Thursday, June 26, 2008

If it feels good, kill him.

By Capt. Fogg

The concept of punishment is inseparable in people's minds from the concept of justice. I have a hard time understanding either one. In the youth of our species, the notion prevailed that some sort of balance existed in the universe and that balance had to be maintained scrupulously lest the sun not rise and the crops fail. A more modern knowledge of the universe makes it a bit hard to believe in such things, yet we do. We do at least in as far as we talk about debts to society being paid in kind or in body part. Of course with regard to crimes of theft or property, the notion that justice prevails in the return of value to a rightful owner seems obvious, but in other cases where there is no value to be returned, such as in the case of rape or murder, the accounting model for justice runs into trouble. Does taking away a life provide a new one for the victim or the victim's heirs? Does inflicting pain and suffering or death upon the perpetrator satisfy any debt or does it satisfy the urge to kill we have inherited from our hirsute ancestors?

Being a person for whom the abuse of women and children is sufficiently loathsome that I would readily shoot someone to stop certain crimes, I still maintain that taking an eye for an eye repays no one but fictitious gods, and the universe continues to expand at the same rate and our little world goes on in the same trajectory. Yes, I would love to inflict a great deal of suffering on people who rape children. Given the opportunity I probably would, but I do not try to fool myself that I'm talking about justice. I want revenge because revenge feels good and if feels good because like anyone who reads this, I am an animal and the heir to a host of animal instincts and emotions. Instinct is expressed as the urge to do what feels good. Somehow I believe that justice needs more justification than that.

Short of denouncing judicial killings, the Court has ruled that "evolving standards" have made it less acceptable to kill someone for a lesser crime than killing someone else. While I agree, I would apply that same standard to the unnecessary ending of human life entirely. That strapping people to a cross and pumping their veins full of drain cleaner is tolerated in a nation fulsomely bellicose about its Christianity stretches the bounds of the term hypocrisy.

That's my opinion anyway, although I could be wrong. But I don't think so.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a third reason for the actions we take against criminals. You mentioned justice and revenge. The third is future protection of society from the offender.

I agree with you that justice, if we mean any actual satisfaction, for the victim, is not possible in violent crimes as it is in property crimes. I also agree that, while revenge is indeed sweet, it has no place as the only justification for punishment in a civilized society.
But protection of that society from potential future crimes is a justification for whatever means might be necessary to achieve it.

I don't know how many times we have to watch someone commit violence against others before we remove them from the society for good. That is for others with more expertise to decide. But I do know that temporary incarceration, over and over again, is not working. And it also seems silly to keep building more and more prisons where we can just "store" our criminals like grandmas jelly jars in the cellar.

And I am not so naive as to believe that our economy will miraculously improve, that the poor will somehow get richer and the rich will get poorer, that drugs will disappear off of our streets, and that racial gangs will stop hating each other.
That being the case, I think the only way to protect society is to remove the violent criminal from it and do so permanently.

6:07:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

I have to look at countries, like the Netherlands, which, until radical Islam appeared in strength, had almost a zero murder rate and no capital punishment.

I would agree that the rapist in question needs to go away permanently, but I will always be uncomfortable with allowing our government the power to kill people it is not necessary to kill.

10:05:00 AM  

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