Category Archives: institutionalised sentimentality

The long march of sentimentality

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Sudesh Amman

The absurdity of British criminal-justice policy over several decades at the behest of penological liberals

The British criminal-justice system, writes Dalrymple, is one of

elaborate and ceremonious frivolity.

The frivolity

is serious in its effects, not only for its immediate consequences on Britain’s crime rate but also because it undermines the legitimacy of the State, whose first and inescapable duty is to maintain enough order to secure the safety of citizens as they go about their lawful business.

Remission of prison sentences is automatic,

turning all judges into liars. When a judge says, ‘I sentence you to three years’ imprisonment,’ what he means is: ‘I sentence you to 18 months’ imprisonment.’

Appalling as terrorist violence is, the average person in Britain is many times more likely to be the victim of violent common crime than of terrorism, so that Boris Johnson’s announcement that the laws governing the sentencing of terrorists will be made more severe,

by fixing attention on what remains an uncommon problem and ignoring a far more prevalent one, may be doing a disservice.

Dalrymple says that good sense on criminal justice in Britain

will be difficult to put into practice, for a long march of sentimentality has occurred through the minds of the intelligentsia and élites in general. The father of the last man to be murdered by a terrorist recently released from prison said that he hoped his son’s death would not be used as an argument for more drastic sentencing of terrorists.

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Does one laugh or cry?

Brutal institutionalised sentimentality

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 09.12.52Dalrymple points out that

sentimentality and hardness of heart are two sides of the same coin.

Ersatz feeling and indifference

Dalrymple explains how when sentimentality

Hollywoodian ersatz feeling elevated over appreciation of reality, masking utter indifference

Hollywoodian ersatz feeling elevated over appreciation of reality, masking utter indifference

is made the basis of policy, its denial of reality and its elevation of ersatz feeling over appreciation of reality leads straight to bureaucratic indifference.

The ideology of assistance allocated by need irrespective of desert

This orthodoxy, writes Dalrymple, is a sentimental one that

empties life of meaning and is a pretext for hard-heartedness of pharaonic proportions.

The elimination of desert as a criterion of allocation of resources

Ani's heart weighed against a feather: judgment of the dead in the presence of Osiris, papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Ani. From Thebes, 19th Dynasty, c. 1275 BC

Ani’s heart weighed against a feather: judgment of the dead in the presence of Osiris, papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Ani. From Thebes, 19th Dynasty, c. 1275 BC. British Museum

destroys both compassion and empathy. Need can be measured by checklist, but the assessment of desert cannot. It requires judgment, moral and practical.

The demand for no compassion at all

To regard everyone as equally in need of compassion

is the same as regarding no one as in need of compassion, for it is not humanly possible to sympathise equally with the unfortunate and the villainous. The demand for equal compassion is the demand for no compassion.

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 09.54.50At the heart of the sentimental doctrine lies

hardness of heart, as well as lack of realism.

Dehumanisation

The sentimental

dehumanise the objects of their supposed compassion by denying them agency or full membership of the human race.

Baroque age of self-harm

We live in

Leonardo da Vinci, Le proporzioni del corpo umano secondo Vitruvio, c. 1490. Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Leonardo da Vinci, Le proporzioni del corpo umano secondo Vitruvio, c. 1490. Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

the baroque or rococo age of self-infliction. One of the reasons for the growth of self-infliction is the failure to recognize its existence even as a possibility.

In the outlook that refuses in the name of compassion to make a judgment,

the villainous are victims of upbringing, social injustice, neurochemistry. Self-infliction cannot exist.

But Man is

not only a political animal, he is a judging animal. To pretend to make no judgments is to make a judgment, and one with bad consequences.

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