Victims Of Society

When I was twelve or fourteen I had an explanation for the evil in the world.

Anyone who murdered, tortured, destroyed another human being (while I understand the evils of property damage/theft, it still most of the time falls short of totally destroying someone) only did it because he was a victim of society.

It wasn’t an original explanation.  By which I don’t even mean that I wasn’t the first to come up with it.  Of course, I wasn’t.  However, I didn’t come up with it at all.  I imported it wholesale from my brother who, though he was only ten years older than I, was very much involved in the whole sixties ethos.  It was all society’s fault [man] and if we got rid of capitalism and like put flowers in our hair [man], it would all be so groovy and stuff.

I never fully bought into the “if we just got rid of capitalism” – it didn’t compute.  I was an history geek, and I knew how the other systems stacked up.  BUT I wanted to believe the “it’s all society’s fault” at least society writ small.  “It’s all his family’s fault.”  “His mom spanked him when he was little.”  “He probably has a complex.”

This was fed in part by the fact that villains in books – the interesting ones, at least – do tend to have reasons for what they do.  They were abused or they suffered horribly or…

The human brain likes imposing patterns on the natural world, including very (un)natural human beings.  And we wish to think no one would do ill on purpose.  Or for no reason.  Certainly it doesn’t make a very interesting story.

My son has been reading a(n accurate) biography of Che Guevara.  When it gets to be too much for him, he comes to me and talks about it and says “I just can’t understand how anyone gets to be like that.”

At the same time I’ve been reading – malgre moi – bits and pieces of the freak show that was the Gosnell operation.  I mean, I try not to read details, but pieces of the whole thing will catch my eye even as I’m avoiding reading it (I’m avoiding reading it, because if I get so angry I burn a hole in space/time it won’t be good for anyone.)  Baby feet in jars?  Blind (because too young) babies left to die in pain and cold?  WHAT?

Then there is that whole thing in Ohio – three brothers who, as far as we know, had lived fairly normal lives till then, in middle age decide to kidnap young teenagers (one of whom was the friend of one of their daughters) and keep them as sex slaves?

How does this even happen?  If you say “they were horribly abused as children” or “their mothers twisted them” or whatever the h*ll you want to, I’m going to tell you that yeah, but it’s not enough.  And besides you’re spitting on everyone who underwent equal trauma or worse and grew up to be a decent person.

This is akin to excusing terrorism with “they’re poor”.  First of all, no, the heck they aren’t.  Most of the 9/11 attackers were quite well off, thank you.  And second, you’re spitting on all the poor people who never brought down planes and towers.

There was a time in the seventies when every trial was resolved with “he was abused as a child.”  By which they meant anything from sexual abuse to “he once didn’t get the lollipop he wanted.”

At some level or another, we ALL were thwarted or traumatized or “abused”  It’s impossible to go through life without doing it.  The only way to avoid it would be not to have a body.  Even to have all our wishes instantly gratified is a peculiar form of abuse, since it doesn’t prepare us for the inevitable buffets of the world.  Whether you are G-d’s special snow flake or not, sometimes it will rain on your picnic.

Are the communists perhaps right?  Is the capitalist system prone to creating this type of thing?

Well, not more than anywhere else.  In the Soviet Union, perhaps – perhaps – there were fewer free lance mass murderers, but that’s only because the state hated competition.

There were (possibly more – in some perspectives we’ve been taming ourselves over the centuries) the same sort of cases under monarchies.  There are these sorts of cases under strong man governments.

They are right of course, to an extent, the same way they are right about madness.  But that’s only because ANY society is going to be oppressive.  If you’re not floating in a bodiless place where your every wish is gratified – human meeting human causes trouble and pain and inconvenience for everyone.  If two people meet they won’t always agree.  There will be strife.  That is because Earth is not paradise.  And it will never be.

On the other hand, the madness thing – in a way all humans are mad, caught between intellectual vision and desire and the animal body.  If we didn’t force the animal body to do things it doesn’t want to do (like dance, or write, or the really difficult work, like digging ditches of building skyscrapers–)  there would be no civilization.

But few of us even murder one person, much less groups.

These days the official explanation is “they’re born evil.”  But are they?  We all have potential for great evil.  Trust me, even those who haven’t read my books, be assured that I can dream up horrible scenarios.

So what is the solution?  What explains humans being willing to go out and eliminate vast numbers of innocents?  Or to kidnap young girls as sex slaves?

They think they can get away with it.

I’d say that’s the sum of the thing.

All humans have these thoughts and temptations.  But once you give in… well, once you give in, its effect on you makes it easier to do it again, and again, and bigger.

Once you consider other humans outside the human scope.  Once you stop respecting them for the sake of common humanity, you’re going to end up thinking what you do doesn’t matter.  And you’re going to feel (a little) invincible.  You’re going to kill more, better, bigger.  You’re going to kidnap another young woman.  You’re going to think you’re like onto the gods…

The beginning can be as simple as being fairly sure no one will catch you.

But wait, there’s more.  When the culture promotes the idea that “we belong to the government”; when the culture promotes the idea that it’s perfectly all right to kill the very young, the suffering old, the mentally afflicted, the bodily deformed…  Once you accept the idea that common humanity or not, there are people who aren’t “people” as such…

You let the monster out.  Whether you do it yourself or you vote to have people “whose lives aren’t worth living” put to death, it’s the same.

You’ve stopped respecting humanity and therefore rendered yourself less than human.

Treating people as units, instead of bringing about Earthly paradise always brings about mass graves.  Perhaps because it mimics the thought processes of a psychopath who views others as means to his end.

And the only true victims are the dead, the maimed and the coerced.

UPDATE:  Post on writing technique over at Mad Genius Club: Expose It Yourself

223 thoughts on “Victims Of Society

  1. Personally, I attribute this sort of thing to our regretable lack of Christianization of the wicked. By “Christianization,” of course, I mean nailing the sons-a-bitches to large crosses, in public, and letting them die by inches over days.

    It’s for the children.

      1. The Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment. It does not allow exceptions when the offender deserves it. Is anyone proposing that the Constitution should be amended to permit crucifixion and the like?

        Afaic that provision is not in the Constitution out of compassion for evildoers. It is there out of concern for the well-being of society.

        Notwithstanding false convictions that have come to light in recent years, I favor capital punishment in principle. I agree that some crimes are so terrible that punitive torture is just punishment. However, I do not trust any human or human institution with the power to impose such torture.

          1. I have long maintained that incarceration, the depriving of a person’s liberty, is in fact cruel and unusual punishment. Death on the other hand is simply the natural order of things.
            Or as the saying goes, capital punishment is simply a way to prevent a judge ever having to say “What, you again!”

            1. To give, with safeguards and due process, a convict the choice between execution and incarceration seems an idea worth considering, though I’ll be slow to make up my mind abut it.

            2. I’ve heard arguments for bringing back corporeal punishment. The funny part is that the very people who argue, “Oh no it’s too cruel” will, if told that criminals can substitute one blow for six months in jail, will instantly start saying it’s far too lenient.

          2. Sounds reasonable.

            I’m not sure I’d call the noose or guillotine humane, but I don’t call them cruel either.

            1. One thing you have to consider also, is what they actually meant when they were talking about “cruel and unusual punishment”. They were talking about things like Bastinado, Drawing and Quartering, etc. They weren’t talking about putting someone in prison for a long period of time, or executing them quickly.

              1. In the case of things like death by slicing, there is also the issue of, as I think I’ve heard Tom say, that if the executioner has to work at it, it kinda hurts the dignity of the state. I think they hung people by the thumbs, historically, in America enough that it can’t be called entirely unusual.

                Of course, there is a very specious counterargument to the cruel and unusual punishment part of the constitution. Certain of the Plains Indians tribes were known to torture enemies, sometimes, I think, to death. (This was part of their gender norms. All men were warriors, and they honored captured warriors by torturing them, and thereby giving them the opportunity to show how stoic* they were.) That we do not openly do the same is a cultural difference, and hence refusal to use torture, or to use cruel and unusual punishment is racist.

                *Strictly speaking, there were differences between the mentality of a Plains Indian warrior and an ancient Greek stoic.

