remorse-manuscript-socialandlegalstudies-websiteedition.doc

In this self identification of act with being as well

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by their misconduct. In this self-identification of act with being, as well as in the spontaneous gestures of what are taken as signs of low self-regard, the offender reveals the extent of their suffering for having transgressed the norms of community. Indeed, it is the absence of suffering - the ability to maintain a calm demeanor, to avoid flooding out- 20
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that is likely to draw the court’s outrage, as exemplified by such phrases as - “he showed not a scintilla of remorse( R.v.D.B.B. [2004]:148.)” But it is important that one be precise about the type of suffering that the court expects from the offender. For his or her claim to be validated, the wrongdoer must suffer for the suffering that he caused rather than for the suffering he has endured. As one judge stated it in assessing the remorsefulness of an offender who was convicted of dangerous driving causing death-“ it is not clear, though, that one can distinguish the possibility of some remorse from the constellation of difficulties that the defendant faced throughout that time after the incident( R.v.Gratton [2003]:7.)” Or, in another instance, in which the accused was convicted of molesting two of his stepsons, the pre-sentence report is cited in the judgement as acknowledging his distress but questions whether “he is more focused on the effect the offences have had on his own life( R.v.T.E. [2003]:23).” The suffering of the remorseful offender is expected to be empathic and oriented to the other rather than to the offender’s own emotional pain. From this vantage point, even the most drastic of responses to one’s offense such as attempted suicide can be doubted as an expression of remorse if , as one judge surmised, it “could equally be interpreted as a means of escape from responsibility( R. v. Cairns [2004]:30.)” Suffering that is suspected to be self-serving or self-oriented is antithetical to the judicial perception of how true remorse should be demonstrated. In its shaping of how remorse should be demonstrated by approving those expressions of affect that are taken as real and rejecting those expressions that are perceived as superficial, strategic, or insufficient, judicial discourse both affirms and constitutes what Hochschild has called the ‘feeling rules’ of the 21
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community- both how a member of the moral community should feel about their misconduct and how these feelings should be expressed. The splitting of self mentioned by Goffman in relation to apology takes a particular form in juridical discourse in relation to remorse. If the remorseful offender is obliged to avow their unqualified responsibility for their misconduct, it is through their emotional display that they demonstrate the separation between themselves and their act. It is here that the remorseful offender does not merely adopt the standpoint of the community towards their wrongdoing- he or she demonstrates through their visible suffering and self-infliction of punishment their rejection of that part of the self that committed the wrongdoing. Hence, the offender’s
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