Tuesday, April 18, 2006

John Kerry Plays God

Vengeance is mine, sayeth John Kerry. He spoke to the Boston Herald on a singularly odious child molester.

His throw-away-the-key attitude is understandable in this case, but wrong and a path to all manner of arch-conservative self-righteous abuse of convicted criminals. You can almost hear Kerry's grandparents speaking, or George Bush's.

In the case of Matthew Mancuso, Kerry wants any counseling and rehabilitation to stop immediately. It is almost certain that this monster will spend the rest of his life in prison -- he has a 35 to 70-year child-rape sentence waiting after his federal child-pornography one ends in 2017.

Kerry does not think it enough that "he should never see the light of day." He has demanded in a series of letters to the Federal Bureau of Prisons that he be removed from an inmate sex-offender program.

That is the image from Dante's inferno or an evangelical Christian's hell. There is eternal torture, replete with demons piling it on the suffering.

I doubt that anyone short of a NAMBLA member could find anything nice to say about a man who basically bought a five-year-old girl from a Russian orphanage to groom her as his child bride. Yet, Kerry's petulant fit publicizes a right-wing emotional spasm unbefitting a U.S. senator, particularly one who pretends to represent progressive goals.

A lot of years ago when South Carolina brought in William D. Leeke to reform its penal system, he set me straight on the attitude to the convicted. "People are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment."

Kerry is not alone among nominal liberals who don't get that. They would pile it on perverts, pimps and perpetrators of all sorts. It is neither a deterrent nor does it spit out productive members of society on the other end. It only makes the self-righteous feel more so.

More prisons, more prisoners, longer sentences, mandatory minimum jail time...none of it works alone or together. As our crime rates remain high, as of 2002, we stand with the worst despotic regimes and third-world nations in prisoners, with over 2 million Americans in jail.

Our judicial and penal systems are not doing the job. Locking away the asocial and antisocial to fraternize is inefficient, counterproductive, and illogical to the point of stupidity.

Prisons are very expensive, at the level of the priciest universities in the nation. The reform we need on the inside is vast and complex. Real rehabilitation with extensive counseling and modeling works where Kerry's vengeance does not. It would also require an extra-prison economy that provides jobs for those who have been punished already. More important, it would mean that the public needs to stop the crap about demons stabbing the incarcerated, as though they deserve perpetual anguish.

Mancuso is a lost cause in many ways. However, Kerry's fixation on his case is one indication of how deeply so many of us feel the need to keep finding new ways to punish those already caught, convicted, sentenced and serving time.

Kerry and many of us need to transcend this understandable but base and wrongheaded emotion. What do we treasure more, vengeance or a safe society?

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Aaron said...

Last time I checked, getting the hell out of Iraq was a "Progressive goal," as was universal healthcare and the right for woman to choose. Kerry doesn't have to "pretend" to be progressive, he is progressive. He happens to favor a harsher penalty for this guy than some people would prefer, but that does not erase a lifetime of fighting for liberal/progressive causes.

massmarrier said...

There are acutally quite a few Senators who score up with Kerry on such cards as the ADA voting lists. Some are also savvy on prison reform and other crime and penal issues.

The big point here is in the post. We can perk right along for the most part, but many of us have blind spots. This is certainly one of his. He is a lesson for us both in where he's right and where he's wrong. We do have to remember that he's in a position of great power and influence.

iilana said...

I agree with Aaron: Senator Kerry is progressive and his Senate votes attest to that. He's got a 100% rating on the environment and on civil rights.

However, John Kerry is also a former prosecutor and the senator knows there are loopholes in the criminal justice system. He's seen them firsthand and he does not believe that the rights of offenders should be allowed to eclipse the rights of victims or create the potential for future victims. He was a tough prosecutor and I think Senator Kerry is right to be tough on this issue involving therapy for child molesters. They should not be able to use therapy as a "get out of jail free" card, especially when most experts agree that these offenders can not be rehabilitated.

Senator Kerry is always at the forefront of fighting for CHILDREN'S RIGHTS. He's introduced legislation to provide health care for all of our nation's 11 million uninsured children. His stance with the victims of child molestation is just another example of the senator fighting to protect our children.
I completely agree with Senator Kerry on this one.

Erica said...

Might have been nice to include a link to the article in question. I'd rather read the thing for myself than have someone filter it for me, more than alittle snarkily I might add.

As for Kerry's liberal credentials, two thoughts:

1. How long have you lived in Massachusetts? Why would anything about your long-standing junior Senator surprise you? Hence, acting as if this is all a big surprise to you would seem to be somewhat disingenuous.

2. How liberal Sen. Kerry would seem to you depends mightily on how far to the left you're viewing him. I, for instance, live in a very Red County in a purple state. If a liberal is looking at me, I'm gonna look like a moderate. If an ultra conservative is looking at me, I'm going to look like a Communist.

The poor Senator gets accused of being both too liberal and too conservative. Maybe that makes him a moderate as well.

massmarrier said...

About the link, sorry, I thought I had. That is my norm. However, you have my permission to go to the Herald site on your own.

By the bye, the Herald links disappear behind a paid wall within a week. Meawhile, the one in question is here.

As for Kerry, he makes a big, big deal about his positions, both in his Senate campaigns and his POTUS one. He's the one demanding examination. When you take a look, he's moderate only on the average. He doesn't bother on a lot of issues. That's not right.

Erica said...

Another thing that isn't right is someone who professes to being a Progressive using a Right Wing rag as their news sourch. It's amazing how the right and the left can manage to agree as long as the topic is Kerry.

massmarrier said...

I assume by "sourch" that you mean the local tabloid, the Boston Herald. Well, the Senator does not shy away from also speaking with its political reporters and targeting its audience. Likewise, we do not shy away from a variety of news sources, particularly those that interview our local politicians.

A difference is that the Herald and Kerry agree on this prisoner program. I rather suspect that is why he spoke with the paper, which began the coverage of the program.