                1. Well, you forgot to add that the “honor” of torture also provided the killers an opportunity to vampirize/duplicate/add the spiritual power of the kill-ee.

                  1. Hadn’t heard that. The sources I’d heard about it from must’ve neglected the more woowoo mystical side of things. Makes since, as there are other folks that do similar things for similar reasons. Doesn’t fit with the spin I was trying to put on things that post, however much if fits other posts of mine today.

                    1. Umm… I thought the mystical (eat your brave enemy’s heart) was common knowledge. It was something I read before I was seven. (some reports from colonists about certain tribes)

                    2. Mystical side of some cannibalism practices, yes. Specifically that all of the Plains Indian torture killings also had a mystical motivation? No. I’d only associated that sort of thing with domestic nutjobs, overseas peoples, maybe some of the mesoamericans (although they might’ve had some contact north), and prehistoric peoples. Makes a bit of sense considering counting coup.

                      That said, I’d known that, as with every other distribution of peoples, that some of the tribes would have had some pretty vile habits. I think some of them were specifically wiped out for them. (Not that there weren’t a fair amount of relatively benign tribes also wiped out.)

                      Frankly, I have a tendency to avoid looking too closely at real world mystical practices. So I would be more likely to focus on the sort of sources which merely say ‘this was their custom in dealing with prisoners’.

          3. You wouldn’t want to hang the guillotine. It needs to be firmly anchored for proper operation. You wouldn’t want your revolution interrupted by OSHA complaints!

            1. And there are some people who deserve “unusual” punishment. Those three men should be locked in a room by themselves, with only a solid metal door for entry and exit, and a small vent high in a 20-foot ceiling. They should have the minimum hygienic functions, and meals delivered through a slot in the bottom of the door. They should have no interaction with anyone else, until they die (Darkship Renegades?). On the other hand, Dr. Gosnell should be subject to the same type of cruel and unusual punishments he perpetrated on his victims, both adult and newborn, for as long as he can be kept alive. ALL Gangbangers found guilty of murder should be hanged in public, and allowed to remain on the drop for a minimum of one week, just to ensure the remaining gang members knows what’s in store when they’re caught. Prison isn’t a deterrent, it’s graduate school. And we pay for it, both in cash and misery.

              AFAIAC, members of the ACLU should be treated the same way as gang members, each and every time they get a crook off on a technicality, and he recommits. They should suffer HIS fate. Might provide the necessary attitude adjustment.

              Yes, I know, I’m mean, evil, wicked, bad, cruel and heartless. Deal.

              1. I’m mean, evil, wicked, bad, cruel and heartless. Deal.

                You say that like it’s a bad thing.

                1. In addition teach all women self-defense techniques and one woman as a rapist assassin. The guy won’t know if he will get his balls kicked off or get killed in the attempt.

              2. Mike–
                Generally, I agree, except that you didn’t go quite far enough: As for child molesters, child pornographers, those who use children to peddle–or consume–drugs, and all others of such bottom-feeding genre, my approach to providing them with “therapy” would be “Mr. Pervert, meet your new best friends: Mr. Tree Branch and Mr. Piano Wire.”

              3. I tend to think that the pot smokers deserve to be treated capitally. I have a specific method in mind also.

                Deserve is not the same as how the criminal justice system ought to deal with offenders.

                I well understand the problems this has with our justice system, both in theory and in practice.

                Not to mention that if I could get the votes and support for implementation, that capital could probably be used to alleviate some of my concerns more cheaply, even if doing that would please the inner spoiled brat less.

              4. Mike, Solitary confinement is cruel and only should be used when absolutely necessary. The death penalty is well, ritual muder

                Also you are kind of assuming that people who don’t know you, don’t share a faith with you, probably aren’t your race and are only marginal participants in this society have moral obligations to you.

                Thats not the case. They do not.

                In the modern urban enviornment, all the social capital that the church and family has provided now has to be paid for with hard money or people will default to the lower social order, i.e an ersatz tribe the gang.

                They aren’t victims here but are doing the rational thing for them.

                Now certainly you can treat the whole endeavor as tribal war and hope your law enforcement doesn’t come down on you but its doomed to fail.

                The gansgters in banking control the money and the street gangs aren’t all stupid, they have friends and family in the school district and the DMV as well as have Internet access and far more resources than your family can muster, Fact is they are better suited to play the atrocity game than you and as Mexico has shown, good at it too.

                The only way to win is not to play, you fix civilization, apply consequences (including a life sentence if needed) and make there be real gains and incentives for doing the right thing. Right now, for many, its a suckers game and for those who aren’t downright low impulse types the approach seems to be to not reproduce.

                I’d call that failure myself and as more people become unemployed and machines do more and more jobs its going to be worse and worse.

                It might be a whimper not a bang but its an endgame and in every sense, broadly all of us are victims

                1. Cute. Marxist sociology. Such a pretty, pretty construction and NOTHING to do with reality. “Urban environment” “Other races” “social capital”

                  DEFINE YOUR TERMS and THINK for the love of heaven.

                  1. 1st, I am not a Marxist. It doesn’t scale past a hunter gatherer band. I do think the world is becoming zero sum but thats a seperate matter.

                    2nd I am not a cultural Marxist either, I don’t think people are interchangable (well Capitalists think this too) or equal or that all cultures belong jammed up against one another. Prolonged contact usually creates more problems than its worth so instead of assuming “civilized mans” burden in my book its better to let the barbaraians bar in barbaira and not here.

                    3rd Most criminals including murders aren’t insane. A few are but the vast bulk of homicides are either crimes of passion or in gang land are basically tribal warfare. The fact is there is not where near as much difference between a drive by shooting (other than aim) and a firing squad outside the courthouse (if we had such things) as we’d like to think. They both have grievences and they both have processes to determine who gets shot. They also both follow a “ritual struture” and are done a certain way for certain reasons. Thats why street gangs, even the low IQ ones don’t knock on doors and shoots people in theface. The drive by is raiding behavior and is ritualized (as some people suspect holding a gun sideways might be) The biggest difference is that firing squads try not to get the wrong target which is big deal.

                    And note, the issue of legitamacy. Legitimacy is relative to that society. we think drive bys are appaling and wrong but they hold our courts system, which we in theory accept as the best method, to the same opinion

                    4th Race matters on aggregate though individual characteristsics matter more. Since behavior has a biologically determinate characteristic . How a person will react to the cues on their enviorment seems to be about 60% nature, 40% nurture it may even be higher

                    5th Urban enviroment does matter, People evolved a certain way and certain enviroments create new stress patterns anf these patterns help create certain behaviors under certain conditions The difference between say a London slum of Victorias era and the Chicago Projects was technology and ethnicity , both were areas very bad behavior and despite big differences still had a lot sociologically in common.

                    6th Also cities are population sinks. They have been throughout history with a a few exceptions among poorly educated folks with high religioity (Nigeria right now) and during a period of extra ordinary affluence (I.e the post WW2 era)

                    The West will not have that level of religiosity for a long while (till the religious population exceeds the non religious through natalism) and even if or when it increases this religioisity may lead to a faith in which conrolling population size is a sacrament, Relgiosoity is spectrum of behaviors, along with a series of congnitive differences (and in case you are wondering, I am religious, its not my politics and it none of anyone’s bees wax) and if the dominent religion is not natal, people won’t be.

                    7th Economics matter.People who can’t afford children and don’t face social pressure or have social capital) to have them won’t in the 21st century.

                    Look at Portugal .

                    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/09/portugal-unemployment-government-cuts

                    The overall unemployment rate is 27%, among those 15to 24 (the last four years being peak fertility) its 65%. How are those people going to pay for thier kids in a global system wih no demand for labor. Even of the ones with jobs, this does not imply that the job pays enough to feed a child.The assumption that they will go back to the farm and participate or that some self organzing money fairy will come along is bollocks. No jobs, no babies. Crappy job fewer babies.

                    The fact that Portugal and much of the EU has a high a birth rate as it does suggests to me a higher than average desire for kids. However the means are not there,.

