Similarly, flogging is no longer used as a form of punishment in the western world. It is seen as "cruel and unusual" punishment. However a recent article in the Boston Globe - reviewing a book "In defense of flogging" makes an argument for its return:
Peter Moskos, a criminologist at the City University of New York and a former Baltimore police officer, has just published “In Defense of Flogging,’’ a serious if startling proposal to drastically shrink America’s “massive and horrible system of incarceration’’ by letting most convicted criminals choose between going to prison and a semi-public flogging with a rattan cane. An absurd thesis? Don’t reject it out of hand, Moskos says, before considering what you would want for yourself. “Given the choice between five years in prison and 10 brutal lashes, which would you choose?’’ A flogging would be intensely painful and bloody, but it would be over in a few minutes. Prison would mean losing years of your life, being locked away from everything and everyone you care about.
Offered those alternatives - hard time or the lash - most people would choose the lash. Better the short, sharp humiliation of a flogging than the prolonged emotional torture of being shut in a cage. Better to be punished and be done with it.The argument is not without some merit. There is little doubt in my mind that prisons are an extremely cruel form of punishment - and somewhat ineffective. Normblog (highly recommended) has tries to refute the argument:
I don't find his argument convincing, though it does have a certain instinctive weight. Norm is arguing Ad-Absurdum. However is it really an all or nothing question? may we not accept that certain limited pain is morally defensible, while other more extreme cases are not? Admittedly drawing the line is sure to be difficult. However difficult is not impossible.
And so I ask: will Flogging make a comeback? Does it have a better chance in a Halachically influenced one?