So, this is one of a interesting class of articles – me meditating on a concept in the hopes of finding particularly broken subnets in my mind, not to mention finding out what I believe.

I’ve talked about before how stupid I think our criminal justice system is. The way we choose to punish criminals – who are generally mentally ill to begin with or they wouldn’t feel the need to commit crimes – tends to make them more mentally ill, not to mention give them a legitimate reason to hate our society and want it as a overall system to suffer. It’s also cruel, not to mention pointless. It seems to be also built to hurt the support systems and loved ones of anyone who commits a crime, and it also seems built in such a way that it does not improve the lives of the victims of the criminals. In other words, it looks kind of like it’s designed to make the world worse in a bunch of ways at the same time.

Now, experiences in puppy training have taught me that you can not teach all lessons with positive feedback. Just try to teach a dog “Don’t jump” using nothing but positive feedback. Let me know how it goes.

Now, no matter how much I reward Luna for not jumping when she first sees me, on the rare examples when she manages to contain her wiggling puppy enthusiasm, she has *no* clue why I’m rewarding her. It may be over a very long time she will come to understand.

On the other hand, negative feedback doesn’t seem to work that well either. The negative feedback she responds most strongly to is being swatted gently on the snout with paper – I think it’s a sound thing, but what’s funny is that if grab, say, a piece of mail, she won’t jump. So she kind of learned the wrong lesson there – what she absorbed was “Don’t jump when your friend has something he could swat you on the nosie with”.

Now, ideally, her and I would just talk about this, but Luna doesn’t have much of a grasp of english yet. And it’s also no doubt challenging for her because she’s *So* excited – every bone in her furry body wants to propel itself at me and assert that she loves me loves me loves me loves me. Which I can sort of sympathize with.

So, I don’t want to use stronger negative feedback. I’m sure there are a number of things I could do to her, involving all sorts of negative feedback signals, that would make her stop jumping. But I am not, at least for now, willing to risk hurting her to modify her behavior. So I guess she’s trained me to accept having a puppy launch herself at me whenever she hasn’t seen me in a while.

Anyway, that was a bit tangential, but the question here is, when is punishment appropriate and how much? This isn’t just a academic question – too much punishment will make a enemy out of whoever you’re punishing – even potentially make them desire your destruction.

What’s all this about? Well, I have a number of neural subnets that are not behaving the way I would like them to, and I’m trying to decide how much negative feedback is appropriate. Part of the problem is they’re giving *me* negative feedback, and I do not want to end up locked in a revenge cycle within my own mind. However, at some point I will run out of patience and kick them off the island. I think a few hundred subnets already know what I’m talking about here.

Being a love-oriented individual, I really don’t like to hate people, things, or subnets. However, take the adversary I mention in previous posts. I find it really difficult not to hate this individual. They repeatedly are spending their energy and time trying to make my life worse for no sane reason that they’ve ever shared with me. It’s like anonymous on the s-net.

What’s even more awkward is I definitely have moments of hating my sister, but I know it’s very likely that she’s not so much evil as very, very broken. And I certainly don’t want for her to hurt more. But I can’t think about her without feeling angry. I can’t figure out why she either doesn’t feel at all bad about what she did to me, or doesn’t share that fact with other people. I have contemplated the possibility that she’s a sociopath. What’s really bizarre is how wonderfully she treats four-foots and other non-humans. It does underline the fact that she’s not without merit, which makes the way I feel about her even more upsetting. Then there’s the part of me that remembers all the times I was attacked by her, and in all the ways. I choose to mask these memories for the most part from my conscious experience, but they’ve not been deleted, and I can still experience memories of her *actually* kicking me in the stomach, for example, any time I want. $person, since you brought it up, what would you do if you had a sibling with was constantly violent towards you, both physically and emotionally? I know what I would do *now* – and that is ask for different parents / a different house to live in, but at the time I wasn’t capable of *seeing* that possibility.

Okay. Now that I’ve gotten *totally* off the original subject, let’s go back to the question. First of all, hypothetically, what would I do to criminals?

Well, ideally, I’d have the resources to throw them in a virtual world jail where they could interact with the rest of us as long as they weren’t committing crimes and if they were, they could go off and do them in a virtual world with no one getting hurt.

Failing that? I don’t know. I doubt it’s moral for the state to hurt individuals. Then again, it’s not moral for individuals to hurt each other. You have to do something, or you end up with a world which sucks a lot. I am sure I would try to make the jail cells as comfortable as possible, and that I’d have a computer terminal with access to the best media we could find for helping people grow in every one of them.

I’m also sure I’d never put anyone in jail for things which didn’t hurt other people. I feel like our government should owe billions to the victims of the drug war – the people we put in jail for playing with their blood chemistry.

I also feel like the people have spoken. If this is a democracy, if most of us a break a law, it was a unjust law and needs to go. You do need to somehow protect the minority from the tyranny of the masses, but in the case of the drug war, it’s the masses that need protected from the tyranny of the ruthless, which is what we currently have.

I would really like to live somewhere better than here, and one of the big reasons is that Earth is in love with punishment. We can’t quite grok that it’s not moral for us to hurt people for not being like us.

I spent some time talking to a friend of mine about Javert, from Le Mis – a wonderful example of a way that the law can get it wrong. I like to cite teens sexting being charged with child pornography and similar as a example of how impressively wrong we can get it – how horrible we are to ourselves at times, with no possible defense at all. People get so slavishly attached to the law that they will make those the law was written to protect the victims of it. Is it any wonder I hate our criminal justice system?

What I learn from it is, in general, don’t punish. If you think you are punishing, as opposed to educating or assisting in growth, you have already failed. If you suspect yourself of punishing, stop, take a deep breath, regain a centered place of patience, and try again.

One Response to “punishment”

  1. Alderin Says:

    I’ve often said “I want off this rock.” You are often pointing at reasons why. We should build a space station, or an artificial island, and make things better there. That will serve as an example for the rest of the planet. Gain land without conquering, build a global revolution by education.

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