                    Modern society drains social capital (defined via wikipedia as” the expected collective or economic benefits derived from the preferential treatment and cooperation between individuals and groups.”and social networks with value”. isolate extended families, wounds churches and discourages private organaztion in favor of the State. Urban living means people often lack means and while some skilled people will do fine, there aren’t enough of them to make up the difference,

                    What happend is people have reached social carrying capacity for most of the globe, 93% of the population now lives in countries with a declining birth rate and in time I suspect it will be basically veryone but the ferals at below replacement fertility.

                    The normal ideas, distribute wealth and such don’t work because you can’t engineer away hman nature. We are tribal,won’t accept Marxism or its more benign cousin Distributism and Social Demoracy past a certain point and without means, population falls till its stable for the society and conditions.

                    Assuming that old moral frameworks like say Chritianity or whatever else was used will succeeed in buffering or reversing trends is just false.

                    Hoepfully automation won’t reac a poin in which TFR stays below replacemnt forever or the human race is basically toast but thats a while off.

                    Till then TANSTAAFL and if you want a stable,low crime civilization that can replace itself ,some means of paying for it will have to be found.

                    1. IF you expect me to read a tome on the subject, you must give me the tardis so I can find the time to write the short story that is due.
                      However, on your first comment — regardless of what you think you are, analysis by “race” and “environment” and applying the law unequally to different groups IS Marxism. You simply haven’t thought things through.

                      On your dump on work/automation… Oh, my stars and garters. You must be under forty. We heard this cr*p in the seventies as explanation for why Carter couldn’t bring unemployment down. There might be a time we ain’t gonna work no more, but that is not now. Nor tomorrow.

                      As for urban environments, for evolutionary purposes we’ve been living in them for the last two thousand years, maybe five thousand. (I.e. groups larger than the tribe and more than 100 people.)

                      The constitution is 200 years old. How about we stick to it?

                    2. Mrs. Hoyt did not accuse you of being a Marxist, nor a cultural Marxist. She described your arguments as such. An obvious distinction that no doubt escaped you. Accusing a person of spreading social disease is not to imply they are nor endorse such disease.

                    3. Your argument that people who are poor/unemployed won’t have babies is, to put bluntly, a load of bunk. People on the edge of starvation due tend to have less children, this is in a large part due to the infertility/inability to carry to term by severely malnourished women. Anywhere above that the poor/unemployed tend to be the HIGHEST reproducers. There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the biggest (and most overlooked) is the fact that sex is very cheap entertainment. In fact it can be had for free, at home, without any advance planning, and can be squeezed into relatively short time periods when necessary.

                    4. Yes, I intended to point that out, nor is anyone in most welfare states (until of course the welfare state collapses, which is inevintable) but somehow that sentence passed through my brain, but didn’t make it to my fingertips.

                      I’ll blame it on working back to back 18-19 hour days.

                2. And jail is ritual kidnapping, fines are ritual theft, and corporal punishment is ritual assault and battery.

                  If its being punishment inflicted by the government makes it all right, it’s all right. If not — well, then, back to the law of the jungle, because all punishments would be crimes if inflicted by private parties.

                  1. If it is immoral to create a government and enforce laws, these things use coercion, then it is also immoral to use coercion to prevent me from forming a government and enforcing my own laws.

                    1. Something as significant as murder ought be accompanied by ritual. Anything less is simply rudeness.

                  2. Government making at all right only applies of almost everyone agrees its OK. Heck in most cases, even the crooks accept they got whats coming to them. Make it too awful and you lose that.

                    Also the civilized world seems to be abolishing the death penalty and torture neither seem like great ideas at the moment even if you iognore the real risk of an atrocity spiral where the self organzied gangs go after soft targets (well that or the State has a size 14 Jackboot on everyones neck 24-7 by by liberty)

                    Heck its serious enough that its getting hard to put down a sick cat since State governments insist on diverting chemicals from human execustions and while the law might allow for firing squad or hanging, its hard to find nough execuioners.

                    Heck even Saudi Arabia is short swordsmen for its decapitations, baby steps.

                    1. Is this supposed to mean something? Are you saying that prison, fines, and corporeal punishment would be illegitimated if a sufficient number of people didn’t like them? That if a country thought imprisonment too cruel but execution just fine, you’d go with that?

                    2. Superficial twaddle, making an argument made far more entertainingly by Cyril Kornbluth more than fifty years ago. Jejune and trivial reductio ad absurdum effort premised on delegitimizing government through sophistry and handwavium, I expect better quality from High School sophomores.

                      IOW, not even worth rebuttal, too insubstantial to refute.

                    3. Mary, if the bulk of a society does not think something is legitmate than its not.

                      What is legitmate is in fact subject to change, The arch example here is chattel slavery in the US. It no longer legal. Another example is Prohibition. We thought we could make booze illegal but because the bulk of people though the law was dumb and did not grant it legitimacy and there was not enough force ,it failed.

                      You have to understand the divine doesn’t grant us anything in this world or set any rules for us other than laws of physics and the iron law that actions have consequences.Thats it,

                      The rest is up to us and its our job to either build a society and choose policies which the vast majoity of people respect . Its pretty clear that the ours is failing, the land of the free looks more and more like a police state, the prisons are teaming and the only way to keep the population from freefall is mass immigration. fromplaces that are worse This tells me that the natives think its not working,

                      Therefor its sounds to me like people are doing what people do tribing up and defending the ideology even when its a failure.

                      And note being better than someone else is no a success, yes people want to come here but thats because its so bad at home and they are under the illusion thats its better. Given that the paper report net migration from Mexico is zero now I’d say those folks are wising up.

                    4. The bulk of society does not accept that things are not legitimate according to whether things are accepted by the bulk of society, so that view is illegitimate.

                3. Others have dealt with most of your comment much more eloquently than I can. However, your comments about the death penalty and solitary confinement are, at best, misguided. It is clear you have never had to been in the situation where you’ve had to stand over the body of a someone who has been murdered over a five dollar bill or have ever had to explain to a child why his mother or father won’t be coming home. I’d bet you’ve never looked someone in the eye who preyed on young women, driving the streets looking for teens and young adults to kidnap, abuse and kill. None of that was heat of the moment. None of it was brought on by mental illness as it is currently defined. The defendant was most definitely not insane. He was evil in the truest sense of the word.

                  Yes, there is evil and evil must be punished.

                  So, I can hear you now. Give these evil men a life sentence. Well, guess what, a life sentence is never a life sentence. At least not a guaranteed one. Why? Because prisons get overcrowded and legislatures demand the prison administrations release folks. These same lawmakers also change the rules about what a life sentence really means.

                  Like it or not, there are some folks who deserve to die for what they did. Honestly, if the man I referred to above hadn’t been sentenced to death and placed on death row where he was in a cell by himself, I guarantee you he’d have been killed by one of his fellow prisoners — after he’d been treated much the same way he’d treated girls, some as young as eight years old. If that isn’t cruel and inhuman, I don’t know.

                  With regard to solitary punishment, what are we supposed to do with those prisoners who cannot exist in the general population of a prisoner? These are the prisoners who continually assault their fellow inmates or guards. These are the ones who continually try to escape. People are injured or die because of their actions. Do we keep them in with the other prisoners and expose the state to law suits for not protecting others?

                  Oh, I know. You think they should get their own private cell on a cell block like those on death row. Okay, where’s the money to come from? Do you have any idea how much it costs per day per prisoner as is?

                  You need to grow up and look around you. A drive by shooting is not the same as a firing squad on the front step of city hall by any stretch of the imagination. There are victims in a drive by, often innocents. A firing squad is that consequence you say we should have. Perhaps if we quit coddling the hard core offenders, we’d see fewer cases of recidivism.

                  Now go crawl back under your rose colored rock and look up what Marxism really means — trust me, it isn’t what your college professors taught.

                  1. Really folks want to frame the argument here as Traditionalism vs Marxism but thats a failed argument. What matters is what works vs What doesn’t .

                    Cultural Marxism is well, a failure, Socialism is dead and Social Democracy is tottering. Even Capitalism only ends up as Oligarchy (c.f much of the modern US)

                    We need a better solution I think to match the technological change and movement away fromt he need for human labor

                    As to your points, I never took any of those courses. I did trade school sorry.

