It seems that Riot are getting more and more intolerant of flaming, handing out punishments for even the smallest of infractions. But are they going too far and creating a more toxic environment by trying to suppress the flaming so much? Anyone who has children of their own or deals with children regularly probably knows that there is a difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is a way of teaching good behaviour, and punishment is a way of inflicting suffering for bad behaviour. There have been quite a few studies done that have found that excessive punishment is more likely to result in bad behaviour and aggression, rather than reform. Here is a very good post that details all the various negative effects of punishment, which is why parents are encouraged to use discipline rather than punishment: https://www.parentingforbrain.com/discipline-vs-punishment/
So how do we use discipline instead of punishment? In the article above 2 of the key ways it talks about is role models and natural consequences. Humans will subconsciously copy the actions of those around them, particularly those who they have a lot of respect for. Riot introduced the honour system to encourage good behaviour and role models, but I reckon they can do more (I'll explain what they can do at the end of the post). The second is natural consequences. Natural consequences are the inevitable result of a person's actions, which is far more effective at teaching someone responsibility than in punishing someone for bad behaviour.
For example, Timmy doesn't want to ever share his toys with the other children. The natural consequence of this is that the other children aren't going to want to share their toys with Timmy, or even want to play with him at all. Timmy is now all on his own with nobody to play with. This is a natural consequence of Timmy's actions. But let's say that instead of this happening, Timmy's dad give Timmy a "time out" whenever Timmy refuses to share his toys, as a punishment. In doing so, Timmy doesn't encounter the natural consequences of his actions due to the punishment, and only associates the not sharing of the toys with the punishment. Chances are that over time, Timmy will only share his toys to avoid getting the punishment, not because he wants to be a good friend to the other children. Not only that but it will mean that Timmy's dad will have to watch him all the time, because if the dad looks away for even a second, Timmy will take that opportunity to be selfish without getting punished. When a child gets punished they will probably spend their time thinking about how unfair the punishment is, and how much they hate the person punishing them, rather than why they got punished in the first place.
So how does this relate to LoL? Well the natural consequences of someone flaming another player is that the player getting flamed will likely either give up (trolling, inting or afk'ing) or flame back. Either way it usually results in a lost match. However a lot of flaming players don't see that, because all they see is the punishment for flaming, not the natural consequence. Want proof? Take a look at this very board. Dozens upon dozens of threads all complaining about being punished for flaming, about how unfair it is, how angry it makes them. Sound familiar? And as a by-product a lot of toxic players are looking for creative ways of flaming without getting detected by the automated systems. One very common one I've seen recently are the players who won't say anything in chat (because they know the chat is monitored so heavily) and so resort to ping spamming. Instead of saying "omg why didn't you use your ult?" which is likely to get punished, they will just spam the "ult ready" ping to make their point.
**So what can Riot do to improve discipline and reduce the punishments? Instead of using chat restrictions maybe just a message to the player that says something along the lines of "[insert player name] has reported you for flaming in this match. They may have played better if you hadn't flamed them." Should punishments like bans still exist? Absolutely, but they need to be used more sparingly otherwise they lose their desired effect. **
**The other thing Riot can do is promote better behaviour. As I noted earlier we have the honour system, but I think they can do more. Role models are important and I think Riot should celebrate and promote streamers and content creators who prove to be good role models to the community. You could for example have a "streamer of the week" or even "streamer of the day" who is someone Riot recognises as being a good role model to the community and a link to their stream will be on the main page of the LoL client. This will give streamers an incentive to be well behaved because it will mean more attention and views, and more players will be exposed to good role models. **