They let these lawbreakers knit.
The punishment of knitting...it raises so many questions.
Let's begin by assuming that the research the government references--that manual labor in the community works far better than short-term prison sentences* and actually stops them committing further crimes--is correct. I don't want this devolving into some kind of law and order debate. Because I come out on the side of anarchy every time.
Let's instead think about what knitting as punishment says about us.
- Isn't knitting a kind of punishment? Aren't we masochists?
- What is meant by punishment? Is it possible that creating for charity raises an awareness of community that would change these women's perspective on their own participation in that community? And does litter collection** do a better job of this than knitting or cross stitching for others?
- Does this imply somehow that your creating items to be donated to or sold for the benefit of charity is punishment? Or is the "punishment" that these offenders--and let's face it they're probably petty thieves or drug users, possibly prostitutes--are learning that "service is the rent we pay for breathing"?
- Is knitting the kind of "useful skills" we should teach criminals? If not, what sort of "punishment" would teach useful skills?
- Given how long it takes to make knitted items, is it "tough manual labor"? Could it be tough manual labor for some but not others? And, is it because they are men who don't knit that they don't see the possibility that knitting is tough manual labor? Should the offenders be made to sweat?
- Is it possible that knitting--the new yoga--is also the new 12 step program?
- Once some of these politicians run afoul of the law (let's face it) and end up in the British equivalent of "Club Fed," is that a better punishment than making them knit?
- What precisely is the journalist saying with this sentence? "One woman sentenced to 240 hours' community service is understood to have spent her entire time knitting." Not sure if it's the "understood" or "entire" that peeves me a bit.
* This isn't just a British thing--here's a report from Cleveland
** litter collection, graffiti removal, renovating elderly care homes, restoring fallen gravestones, shoveling snow