                    And having known more than a few gang members (who are pretty much like regular folks only with lower IQ’s too much pride and lower impulse control) and known a few sociopaths (the truly evil people that have no conscience) its hard for me to not understand them.

                    The ones I fear are the political class and the money men. They cange the laws to suit them and do more damage with funny money and incomprehensible financial manipulation than all the killers in Chicago . The gangsters are bad but mostly avoidable don’t do dope, don’t have kids when poor, don’t steal and you’ll mostly avoid them , the suits have real power and are everywhere.

                    Also using “for the children” rhetoric ain’t gionna fly with me. Violent crime sucks, the death of innocents suck but I’ll be damned if I am going to have the State enagage in revenge killings or revenge torture. Lock them up, fine. Incapacitate people who hurt other people in prison till they stop, fine , if people resists arrest, shoot them, fine but torturing people and murdering people who surrendered to you is less moral than what the perp did.

                    And yes a drive by is like a firing squad, break that societies rules and things happen to you. the gangsters rules are stupid and short sighted but these things do not happen in a vacuum and other than lacking the patina of legitimacy of the state are basically a cracked mirror of the what goes on in civilization. Cause and Effect

                    heck killing someone over a debt isn’t immoral in some societies , directly or indirectly (the police cometo seize your stuff, you regard it as theftm they kill you) and in the past it was common. Several states today allow people to kill over propertry crimes, Texas did not long ago (and may sill) Its a petty sum but it is in line with the thinking in parts of our society right now.

                    And yes even hurting innocents along the way however vile is quite common, in some backwards places they still practice collective punishment.

                    All that said that does not mean I think this is a good culture or a laudable one or approve of such behavior or want it.

                    1. AB– I know there are other people who can explain this better than I can. This is NOT an attack on you, but it is an attack on your schooling which is the same schooling that most of the younger people have been subjected to in the last decade (probably more).

                      First terminology– cultural Marxism, socialism, and Social Democratism are the same thing–and the basic document that they use and modify is Karl Marx’s The Communist (and other writings). These groups change their name every so often so that they can look like something totally different. To belong to the group, a member has to toe the dogma, which is why we say that it has become their religion.

                      The US Constitution is the experiment with underpinnings that all men (and women) are created equal (i.e. not equal opportunity) and can have the freedom to accomplish any goal that they are willing to work towards (or have abilities in that area). To throw away the Constitution is to throw away the one bright spot in the governments of men.

                      If you want to understand more about why this document is so important I would suggest your read both the Federalist and the Anti-federalist documents (written by the men who were writing the Consitution and trying to get support for a government– Constitutional republic —NOT A DEMOCRACY– that would keep people free from government interference). It is why we want to see limited government.

                      To go back to the tribal way of living, (even though so many think it was a peaceful and wonderful time) It will bring back a more violent time and period– I suggest you pick up an old history book in your library– that was not written by a Social Democrat.

                      I am sure that gang members do love their families– even the most violent men of history loved their families.

                      The reason we are seeing such a breakdown of civilization in our time (imho) is that families are being broken, discipline is not allowed to civilize our small children, and a lot of crap is being taught in the schools. Less reading, writing, and arithmetic and more social programs. What has happened is that we are seeing (I mean those of us that are older) youth that are extremely immature, and who never grow up. It is ridiculous to be told that an 18 year old is of legal age, but is also a child. HuH?

                      As I say again– you have lived through this period of infantalizing men and women so you might not even know it is happening or understand what is happening.

                      I don’t agree with collective punishment either– In fact I strongly disagree with it. I have felt it–

                      So get yourself educated because the State did a poor job– once again it is not your fault until you know differently and then it is your obligation to learn what you missed. And yes, I have had to do that too.

                      Cyn

                    2. Um, no. You want to claim that’s how people are framing the argument, but your claim is false.

                      Skipping past all the codswallop, your assertion of equivalence of firing squads and drive-by shootings is fallacious nonsense, akin to declaring marriage the equivalent of rape. It is nonsense, and it does not elevate it to put it on stilts.

                    3. Several states today allow people to kill over propertry crimes, Texas did not long ago (and may sill) Its a petty sum but it is in line with the thinking in parts of our society right now.

                      Texas lets you defend your property with deadly force.

                      What sort of force do you suppose those trying to commit those “property crimes” are willing to use?

                    4. Cyn, agreed that CM, SD and Socialism use much of the same root work, they still are different in many ways.

                      I’ve also read a lot of the work you mention. The problem is it doesn’t scale from a state focused, male landowners only vote agrarian republic to the 21st century mess we have. I think the basic personal liberties are fine and vital when we manage to enforce them (we have usually failed since about 1800 or so) but modern tech requires a much bigger state,

                      As to the Constitution , following the document to the letter with original intent (which is how you’d have to do it, the concept of precedent has been distorted by appointed political apparatchiks) would result in minarachy.

                      Frankly I don’t think that system even with much needed localization of power would actually work in the modern age.Complexity, technology and risk work against it.

                      If I am wrong, well I’d be happy to be so proven but I think its as silly a pipe dream as Communism .

                      On the issue of tribalism, I agree completely. I do not however think that sustaining the current system is possible for much longer. Its too energy intensive and automation is quite close to rendering human labor too low in value to sustain modernity. Tribalism is default under those circumstances

                      As to the youth issue, I also agree. This is one of labor as well. Even when i was a lad (and I near enough to middle aged not a twenty something) there were junk jobs for kids (I did as most of my peers did, food service) however changes in the legal climate (granted reversible) and a incentive on the fact that adult labor costs the same wages and benefits and is a better value has pooched that.

                      As a former employer, I wouldn’t given a chance hire a kid if I could a get an adult for the same price. However if I don’t do it and no one else does, the system that provides workers and consumers will not be in good shape. Its the same thing that Henry Ford and the unions ended up doing, he chose voluntarily to pay good wages and because of that and a lo of angry workers we have a prosperous society. without that? We’d be singing either Horst Wessel Lied or the International

                      How we get way from greed I good and back to muzzle not the ox without the state is the big question

                      Let me also introduce you to the forerunner of the end of the unskilled job, Baxter

                      http://www.rethinkrobotics.com/index.php/products/baxter/

                      This tech will be able to replace well everybody in time and when it becomes say $8k per year for a robot basically the entire foundation of the system will crumple. No workers means no demand, Cut wages and you get deflation or poverty and unlike in the past, you get less babies.

                      We have issues with this now, technology here has killed paper delivery in many areas, telemarketing, record stores, books stores will go soon (sob!) most manufacturing, and all the chain of jobs created along the way for semi skilled labor

                      And yes I know some people will make it, that’s not the point. Its a numbers game, 75% unemployment means massive trouble. Your best case scenario is Japan a doomed society or good chunks of Europe with below replacement fertility and no out.

                      And as for undergoing a civil collapse, I couldn’t agree more. However that is not a question of morality. We have a system that simply doesn’t sustain families and only some big changes (patriarchy yay!) and some economic adjustments are going to fix it,

                      I don’t think they can be had in time.

                    5. I will continue to disagree that those terms are different. It is because I saw the evolution of the various supposed forms and they all come down to the same thing– workers unite and let us be in charge.

                      The Constitution to the letter is a better document that any that has been written before or since this experiment. I still maintain that it would be wonderful to get at least to the intent– (I am not counting the slave counting btw or not stopping the women’s vote). As for patriarchy– I am one to believe in families with a strong father and a equal mate (mother) who raise barbarians into civilized beings. I am not against gay marriage (here is where I deviate from the normal religious person) because I agree with our hostess that marriage is a civilizing influence on men. I have known men who have been in pair-bonds for a long time. I like that–

                      You say you are middle-aged– I am 52 and I was seeing the beginning of the deterioration of education in the mid 60s. I learned how to read (old-fashioned curriculum) and my sister a year later did not learn to read (new programmed reading.) The reason I mention education is because we are seeing the end result of children being taught that they are unique and their egos have been stroked so much that many of these teens and young adults are not reliable workers. (Some of them come out of it in their 30s, but not all). So I understand that it is another reason (not just economics) that businesses are not as liable to hire youngsters. In my case, I saw a lot of teens work in the fastfood industry. Also I was from a farm family so I had been working since I was very young (weeding gardens and learning to cook at the age of six). So once again, the immaturity has come from education, the illegalization of discipline, and some disinterest of raising children from the parents. Notice two of these are against even good people who want to raise their children. Plus people are encouraged to put their children in childcare.

