Saturday, April 26, 2014

Thought Experiment

A woman is walking alone at night, heading home from an evening with friends. She is slightly drunk. Suddenly, near a dimly-lit area, a man jumps out and attacks her, knocking her to the ground.

Later, the woman goes to the hospital for her injuries, is questioned by police, and evidence is collected. Eventually, she is taken home. For weeks (maybe months) afterwards, she is afraid of the shadows and dimly lit places. At night, she turns on all the lights in the house, and sleeps fitfully, waking at every noise. She is withdrawn, often breaking down into tears and wondering why this happened to her. While most of her friends are sympathetic to what has happened, some people blame her for what happened, saying that she shouldn't have been where she was, or that it happened because she was drunk.

Memories of this encounter force a change in her daily routine, and as a result, she not as outgoing and carefree as she once was. She is always on alert, looking for the next person who might attack her, and has purchased defensive weapons that she either carries with her, or has in her home. Her personal relationships begin to suffer, and eventually, she breaks up with her boyfriend. She begins to have difficulty trusting men, and often feels nervous to the point of a panic attack when she is alone with a man that she doesn't know (for example, in an elevator).

Question 1: Is the woman "damaged for life" by her encounter? Why or why not?

Several months pass, and the police finally catch the man who attacked her. She picks him out of a police lineup, and physical evidence links him to the crime. A thorough investigation shows that the man has never had a history of criminal conduct, and that this assault was an aberration in an otherwise spotless and upstanding life. The man expresses remorse over his actions, and the judge, weighing the options, sentences the man to one year in prison.

Question 2: Was the sentence too "lenient"? Why or why not?

After serving his time in prison, the man is released. He goes on to live a peaceful, productive life, marrying and having children.

Question 3: Should the man be forced to register where he lives with the local police? Why or why not?

Question 4: Did you assume the crime described above was a sexual assault? Why?

Question 5: Do your answers to questions 1-3 change if the crime was a mugging/robbery? Why?


Food for thought.