8. Corporal punishment, leniency to criminals, capital punishment: more cases of form, and also of social characteristics by which we can evaluate our development. For corporal punishment, given that you are able to - and do - provide the education that was described earlier, and also that you protect your children from negative influences, you should have few occasions on which you feel the need to punish them, and even less where a physical penalty is called for. But it is important to note that I do not say that there will be no such occasions, and that corporal punishment therefore should be prohibited. Children, at least some children, do behave very unethically (there is a chance element in this), and they should bear the consequences. Such punishment is in fact one of the best ways that they can learn that actions have consequences, because the source of the consequence is someone who loves them, and who therefore will act fairly and with restraint. However, in your role as judge, jury and executioner, i.e., as dictator, you must recognize the potential for abuse: for your abuse of your power through abusing your child. If you find that your child requires frequent punishment, the problem probably lies with you (including through not educating and protecting them). Rather than exact more punishment, you must seek other alternatives including, potentially, counseling, but you should resist pharmaceutical “cures,” such as Ritalin, at all costs. There are always other options, and you will have to find them.

As to leniency to criminals, one is tempted to take the opposite view: off with their heads! For example, Islamic punishments presumably act as a deterrent, but I do not know, for certain, that there is little crime in such countries as Saudi Arabia and Iran, and even if this is so if it is due to the existence of such penalties. But to continue for a moment, you could even argue that the punishment should exceed the crime: off with their leg, for jaywalking! However, an existential issue surfaces here. Some countries - the dictatorships - do exact such punishments, such as torture and death for free speech, yet the resistance continues.

Therefore, regarding the punishment of criminal activity, this represents a “dead” end, and a more enlightened approach is in order. In prisons:

- the security of inmates should be guaranteed. (There should be periodic newspaper reporting of the number of inmates in local prisons, and how many of them have been killed, raped, committed suicide, and have AIDS.)
- the inmates should be educated about ethics - why their acts were wrong - and in a practical sense, so they are trained for an occupation other than crime.
- and they should be treated leniently as to time-served, if they express real remorse.
In other words, we should strive to forgive as a society, as well as individuals. However, this leads us to the real issue of form, which is the treatment of convicts once they are released. Society, in fact, never forgives. Such people are never accepted back into normal life. And as long as this persists, the perpetrators of the crime that we do have, and as we have seen it is inevitable that there will be such perpetrators and crime, will never be reformed.

The last subject, of capital punishment, raises a distinct existential issue: are we ever justified in taking the life of another person, including as the punishment for a great crime? We have seen that killing someone is justifiable in the act of self-defense. In addition, in defending yourself you do not always have to wait until they actually point a weapon at you. If people have committed murder, and there is a high probability that you will be their next target, you can defend yourself proactively against them including, as one might have hoped would have occurred with Hitler, against any individuals who are directing them. Now, the question is: does this extend to killing such people after the fact, as retribution by others (the self-defense failed), and even by society as a whole as a deterrent? The answer is, if you accept natural law, absolutely. But if we strive for a well-designed and implemented human law, then no. Such retribution is revenge, not justice; the goal of forgiveness extends to the act of murder as well; such criminals should be imprisoned for many, many years, since this is the only way they will ever truly grasp the nature of what they have done; and there are other, better, deterrents, starting with the defeat of form to bring about a more equitable and harmonious society (and hence with far fewer cases where such a punishment would even be considered.)