                      Just a note: I worked in a school-age facility for six months and saw what happened to children who were raised by people who cared for their needs but were not really interested in them (which is happening all over the country). The children especially the boys were violent and many of them were on some type of drug usually Ritalin.

                      I am trying to catch all of your points AB– I may miss some–
                      We can muzzle the ox– as you say by first taking out unnecessary regulation and laws. There are so many. It would help the parents if they could be allowed to swat their kids and at the very least discipline their children. Even the great apes swat their little ones.–

                      Another thing– Bring back States rights as a balance to the power of the overreaching Fed government. When the Senators were elected directly by the people, the States were effectively neutralized. House–by the people, Senate–by the State, and President through popular vote and then through the Electoral system. Also– cut much of the money line to the Federal government. Bring everything down to the local government. If it can’t be done by the county or town, then use the State. The Federal has defined powers– protect the US with the military, trade agreements– (can’t remember off the top of the head what the third one is)… Get rid of many of those overreaching Departments. Get rid of most of the Executive orders that are mostly illegal..

                      and so forth– Don’t despair…
                      Teach as many people as you can about capitalism and the real freedom afforded by the Constitution. Plus we have forgotten the evils of tyranny and monarchies.

                      Plus if you have the talent to tell stories like some here do– tell stories that teach of humanity’s greatness. At the very least pull out your Aesop fairytales and read them to your children and grandchildren if you have them.

                      So here it is–

                    6. Patriarchy is bad. It has nothing on matriarchy. Every matriarchal system in the world has a body count of infants. And we’re seeing it here too.

                    7. She is wedded to convictions—in default of grosser ties;
                      Her contentions are her children, Heaven help him who denies!—
                      He will meet no suave discussion, but the instant, white-hot, wild,
                      Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child.

                      Unprovoked and awful charges—even so the she-bear fights,
                      Speech that drips, corrodes, and poisons—even so the cobra bites,
                      Scientific vivisection of one nerve till it is raw
                      And the victim writhes in anguish—like the Jesuit with the squaw!

                      It’s been a very Kipling day, for better or for worse.

                    8. Yes– which is why I advocate partnerships– with equal partners– I don’t like it when the guy treats the girl like a child or vice versa. 😉

                    9. Well, I don’t care what arrangements other people make. Their business. I wouldn’t stand for being patronized, though and THANK G-d I found a man who wouldn’t let me walk all over him. When we fight it’s like clash of Titans, but fortunately it’s pretty rare. (Now down to may once every couple of years.)

                4. Your arguments against solitary confinement and execution are value judgments which you have failed to support. Assuming that which you need to prove is a logical fallacy which renders all development based upon those premises invalid.

                  Dressing it up in emotive language is just pathetic.

                    1. Your answer is non-responsive and irrelevant. Your assertion about “all human societies” is an assumption which does not accord your assertion of a particular unexpressed value system any substance.

                      The question was not whether solitary confinement was unpleasant and something to avoid. Your premise was unsupported, therefore your arguments logically invalid. Pounding the table harder does not make your argument more valid.

                      Saying you can “play along with the logic idea” while eschewing logic does not constitute a valid argument.

                    2. All human societies and judgements are based on emotion,every moral system,every judgement system is a emotional in nature.

                      No; that is refuted by the existence of logical systems, and how many human systems go against emotion.

                    3. I was thinking of keeping track of how often you used a “No True Scotsman” fallacy … but I ran out of fingers and toes.

    1. I recently read an article talking about the different aims of punishment, such as retribution, deterrence, and rehabilitation. It admitted that most people preferred retribution, but that did not cause criminals to stop offending — i.e., they were rehabilitated, even though that was not the aim chosen.

      1. I think most people prefer retribution because they instinctively understand that it’s justice for victims. That it shows society valued them more than the victimizer, that it restores a balance that was thrown off by violence.

        I’m not saying that rehabilitation isn’t a worthy goal, but its side effect is that it denies the humanity of the victim.

        1. Also, not talking about first offenders and three pennies from mom’s purse, though I’ll point out what rehabilitated me (at three) was punishment and threat of worse next time, but when dealing with criminals at a certain level, one thing we’ve learned is that they’re VERY GOOD at making it seem like they’re repentant/rehabilitated and giving do-gooders the warm fuzzies. For some criminals there seems to be NO way of rehabilitating them.
          One oft expressed idea in Agatha Christie was that once you’ve taken a human life other than in self defense or war, you CAN’T be rehabilitated. I’m not sure she’s not right. Once you view a living, breathing, real person’s death at your hands as a means to an end, you’ve crossed some threshold. I’m not sure there’s a way back. (Possible exceptions made for the very young and very mad, see Anne Perry)

          1. As you say, sometimes retribution and deterrence can be packaged together quite thriftily. And both reinforce the common moral code–maybe it doesn’t “take” in the hardened criminal, but it reinforces it in every one who watches.

            I suspect most people would support rehabilitation if it came after the retribution and occurred mostly by the criminal’s efforts–ie, *they* have to fight to re-establish their place and good name, rather than . the rest of us being told we have to accept them.

            1. As I’ve told my kids. It takes seconds to destroy your reputation, and years to rebuild it.
              Offenders can and sometimes should be given the opportunity to make amends. Onlookers should be approving – but watchful. The offender has lost the easy respect they were given before; now they have to find out what a tremendous gift it had been.

          2. Someone should quote from Starship Troopers, where Johnny Rico explains why they had to execute the killer. If he couldn’t be rehabilitated we needed to kill him, and if he ever realized what he did, he would have to kill himself. I was about 10 when I read that and it made sense to me then (and stil ldoes now.)

          3. I’ve been bothered by the case of Jim Gordon since I first heard of it. Gordon was the drummer of Derek and the Dominos and many of my favorite late Sixties early to mid Seventies rock albums. He suffered more and more severely from scizophrenia, till the voices told him to kill his mother and he obeyed. He went to prison in spite of the fact that everyone agreed he was utterly mad and not responsible for his actions (by legal standards, I hasten to add). He’s in a specialist psychiatric prison, and we are likely better off, he’s likely better off, for his being there, but what bothers me is that it’s certain he’s there only because he was convicted in between the many changes in California’s penal laws. He got caught in the window and he’s still there.

            1. These cases always bug me.

              If a mafia boss tells you to kill your mother, you’re guilty. If an imaginary voice tells you, why would you be innocent?

              1. Well, it’s by comparision. You get a sentence of let-me-talk-mean-to-you for a moment or you get a sentence of forever. The creep who murdered Dominique Dunne got a sentence of a few months and he almost got no prison time at all. Also in California. There it’s craps, do you get the short straw or the long straw. Did anyone notice that the judge is committing another atrocity here.

                1. And they have a few private agreements. Charles Manson and his gang… “we cannot ever ever let any of them out. We must twist the law if needs be. If we let Charly or his girls out the people will crucify US.”

              2. Mens Rea.

                The notion is that to be *guilty* you must have the capacity to know better. Someone who is schizophrenic, so the theory goes, can’t distinguish right from wrong, and therefore cannot be held accountable for their actions.

                IMO, this is a reasonable position. It’s what comes next that is problematic. Some folks would take the position that since they were unable to know right from wrong that punishing them would be immoral. This is probably also correct. However we still must make sure that these people cannot kill or injure again.

                As near as I can tell we’re pretty sure that certain mental illnesses are structural conditions of the brain, and we *cannot* fix them. The question then is can we house this person in reasonable safety and comfort until such time as we either can fix them, or they die. If we cannot, then we kill them. It’s not capital punishment, it’s not the death penalty, it’s self defense or “pro-active” defense of society.

