We, as a society, sometimes punish imaginary crimes more than real ones. First, let me define what I mean by an imaginary crime. It is one which produces no real impact on the so-called victim. For example, if someone spies on you while you are taking a shower and you never find out about it, what impact will it have on you? Answer: none. Yes, I understand the fact that spying on someone like that is a perverted and vile thing to do. Because of our society’s outrage over that kind of stuff, any person who is found guilty of it is likely to face a stiff sentence.
Now compare that to a real crime like someone punching you in face. That causes real pain, which may last for days, weeks, months, or even years. And that doesn’t even account for the humiliation. But someone who would do that to you would likely get a much lighter sentence than the person who spied on you. What are we thinking, people? That’s just one example. Violent crimes often draw lighter sentences than crimes of perversion such as simple possession of child pornography after the fact, although those crimes may have little to no impact on their victims.
Punishment should be based solely on the impact of the crime on its victim(s). So, what if there is no impact on the victim? Then there is no victim. To be a victim of a crime, you must experience some negative impact from that crime. Victimless crimes, of course, should never be punished. Crimes with a minimal impact on the victim(s) should merit minimal punishments. Crimes with a high impact on the victims should be punished severely. The amount of outrage a given crime generates should be completely irrelevant. What’s so hard to understand about that?