Discuss your opinion on why you think flogging would be more or less degrading and brutal than imprisonment.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't think that I am disclosing anything radical in my belief that I feel flogging to be a degrading punishment than imprisonment.  The idea of whipping someone is degrading, in general.  Flogging strikes me as the type of punishment that creates a sense of bitterness and resentment in its target. The notion of whipping someone repeatedly for a transgression reflects a sense of cruel barbarism.  These would be my initial reactions to how the punishment itself is quite degrading than regular imprisonment.

The act of flogging itself moves beyond the scope of reasonable punishment.  As someone who finds historical significance as intellectually and personally appealing, I think the flogging has been used as justification for control over others.  The images of slaves' backs filled with scars of flogging, and the flogging that targets of Nazi aggression received are two examples in history how flogging has been used.  In these settings, flogging was seen as a means to exact the full measure of punishment, intended to "keep people in line." Such use of flogging from a historical point of view makes it seem to me more degrading than imprisonment.

In my mind, a larger issue that arises from flogging is what statement it sends about a social order that would embrace it.  Essentially, a society that embraces flogging says that is encourages the whipping of another person's flesh.  While it might be embraced as punishment, I see it as torture.  No society can be considered advanced if it embraces means such as flogging and the torture it inflicts on another human being as means of punishment.  The bitterness that is created within the individual prevents any rehabilitative value from being evident.  Naturally, there will be disagreement with this idea.  Others will argue otherwise, and the merits of free discourse enable this expansion of discussion. Flogging is so one- sided and silences voice in the most extreme of ways that I don't think that it can be considered as anything other than more inhumane than incarceration.  When considering the perceived merits of flogging, it comes down to a fundamental perception of reality:

Flogging makes sense if one regards that supposed criminal class as a species of animal that can be “trained” to behave lawfully among us by the judicious use of pain, much like Malcolm McDowell’s reprogramming in “A Clockwork Orange.”

I suppose that for, my part, the notion of "training" intrinsic to flogging makes it one that reduces the humanity of the individual.  This is what makes it more degrading than standard imprisonment.

tascha-hader | Student

In my opinion, flogging would be the more degrading of the two punishments. However, there is an argument to be made (and I intend to make it) that flogging criminals - particularly in public - is an alternative to and could potentially prevent warehousing prisoners. 

In his satirical essay "Bring Back Flogging," Jeff Jacoby makes a dramatic and rather profound argument that perhaps prison does not work because it isn't degrading enough. While most people are aware of high rates of recidivism and the violent nature of crimes which occur in prison, most people also usually ignore those truths because we can; they are locked away out of sight, after all. 

While a public whipping might be degrading, it has the promise of being short-lived and the potential to shame petty crooks into reconsidering a life of crime in a way that the prison system in the US has clearly failed at doing.

nishu2766 | Student

propose giving a choice for peopleto receive a flogging in lieu of jail or prison time. My goal is to be more humane. Given the choice between ten lashes and five years in prison, who wouldn’t choose the lash? I know I would. Because flogging would happen only with the consentof the flogged, it would be hard to argue that it’s too cruel to consider.If the choice were so bad, nobody would choose it.I think one lash for every six months of potential incarceration isa fair deal. Some people say flogging isn’t harsh enough. Others say it may be too soft — though I really hope we haven’t reached the point in our society where whippingis considered too light a punishment.The actual flogging would be done as it is in Singapore and Malaysia, where it involves tying a person down, spread-eagled, on a large structure, pulling down his or her pants, and flogging the bare behind with a rattan cane. Make no mistake: it’s painful and bloody. It’s not a gentle spanking. But the process is over in a few minutes. Then a doctor can tend to the wounds and the person can go home.I think merely presenting the choicehelps us question the purpose of prison, and suggests how destructive incarceration is for the individual and society. It’s worse than flogging.