                1. Instead, we’re going from “they’re crazy and don’t know what they’re doing” to “so we’ll turn them out on the street until they do big enough crimes, lock them away for those, rinse and repeat.”

                  1. Well, it is more compassionate and it helps give the voters a reason to vote for the next bond issue for public safety.

                    1. ….putting them out to be victimized by their own brain defects, and anybody else who is looking for an easy victim, is more compassionate than locking them away or helping them?

                    2. Plus it creates jobs — remember, the strongest proponents of California’s “-Strike” rule was the prison guard union.

                      So politicians not only get to award construction contracts to loyal supporters, err, public-spirited contractors, they get to deliver jobs and pensiions to hard-working blue-collar state employees.

                      Anybody know what the hourly cost (including benefits and pension funds) for California prison guards might be, or what educational and other requirements are required?

                    3. Foxfier, I’ve got to learn to couch my bitter sarcasm so it is more obvious. Sorry about that.

                      I get screaming mad when I see the panhandlers and loons clotting up the on-ramps and waiting under bridges. I know that some politician has done the vile calculus and come up with the conclusion that this is the best way to push the voting public into voting more taxes on themselves to protect themselves from the part of the population that the pols have failed to do anything about in the first place -and won’t do anything about after they get your taxes because that would end the cycle.
                      We (as the taxable public) wind up running around and around like Li’l (black) Sambo’s tigers until we wind up melting into butter.

                2. The question is whether they do, in fact, know right from wrong. Given the only cited thing was that they hear voices — that’s not being unable to tell right from wrong.

                  1. When you believe that *GOD* is telling you to do something, you DO it. By definition anything that God would tell you to do is right.

                    1. The test, as I remember it, is that if God tells you do something and you do it you may be beyond reason, but if your Dog tells you to do something it’s not like you are going to listen to just any dog.

          4. Not precisely random thoughts but any conclusions drawn will be disavowed.

            ““If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination……..”

            But as always there’s a strong element of semantics there going back to the debate over thou shalt not kill or is it murder language from antiquity.

            For an interesting approach to the distinction see the various stories of Jim Cerillo (some SF connections from other folks at the Federal Training center in GA) and a hunting background being consistent with applying rules to killing. Some couldn’t do it and some liked it too much and some hit a Goldilocks Condition. Much the same discussion when Matt Helm is hired by Mac in the fiction by Donald Hamilton.

            Given an existential threat (and one can always be found) so that the end tends to demand extraordinary means I suppose I’d participate in a gauntlet, even organize one, rather than run one – but it’s a tough decision going beyond saying this person is indeed an it in the abstract to blackening everybody involved.

            It’s surely better to consider such things in advance for in the moment it’s easy to go astray. For myself I won’t hold myself to any given abstract when making such decisions and I’ve been to law school so I can say this instance is different and rationalize distinctions with the best or worst of them – pick both.

            For all I know in some alternate world Slovik was honored for his IMHO very real contribution to the American war effort – his blank check if you will was cashed in an unusual way so be it – and some say Judas was the hero of the Zealots.

            When the State says you are all Spartacus that’s a different thing and takes a lot of mileposts.

        2. It also denies the humanity of the criminal. To make someone over to suit our notions against his will is a very wicked notion. If you make it first and foremost retribution, you can justify it on the grounds that it is punishment, that he has forfeited his right to not be meddled with because of his guilt.

          Indeed, in our prisons today, wrongly convicted people spend longer in jail than the actually guilty, because we refuse, in the name of rehabilitation, to let them out unless they say they did it.

      2. deterrence will do, but sometimes just stopping the guy from doing it again is the only thing you can aim for, and there’s only one SURE way to do that. I.e. to quote Pratchett, you set a pit with sharpened stakes at the bottom to catch a thief.

        1. While I’m not particularly supportive of capital punishment (you can’t un-kill a wrongly convicted person), and many people claim it does not function as a deterrent, there is one thing you can’t deny: Executed criminals have a 0% recidivism rate.

          1. I would support capital punishment if I trusted the justice system (in any country) more, but right now it doesn’t necessarily seem to work very well anywhere, often it seems it’s more of a game of one-upmanship between the players, in all of its stages, than a genuine effort to find the truth, plus in those places where there is lots of crime simple lack of time and other resources can make the whole thing seem rather haphazard. Maybe, with developing forensic science things will get better. Or perhaps there should be some consequences (not as maybes but as a matter of course) for the people involved in those cases where the investigation or the trial were in some ways messed up and this can be proven – except of course the end result with that could be to make the systems fail in worse ways that they do now, with extra time and resources spent in trials trying to decide whether some past failure would have been preventable then or not.

            And yes, there would presumably be more resources if there were fewer and a bit simpler (as maybe can understand even without a law degree) laws…

            But even in a very good system I think I’d reserve it for cases like repeat offenders, serial killers or the like, those people who most likely would continue to be a danger to others. And the proof for that punishment should be really, really good – even if the crime is really heinous, but it can’t be proven without no doubt that the person accused is the one who did it it would be, I think, better to keep the person in jail rather than to kill, just in case some new evidence might come up later.

        2. Well – to ALSO quote pratchett a la “Going postal” – when the hangman was asked by the prospective hangee if he thought that capital punishment was a deterrent, the hangman replied that in the general case of stopping others, he didn’t know, but that in the specific case of an individual criminal, he’d never seen someone he hung back on the gallows for another crime.

          1. please note this is not blanket approval of the death penalty by any stretch…

            1. Well, strictly speaking, I’d think that the only death penalty proponents who would be okay with ‘blanket approval’ would be those willing to see anyone and everyone dead. Greens in other words. 🙂

              Seriously, I’m pretty strongly in favor of the death penalty, and there are people I don’t want dead, people I’d like to see dead who I don’t want executed, and people I’d only want to see executed if due process is followed.

    2. Tom, as a practicng, born again Christian, I have to resent the terminology used.
      From a practical, personal viewpoint, I have to agree totally, and I might even suggest some niceties to make the punishment a little more — agonizing.
      Such is the dichotomy of my life. But then, the God of my bible saw the Canaanites as beyond redemption, and told the Israelites to destroy them, their wives and children, and even their livestock. And as the record shows, they didn’t, and it came back to bite them in the asses.
      I’ve seen people make dramatic changes in their lives, so I know it is possible. And I’ve seen some who claimed to have changed, but it was obvious that they were merely waiting and watching.
      You can’t assume everyone is redeemable. (I’m using the term in the strict sense, not a religious one)
      And sometimes, as surgeons will demonstrate, you need to cut the cancer out of the body public, in order for the body to survive and thrive.
      So I’d suggest the term Romanizing. They were the ones practicing crucifixion, after all.

      1. C. S. Lewis once asked a question about the death penalty that I would really like to get an answer to: is a murderer more likely to make a good end when executed or living out his natural life?

        1. More pertinent: Who is more likely to commit another murderer: one imprisoned “for life” who could escape or be paroled, or one put to death?

        2. There are no easy answers when it comes to a death penalty. As we’ve seen too often lately, often the wrong man or woman is convicted. Often the prosecuting attorney is playing a political game. And often – too often – the crime committed is so horrendous that the public wants someone punished, and an unscrupulous DA gives them a scapegoat.
          This is where a strong check and balance system needs to be put into place. Perhaps a year delay after conviction before the sentencing takes place. Perhaps a waiting period for any DA seeking higher office before that can run again.
          But I have no solutions. I only know that the system is cracked and needs repairs

          1. The system is made of humans. “Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made”

          2. I favor keeping the death penalty, but removing a great deal of Prosecutorial Immunity. I would, in fact, favor charging a prosecutor who broke the rules on evidence (among other things) in order to obtain a conviction on a capitol charge with conspiracy to commit murder (using The State as the murder weapon). I suspect that the knowledge that getting caught withholding evidence from the defense, or other such douchbaggery, could see THEM sent to the hot seat would do wonders for Prosecutorial honesty.

            1. I rather favor any attempt to use the law to harass and/or kill others be treated as any other attempt to do it; SWATing, framing, etc.

            2. When any officer of the State abuses the power entrusted that constitutes a crime against the State, undermining the legitimate authority held in the State. Such abuse ought carry severe penalties.

