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Gwen's Spot

27 March 2006

Commution: In Which Someone's Supposedly Shortened Sentence Stinks

Considering a certain book, whose name I won't reveal because I don't want to ruin anyone's reading experiences by giving away highly suspenseful endings...I've been arguing that the verdict of guilty was unfair, for various reasons, but the sentence is really the most intriguing part, at least how it was decided. This guy is convicted of about, oh, a thousand or so crimes (I suppose they could be called "war crimes", if you care), and sentenced to death. But then right after the jury both convicts and sentences him (indictment not being necessary, since he asked to stand trial anyway, so at least it's only two court processes squeezed into one), the prosecutor asks that the sentence be commuted from execution to having his soul literally wiped out and the old evil one put in place (this is SF, people, go with it).
Obviously the protagonist prefers the former option, if only because the latter unleashes incredible evil once more on the universe.
But how could the sentence be commuted--sorry, I'll stop italicizing that--commuted to a sentence the defendant prefers less?
Say somebody prefers to be executed to serving twenty-five years in jail. Ignoring the fact that suicide is illegal (what idiot came up with that law, anyway? and should the penalty be death?), I can't really think of any reason to deny that particular death wish. Unless you hold to the old justice-is-punishment view, therefore it would make more sense to force the criminal to live twenty-five years in jail to his/her preferred short, simple death, I can only think of two sensible objections (sensible, adj. 1. describing something with which Gwen agrees. 2, archaic. reasonable, understandable. [Orig. Gwen, of course. Gwen creates everything. She also talks about herself in third person occasionally, leading her imaginery psychiatrist to shake his head in despair]) to denying a criminal a wish for a harsher (as defined by the prosecution) sentence:
1. society disagrees with the prosecution, because the prosecution is off its nut.
2. I don't remember this reason, but I know I had one.
In this case, the prosecution is off its nut, but obviously the judges are too, because they just "commuted" (see, no italics) a sentence of death to a sentence that no one in their right mind would prefer. Unless they agree that "the hybrid [of the Jekyll personality to be wiped out, except that they believe that at least a remnant will still remain to balance the incredibly evil one, and of the incredibly evil one that, on a whim, I will refer to as the Hyde personality] will be greater than the sum of its parts," in which case I suspect that:
1. the person who said this was not as smart as he is supposed to be, because, sorry, (a+b)>a+b is just poor mathematics, especially for someone powered, not going to spoil anyone's reading experience, so I won't finish that sentence.
2. the person who said this was just trying to reassure the person being sentenced to soulwipe (soulwipe, n. a complete destruction of someone's personality via machine or other methodical means [Orig. Gwen, of course, from MINDWIPE-MIND+SOUL]) and/or himself and/or everyone listening.
Still, it's a hopeful note for a particularly depressing ending. The only other optimistic thing at the end is the whistling. (This is what it's all about, folks. Monkeys whistling in a big sweaty bubble. Don't let anyone ever try to tell you otherwise.)
I sure hope that if I ever get convicted of a crime, my sentence won't be "commuted" in that particular manner.

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