For me it’s “they need to face the consequences of their own actions” when used to justify something horrible being done to a person. I find it especially annoying when it’s invoked by an authority figure who plays some role in determining what happens to a person.
Now it may be that they deserve the horrible outcome, to be sure, but the passive construction “the consequences of their actions” has three fatal flaws, viz:
1. It’s obviously circular, it simply assumes the actual consequences are the fitting consequences- as if this were ordained by the universe. Just because something is a consequence of an action doesn’t mean it should be.
2. It dishonestly denies minimises the agency of those deciding and carrying out the punishment, as if the consequences just fell from the sky.
3. To the extent that “the consequences of our actions” as a concept makes any sense, arguably one of the main purposes of society, as opposed to a state of nature, is to shield people from what would otherwise be the “natural” consequences of their actions.
What thought stopping cliche or catchphrase do you despise?