Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Richard Cohen's op-ed column argues that an attempt in New York to increase the penalty for killers of children to life without parole from the current 25 years to life is not likely to achieve the desired deterrent effect as some people are just so deranged and unbalanced that they don't consider the penalties at all. As Cohen puts it, and I won't dispute, someone who is crazy or mad enough to kill a kid is going to do so regardless of the penalty society may impose on them.

Unfortunately, because society has no way of knowing ahead of time who these nuts are, the best we can do is hit them as hard as we can after they've done their damage.

But wouldn't it be great if we were able to identify those nuts before they had a chance to harm others? Wouldn't it be great if we were able to watch and monitor them and swoop in and take them out before they went postal? Wouldn't it be great if we never again had to bury a child because we failed to take the action necessary to keep that child alive?

Well, we can't really do that with child killers. But there is another situation where we can keep some crazies from killing a whole lot of people...

And that, for those of you who didn't see this coming a paragraph or two ago, is with Iran. We know they're crazy. We know they're out accumulating the weapons they need to do us harm. We have no reason to not think that they will use those weapons against us and our friends as soon as they can. We know that they are motivated enough to put up with whatever obstacles we try to put in their way. We know that the Mad Mullahs are crazy enough to not be deterred by the threat of 'substantial retaliation' were they to use their weapons against us.

As Cohen alludes, we're the crazy ones if we think that crazy people will respond the way normal people do. They don't... and the sooner we realize that, the better... and safer we will all be.