              For such abuses as described the errant prosecutor deserves the same penalty sought for the accused.

              Any officer of the government (such as an Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, to pick a f’rinstance) proven to have lied to the Congress or the Courts in sworn testimony, ought forever be enjoined against higher office requiring Congressional Advice & Consent. Some things need to be known to be career killers.

    3. You may remember me from the Kratskeller.

      I’m in favor of capital punishment for the common law capital felonies.

    4. Waste of time and effort.

      Shoot them in the back of the head and dump them in an unmarked grave.

        1. No, no I did not.

          I think that public executions are both a waste of time and effort AND exactly the wrong sort of public spectacle for the government to engage in.

          One does not make a spectacle or a public event out of garbage collection. One does it, and washes ones hands and goes back to work.

          1. Yes, but read the description of the public execution in Starship Troopers. Also the vampire killing scene in Carpe Jugulum. Sometimes you have to know the monster is DEAD.

          2. You are welcome to go ahead and think that. You are even welcome to quote the common BS on children picking pockets at the hangings of pickpockets. (Doesn’t mean remotely what it’s taken to mean.) But it’s kind of hard to argue against the objective evidence that, after Crassus crucified 6600 or so rebellious slaves along the Appian Way, Rome had no more servile insurrections.

  2. I remember just after the Columbine shootings when everyone was asking how those boys could do such a thing, and my answer was simply, “No one ever told them it was wrong.”

    They knew what they were doing was unlawful, of course, but they had planned from the beginning to take their own lives, so they knew that they wouldn’t be tried and sent to jail. Their upbringing had been so carefully value neutral that no one had ever told them that murder is against the state’s laws because it is inherently wrong.

    We all have choices. We can choose to do what is right, or we can choose to do what is wrong. However, in order to do so we need to understand that there is an absolute standard of right and wrong beyond “wrong is when you get caught.”

    1. Like. You are right Sarsh, we really need a “Like” button on this blog.

    2. Do you have evidence that they were never told that killing a bunch of other kids is wrong?

      1. Only that moral relativism is the basis of modern education, and has been since Horace Mann. Teachers today tell students that there are no right or wrong answers, that what they feel is the only basis for morality. That’s how you raise children to become sociopaths.

        1. No, it’s not. Sociopaths, largely, are born not made.

          And you do not know how those children were raised at home.

          1. Um… actually we don’t KNOW that. That is just the latest theory. The born, not made. T he fact that it’s made by the sort of people who think ALL your choices, including political are also “born, not made” does NOT fill me with confidence in their judgement. I think it’s ideological, frankly. “most people can’t choose. T hey need wise leaders”

  3. Of course I read this post immediately after reading an article about another anti-sexual harassment officer (can’t remember the official title off-hand) being investigated for alleged sexual assault. A bunch of democrats on the hill of course are immediately calling for more oversight of the military justice system. Personally I think the vast majority of these cases are whiny little..Ahem… who know that if they even threaten to scream rape they can get away with all sorts of things, and when someone with a backbone tells them exactly what sort of special snowflake they are, they carry through with the threat. They don’t see anything wrong with ruining someone else’s life and career with false allegations, because they are too self-centered to care.
    That being said, those that are actually guilty of sexual assault (which does not mean staring to long at a womans assets, that she obviously paid good money to make stareworthy) should be, as Tom said, Christianized.

    Funny thing, nobody ever suggests that forbidding women and gays from serving would vastly reduce the number of such charges. I’m not saying this is the proper course of action, but the fact that nobody ever even suggests an obvious solution, shows how emasculated and politically correct our military leaders have become.

    1. I worked in a mainly male electronics repair shop in the Navy. The guys there knew what would happen if someone tried a sexual “assault,” but there is always one guy. He walked up behind me and pulled me into his crotch (yes in full view of everyone). I dropped him with one rake to the tender places. He was on the floor screaming and I saw the two first classes (E-6) laughing in the doorway. They told me that he had bragged that he could hit that– pointing at me. Of course they knew me really well and were there to see it happen. So after that incident no one bothered me. (Once again my motto– make it hurt the first time and their won’t be a second time.)

      Yes– some of the girls had the morning after blues. I did talk to an E-5 who was support at Desert Storm and talked about rape. Since she was a hard worker and did her job well– I believed her. It is the adrenaline factor in those cases– The women in those units become camp followers– sometimes the women enjoy it and sometimes it is rape, which is why I don’t agree with having women in combat zones even as support personnel. My opinion only–

      Because I didn’t give warning before striking (the first story), for some reason the young men I worked with had confidence in me and would come to me for advice. 😉 As an E-5 I ran a twenty-man shop.

      1. Amen, sister veteran.Make it hurt the first time, never a second time. I always favored the direct approach to a harasser/guy-being-crude. No need to involve anyone else; not my supervisor, social actions, or any circle-of-womyn whining for special treatment. Just hand them their balls on a plate, tastefully ornamented with some springs of parsley, graciously accept their apology, and expect them to work well with me from then on.

        1. I remember reading, many decades ago, of a woman in San Antonio who came home one night – after Bible Study IIRC – and was attacked as she opened her apartment door. She was on her back, the perp was ready to penetrate, and she reached down, grabbed his jewels, and tried to drag them up to his throat.
          He passed out, and after she extricated herself she called the police. While waiting for their arrival, the perp regained consciousness, but the pain was still so great he passed out again.
          I grieve for any woman placed in the position of being victimized, but I cheer those who WILL NOT be made victims.

          1. According to the anthro books, Shawnee women made a practice of doing this to Shawnee men who annoyed them. This assisted in maintaining the general level of respect between Shawnee men and women. It’s probably also the reason why Shawnee women had the final say on who married them.

            Anyway… if you respond quickly and decisively, you’ve made your point and nobody can mistake it. If the man is a serious predator, it gives you a chance to get away; and if the man is just an idiot or drunk, you teach him a valuable lesson that will serve him throughout life.

      2. I had a guy try something like that at an airport as I was washing “my” plane. He had bad target selection skills, because I spun around, water sprayer in hand, and almost blinded him permanently (goooood water pressure that early in the AM). The jerk got no sympathy from anyone, including the most traditional “women should stay at home and raise kids” pilot at the field. And none of us ladies, including the secretaries, had any trouble with anyone after that. 🙂

            1. No– I didn’t see it. Email address – cynbagley at hotmail dot com
              I am not sure if it disappeared in the digital void or if I accidentally erased it… but I don’t remember seeing it

  4. The would-be controllers just LOVE to blame things on Capitalism. They hate the idea that the little people should be allowed to make decisions for themselves.

      1. Bingo. A vibe I frequently get from many professional scolds is outrage that just anybody might somehow enjoy one of the same pleasures they enjoy. How can they be special if their lives aren’t exclusive?

      2. …while implementing solutions only one’s BETTERS should be allowed to implement or even talk about.

        Speaking of which… Sarah, sent an elevator pitch to your blogtourinvites email address, on just this sort of thing. “You have mail.”

  5. You know how half story ideas can hang around forever?

    Here’s one — free to a good home!

    In a novel, all the characters were affected by some disaster in the past. Every one will say that was a formative experience, and that’s why I turned out X. For a large variety of X’s, of course.

    The closest I’ve come is a novel where a number of characters attribute their current lives to certain incidents about the heroine’s mother’s wedding.

      1. Picking your situation and your past event is tricky, which is why it’s hung around me for so long without becoming a full fledged story.

  6. The Freudian narrative (childhood trauma = adult dysfunction) has lodged itself in our collective minds, and all the efforts of neuroscience and modern psychology can’t blast it loose.

    The problem — authors take note, here — is that the Freudian paradigm of mental illness and treatment is a dead solid perfect dramatic story. A person is suffering: addiction, inability to love, uncontrollable criminal urges, whatever. That person consults with a wise and understanding figure (Yoda, Merlin, Sigmund Freud, Robin Williams). They eventually achieve self-knowledge and discover the childhood trauma at the root of their suffering. Then they either confront the person who caused it, or perform some other cathartic act, and the suffering is at an end.

