Law with kindness

My ideas of community generally assume that all members are responsible people who put the community's good before their own. In practice, people will from time to time depart from that and measures should then be taken to ensure the community's well-being while being compassionate to those who do not have the strength not to put themselves first. Here I take prevention to be better than cure, prevention being in this case upbringing of people in such a way that they feel little need for selfish behaviour, and cure being first counselling and subsequently ejection (i.e. ``we have explained what's wrong with your behaviour and you haven't changed; since you insist on doing it, you are now outside our community and we insist on you doing your behaviour elsewhere''). The public holding of the view that self-aggrandisment results from weakness may well tend to push people away from such behaviour; kindly but somewhat tacky concern for those making a nuisance of themselves may well not only destroy the effectiveness of many ploys but also lead to early treatment of the underlying problems. A good way of doing this may be through ``reductio ad absurdum'', finding what the sufferer is looking for and presenting them publicly with an obvious case of it.

An example of this would be that if someone breaks into other people's computer filespaces and deletes or damages files, they could be given a public presentation in which they are given a directory full of other people's files to delete while the community looks on admiring how clever they are, and the sufferer is then asked to explain to the community how much better they feel for having done so. If they don't find it helpful, but want to cause some real damage, they are given the chance to do so (or at least to think that they are doing so) and again asked to make a public presentation on how it reflects well on their personality and shows that they should be looked up to with more respect than previously...

John C. G. Sturdy
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