Donald Sensing has a typically excellent essay on Justice and Compassion that I suggest you don't miss.

Many leftists think that the right is hard-hearted and cruel towards the poor (and maybe some on the right are), but that's largely because the left thinks the government should be used to force everyone to be compassionate. Rev. Sensing explains why this doesn't work, and is, in fact, tyrannical.

Compassion makes a very poor guide for justice. Compassion can exist only when there is no right to receive it. A judge, for example, cannot be justly compassionate. For a judge to show compassion for one party to a case is to treat another party unjustly. Showing compassion to a burglar by an unwarranted light sentence is to rob the victim’s family of their rightful claim that the burglar will be fairly penalized. And it puts at risk larger society, which has the right to expect that burglars will not soon be turned loose to rob again.

Similarly, compassion for the victim’s family that leads to an overly harsh sentence - life in prison, for example, for a first offense when no one is injured - sets aside the rightful claim of the convict that his punishment will be consonant with the crime. Likewise, society has a rightful claim not to bear the burden of supporting him for a lifetime for commission of one, non-violent offense.

The fact that different groups have different interests that must be sometimes balanced and sometimes found to be right or wrong is what seems to escape many churches’ proclamations about public policy. The pronouncements tend to be personal compassion writ large, into state policy, then to be coercively enforced.



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