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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

7 Responses

  1. Jacob Johnson says:

    How do we know the the murderer’s IQ number of 70 is not a false one resulting from stereotype threat?

  2. Jacob Johnson says:

    that the*

  3. Robert Reavis says:

    This was a very interesting conversation. It reminded me of a lifetime of experience in what the American psychiatrist , Karl Menninger, once wrote about in the book, “Whatever Became of Sin”. His clinical case studies connected sin and guilt. He postulated that regardless of what sin is called, the habitual practice of it erodes one’s emotional and psychological being. On a national scale it corrupts culture and leads to moral decay. Many readers at the time considered it a prophetic book but what I always considered more prophetic was a review of the book written by one Ralph Slavenko in 1974 for the DePaul Law Review, DePaul University. Mr. Slavenko uses several very contemporary academic practices and techniques in his review of the book to ex-plain the work rather than understand it or explicate it. It was his technique of deconstructing the book that I thought was the real prophesy for the future and indeed has prevailed in both the academy and in the study of law and psychology a half century later.
    I was fortunate, or blessed, or lucky to have had a few teachers who knew the difference between explaining — literally to flatten– a subject as opposed to understanding it. The first leads to a kind of vain superstition of thinking we know what we don’t really know , while understanding a subject still retains a sense of wonder and interest in the mystery of human behavior. Perhaps because they were both educated in the classical tradition of our ancient civilization and thus wise to the ways of the world, Tom’s comments today reminded me of my old classic’s professor who once wrote that “the primary purpose of punishment is justice and no crime is so atrocious as to deserve the visitations of a social worker.”
    That sounds very cold and foreign to our ears because we don’t really know whatever became of sin, or even mercy for that matter. The strange thing is that Tom and my old classics professor will be remembered as the more generous, merciful and pleasant people I have known while those tending to reduce most punishment to a crime are often noticeably mean, vindictive and vile imitators of just men and women.

    A professor from Detroit

  4. Michael Strenk says:

    A very good discussion, gentlemen, I look forward to the sequel. I would like to hear the question of when is a regime no longer to be trusted to dispense the ultimate penalty. I ask this as someone who has generally been a supporter of the use of the death penalty for what have been traditionally considered to be capital crimes.

  5. Michael Strenk says:

    “…the ultimate penalty addressed.”

  6. Vince Cornell says:

    Focusing on the punishment of children for heinous crimes (which I’m in favor of, although our nation’s current justice system seems more like a circus clown show rather than august courts of law) – what is a fitting punishment for the parents of such a child? I’ve heard some vague rumblings that the parents of the latest shooting spree were particularly reckless in giving the child a gun or encouraging him in anti-social behavior and whatnot. I don’t know (and am not interested) in the particulars of the case, but it made me wonder what justice would demand of such vile parents of such a vile child. Going further, what does one do of the many men who have shirked their fatherhood and abandoned their families? It’s one thing to punish a bad father for raising a bad child, but when it comes to a deadbeat whose fatherless son becomes a reprobate, that seems equally as bad. Even in a justice system not as corrupt and incompetent as ours, how could such a principle be pursued or enforced?

    Or do we, as a society, just take our lumps together when bad or absent parents continue to unleash their hellions into the world?

  7. Kellen Buckles says:

    I haven’t heard much about exactly how the parents allegedly recklessly encouraged the son to use guns. Was that the first gun in the house or a first-time purchase? They seem to have been oblivious to their son’s problems. This reminds me of the mother of the Sandy Hook shooter: she knew her son was a freak, mentally disturbed, and yet took him to the gun range and gave him access to guns. If he hadn’t killed her, she would have gone to trial. It seems the current parents thought it impossible their nice little boy could do such a thing. That is where their guilt lies — not in having a gun in the home, but after reading the note, their loyalty to their good little boy trumped an eminent disaster. Very poor and reprehensible behavior!