Monday, March 1, 2010

Punishing Emotional Crimes

France has announced they're passing measures to criminalize 'psychological violence.' The obvious critique of such a measure is the difficulty of proving and prosecuting such crimes.

The legislation is gender-neutral but clearly aimed at bringing justice to the estimated 8 percent of women in France who are psychologically abused by partners. It will punish those in cohabitating relationships who repeatedly make verbal commentary that is detrimental to a partner’s mental health – which can encompass a huge variety of insults.

The point isn't to bring thousands of criminals to justice. No, that's not ever really the point of any law.  The point is that the French government has decided that they are taking these kinds of matters seriously. They're giving these kinds of crimes their own deserved category, and, of course, are going to make examples out of serious offenders.

Evidence of psychological harm is difficult to prove beyond a he said/she said scenario, unless the victim is a good advocate for themselves. If they save emails, text messages, voice mails, and make sure to have an open dialogue with friends, family, or third party emotional caretakers (such as clergy or psychologists).

Obviously, the point of such legislation would not be to prevent hurt feelings, but to prevent the psychological harm from escalating into physical abuse. With the advent and pervasive nature of the internet, psychological abuse is running rampant. Rumors can start and fly around a kid's high school within seconds. Inappropriate pictures can be circulated, damaging someone's reputation, with a simple text. Psychological abuse, as was widely reported in the last couple of years, can lend itself heavily to teens committing suicide.

Would you like to see legislation like this passed in the US? What do you think it would mean if we began prosecuting psychological crimes? Is the mind even an area where the government has any business legislating?

Email your thoughts to: IncitingARiotPodcast@gmail.com; Tweet me @IncitingARiot, or comment below!

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

2 comments:

  1. Bravo for France! Emotional scars never fade and is the worst torture a human can inflict on another! America seems to condone this attitude and family values are slipping.

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  2. I think that this is a VERY good thing. VERY good. When I was in high school, I was tormented by these two girls. Let me just say that I did nothing to deserve what these two girls dd to me, my self esteem and my high-school life. Somehow these girls found my cell phone number, and proceeded to hound my line saying the most horrible things imaginable. Even going so far as to threaten to stalk and kill me. These things they said were brought to the police. The police told my mother that they couldn't do anything about it. NOTHING. I'm a few years older now and it still haunts me, the things they said and did. These emotional scars will stay with me the majority of my life. I've dealt with the proverbial demons, but I'm still reminded them quite a bit. I often see these girls around town, as well. I just thought you would like to see my perspective. I wish they would adopt such laws in the U.S.

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