because of an ‘induced and transitory pathology,’ a kind of temporary madness, that he had no permanent perversity, and that he was therefore not dangerous. The two psychiatrists who examined him after the murder, by contrast, found that he ‘describes his desire to annihilate and destroy his victims, of whom he speaks as if they were objects. The perverse personality traits of this young man are therefore manifest and very disquieting as far as the prognosis is concerned.’”