"Ruthless moderation" creates and nurtures the kind of member that cannot exist without babysitting - the kind of member who simply does whatever they can get away with and then whines and complains when the staff do hit them. They are usually the same types of members who play "rules lawyer" and post reporting games.
I agree that for certain offences in the past, the penalties should have been both sterner and fairer to both members and staff alike. This would have brought into check certain members who were making a career out of dancing on the line...
The temp bans achieve nothing IMHO, they're never taken seriously and it's usually the same members wearing the infamous "-"... For the younger members - it's a "badge of honour", battle scar or entry into the "leet kewl kids club".
Perhaps the offences they were banned for were far too minor and did not warrant staff involvement? Perhaps they've been given too many chances already and are in need of a longer time out?