You are right in the sense that mods are strict, but i disagree that they are cruel or sadistic.
Consider the top users in terms of post count, and notice that they are still here after tens of thousands of posts - some of them with a current 0% warning level. If they can "survive" so to speak, then certainly so can you and everyone else.
Moreover, individual cases are sometimes discussed between the mods if it's unclear how to proceed, we offer ban appeals for second chances, and extraordinary unbans for third chances.
Do you know of many platforms that give out one-on-one warnings, by the way? Reddit will suspend you or outright ban you, pointing you only to the rules page without explanation. We send an open PM telling you why you're being warned, linking you to the offending post (in case it was one), and let you respond to it in case you have questions. Getting a second warning for the same offense should be very hard if you really didn't want to get one.
I'll leave the thread open for a while, in case someone has a serious question.
Edit: No questions, closing.