"The Dehewwoff system of punishing by disease; graded capital punishment; the more serious the crime the more serious the disease the culprit is infected with. For minor crimes a mere fever, loss of livelihood and medical expenses; for more damaging misdeeds a bout of something lasting perhaps months, with pain and long convalescence, bills and no sympathy, sometimes marks to show later on. For really ghastly crimes, infections with diseases rarely survived; near certain death but possible divine intervention and miracle cure. Of course, the lower one's class, the more virulent one's punishment, to allow for the hardier constitution of the toilers. Combinations, and recurring strains, provide sophistications to the basic idea." p.181.
Amongst other reading and snorkeling, I read Use of Weapons on holiday. Consider Phlebas was the better read to me. I've come across this disease - justice idea before. As I read the above paragraph in the book you can see the many limitations with this, the physical, psychological and ethical dimensions. This is SF of course, but are the assumptions about the toilers accurate? As a health care professional and thus exposed to more bugs what impact would that have? You also wonder to what extent personalised medicine could physically level the sentencing field? The point about divine intervention seems to suggest a way to gauge - balance that uncertainty element. Is this left to a surface protein or something else? Are the diseases as punishments all to be physical?
My copy (see inside back cover) is now sitting on a shelf in the secondhand book section of the supermarket across from the Zante Park Hotel in Laganas, Zakynthos - the quieter end of the resort. I bought two Camus paperbacks, my book was donated - I suppose you could also say it was shop-dropped - and I'd washed my hands. ;-)
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