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Susan
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You may find C.S. Lewis' essay, The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment, rewarding reading. http://www.angelfire.com/pro/lewiscs/humanitarian.html Lewis is astute in his arguments about how cruel this so-called merciful liberal ideology is in practice. One of my favorite quotes from this essay is: "Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
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Dec 2, 2010