Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington. Vol. 21, No. 8. 2nd July, 1958
Life is Grey
Life is Grey
Sir,—I would like to comment on Mr. Preston's emotional article: "Crime and You".
The writer says that the work of the law is not to adjust emotionally lawbreakers, but to protect the community from crime.
A system of punishments or sanctions, however, is one way to do this—social adjustment another.
Mr. Preston accuses the [unclear: criminologists] of emotionally adjusting [unclear: to] lawbreakers. He proves [unclear: nothing] but only assumes.
I do not think that [unclear: psychiatric] generally act emotionally.
Incidentally, Mr. Preston [unclear: apparently] does not know the [unclear: difference] between a psychiatrist and a [unclear: psychologist].
Logic has nothing to do [unclear: with] breaking the society's rules. [unclear: Has] Mr. Preston ever tried to [unclear: analyse] the psychological factors which [unclear: go] into the making of a criminal?
He categorically states three [unclear: reasons] why people commit [unclear: crimes]. He seems to think that life in [unclear: all] its intricacies can be divided [unclear: into] pigeonholes.
When he has grown up a bit, [unclear: he] may perhaps realise that life [unclear: is] neither black nor white, but [unclear: grey].
Mr. Preston does not [unclear: explain] what a moral code is based on [unclear: and] apparently thinks that morality [unclear: is] destroyed by atheism.
It is submitted that this is not necessarily so: to behave as a decent man or woman can be its own justification.
Hell and heaven are pretty poor motives for behaving decently.
Mr. Preston is a pessimist and seems to have lost faith in mankind.
His suggestion of ruling the country by fear reminds me of Russia.
Mr. Preston seems to be a great believer in statistical logic, apparently ignorant of the fact that statistics lie and never fully explain.
Has he ever thought of the possibility of educating the people as a means of reducing the rate of crime?
Mercy is not the policy towards first offenders. The idea is that they are not as dangerous as inveterate criminals, so that the punishment they deserve should be less.
Mr. Preston is a Christian and thinks that only Christianity can maintain a moral code.
Yet he advocates a system that is morally indefensible.
Slums and poor social conditions are more likely to cause crime than conducive surroundings, reasonable comfort and happiness.
What about improving the living conditions and teaching the people the art of living in the widest sense, Mr. Preston?
I can only throw out a few suggestions because time and space are limited.
Laotse said this: "The more prohibitions there are, the poorer people become. The more sharp weapons there are, the more prevailing chaos there is in the State. The more skills of technique, the more cunning things are produced. The greater the number of statutes, the greater the number of thieves and brigands."
Therefore the sage says: "I do nothing and the people are reformed of themselves. I love quietude and the people are righteous of themselves. I have no desires and the people are simple and honest by themselves."
—I am, etc.,
John C. Hendrikse.