As delivered at BBC Radio Bristol this morning.
I have two eyes and most of my own teeth.
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth? A simple statement going back to the Law of Moses. When it first appears in the Bible it is suggesting that the punishment should equal the crime. It is there to stop the escalation of violence and limit vengeance. It says 'This is where the matter ends.'
But if we took it literally today then the mugged would be invited to give their apprehended assailants a free punch; the burgled would pop round to the villain's house and help themselves to some booty from the stash and the relatives of the murdered would get to open the trapdoor and watch the guilty swing.
I don't think this is the sort of society most of us want. Tempting as revenge might seem, rehabilitation is surely the better route. Whilst there are a few hardened criminals out there a vast amount of crime is either opportunist - a failure to resist temptation when a wallet is left unattended on a pub table maybe - or desperation - shoplifting food when hungry for instance.
The suggestion today that we might treat those arrested for being drunk and disorderly with education, the same way as a speed awareness course for the same cost as a fine can save three more points on a driving licence, deserves consideration. It is not my place to solve the administration problems of the scheme, but I think it is my job to applaud thinking differently when observed.
So a small cheer for an idea worth pondering. Let's all give it some thought and see if it might work.