    Authors and dramatists have been using that template since Ibsen. It works — in skilled hands it works VERY VERY well. It produces good drama, which is why it remains the standard.

    And unfortunately it’s utterly wrong. Traumas don’t infallibly cause dysfunction (often there’s a detectable, physical brain malfunction involved). Self-examination doesn’t reveal the true single cause of problems (sometimes it reveals what the therapist wishes to be true). And catharsis doesn’t resolve problems (often the patient wants to keep reliving the experience of catharsis, prolonging the problems or making them worse).

    But because it makes for good drama, it’s everywhere in fiction (even superhero movies). And consequently everyone “knows” it to be true. One thing I’ve promised myself is that I will never use that particular formula in a novel.

    1. Well, all my characters are traumatized — most people are but also I like torturing characters. it makes them bigger than life. Shut up. And don’t tell Him I said that. At any rate He already knows it and is probably laughing — but the only one where it might be one of the contributing causes for whom he becomes (Athena’s father) and the evil he does, it’s not a single cause and he might have been a wrongun anyway. The cause he keeps citing as an excuse is demonstrably false and only came about because he was already being insanely evil.

      1. Ghod will get you for that young Portagee.
        In fact given the tales of your recent day to day life I’d say He already has.
        But as they say He only gives us what we can bear, and then only to make us stronger. Pity being strong is such a beyatch, ain’t it though.

  7. ” Once you accept the idea that common humanity or not, there are people who aren’t “people” as such… You let the monster out.”

    On that subject, one of my favorite passages from Pratchett’s “Carpe Jugulum”:

    “It is not as simple as that. It’s not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray.”

    “Nope.”

    “Pardon?”

    “There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”

    “It’s a lot more complicated than that–”

    “No it ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”

    “Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes-”

    “But they *starts* with thinking about people as things…”

      1. Amazing how Sir Pratchett keeps coming around to basic, solid truths from an odd direction, no? Even when it’s against his inclinations.

  8. I’m not claiming that Pratchett’s definition here is a theological masterpiece, by any means 🙂 I do think that “people as things” is a remarkably good check on whether or not you’re straying into territories that a soul should not wander through.

      1. Don’t cross the threads! It could mean the end of the world as we know it!

        On Wed, May 15, 2013 at 9:01 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

        > ** > Samrobb commented: “Well, shoot. The above was intended to be a reply > to Mary. Sorry for muddling the threads.” >

          1. Great – NOW you’ve done it! You have given them justification to shut us down: “endangering all reality as we wish it known.”

        1. Don’t cross the threads! It could mean the end of the world as we know it!

          Nah, just a big knot. Of course, others WILL notice, as my wife keeps telling me.

  9. I never fully bought into the “if we just got rid of capitalism” – it didn’t compute. I was an history geek, and I knew how the other systems stacked up.

    *grumble* I’m slowly coming around to the perspective that acting like “capitalism” is a system is giving too much ground to those who want to impose systems or schemes– what they’re calling “capitalism” is no system at all.

    Bigger jump between “impose a system on this thing that works fine with no system involved” vs “change systems.”

    1. Capitalism never was a system. The early industrialists, who came up with the processes and owned the capital equipment (classified in modern day as stuff costing over $2000), didn’t really have a coherent intellectual framework because because that was mostly outside their interests, and a distraction from what they were trying to do. They borrowed that stuff from law, religion, and various other sources, where they needed it. The early workers were heavily off the farms, didn’t start with the background in industry for a framework, and maybe had better things to do. At least in America, the ones with enough of an interest in and aptitude for the stuff probably ended up industrialists themselves.

      Fresh off the farms meant a certain learning curve in terms of not being drunk, and not being injured by, or wrecking the machines, that would not help the industrialists predict what a worker population with less to learn would be like. There’s probably a max of two or three generations in industrialization where one can not have that information and not run into problems.

      Labor theory was formed by intellectuals who had the background, funding/time, and interest in such things, but did not have the aptitudes and interests to become industrialists, and hence could not understand the full picture, even if they wanted to. Hence, it has certain issues.

      ‘Capitalism’ was essentially formed from the intellectual space being polarized by the development of labor theory. This means that all sorts of things get put under the umbrella, from crony capitalism to various sorts of notions contaminated by socialism and communism. I was told that there was a particularly destructive management fad that goes back to the sixties, and my parsing of it sees communist influence. It doesn’t really have theory that can be learned intellectually. The closest that comes to it is the awareness that can come from practicing business without blinders.

        1. There were a fair amount of subsistence farmers in America at the time.

          I’ve got reservations about whether some of the business scale farms of the manual labor pre-industrial era should be considered capitalism. That said, that may be simple ignorance and nitpicking speaking.

          Furthermore, keep in mind the extent to which farming was altered during industrialization by industrialization. Prior to, probably most of the capital was land and maybe livestock, without a whole lot of complex machines.

          (A hoe, or an axe is a couple of simple machines, but it they aren’t exactly a lathe or a mill, much less something really complicated. There are potential differences of skillsets and mindsets involved.)

          Not to mention, in Europe and elsewhere, the labor situation, with serfs and slaves where serfdom and slavery were practiced. Even for, say, peasants or yeoman, farming by manual labor is a lot of hard dangerous work. A population that rates industrial workplace risks and effort relative to other industrial workplaces will have significantly different conclusions from one which compares them to manual farming.

          1. There were a fair amount of subsistence farmers in America at the time.

            That’s why I said pure subsistence– because the term is also used to mean “barely getting by.” People traded– they had to so they could hire hands. Sometimes “hiring” just meant that the neighbors sent their sons over to help with butchering or harvest, but there was exchange of goods and services plus there was was hiring, so it’s capitalism.

            The advantage of the industrial work is that you’re unlikely to starve after working all year.

            1. Actually, subsistence farming began dying with the invention of the steel plow (circa 1840, IIRC). It became so much easier to turn earth — even the prairies with ten feet of grass roots — that farming began to be a sustainable lifestyle. My grandfather, when he was younger, was a subsistence farmer, in that his main reason for farming was to feed and clothe his family and supply them with what they needed. He worked as a lumberjack most of the late fall and winter to provide money to buy what he couldn’t raise. There were tens of thousands of others like him, and in fact, in some parts of the South, still are. They don’t farm for a living (can’t make it), but for food on the table. Most of the farm families from the turn of the century until the late 1940s also had large families, so they had farm hands (sons, or the folks that married his daughters, if he was lucky). My mom and dad supplemented my dad’s income by growing vegetables, raising rabbits, having a cow or two, and during my high school years, my raising pigs as a 4H project. A third of what we raised went to my grandmother, or others of my family that were having a hard time. I wish I could do that today, but between my health and the shortage of water in Colorado, it’s just not feasible.

              1. Which would support my point that folks just off the farm were not new to “capitalism.”

                Very cool to hear about, though.

                1. Mainly, I was trying to assert that when all farm work is either manual implements or animals, and time management suited for same, it doesn’t prepare one well for working in shifts on, say, a mechanical loom running on water power.

                  I would assert that there was a good sized learning curve, and that it took time for populations in general, rural and city, rich and poor, to develop an institutional experience. Look how long it was before Kipling wrote Secrets of the Machines. Compare, say, knowledge of computer programming, and how far it has penetrated into society.

                  1. Different demands I’d totally agree with– it’s the idea that capitalism was a new idea to the average farm kid that I object to. Industrial demands on scheduling are MUCH different than “everybody be at the Smith place about half an hour before sunrise for a cold breakfast before we work until everything is done.”

                    It’s assembly line vs knowing the whole job… oh, booger, what’s the thing where you teach each person to do one or a handful of things, so you only have to teach them a tiny bit and anybody can do it? It’s used on an assembly line, I think it fits what you were talking about better.

                    1. I know what you are talking about, I think I even heard the formal name back when I was reading up more on industrial/process/manufacturing engineering. Breaking the process into tasks, assigning tasks to a station, and having instructions for the station. Those disciplines are actually a good chunk of what I was thinking about when I was talking about things developed since the start of the industrial revolution.

                      Some of the stuff that is done these days, at least when the people involved know what they are doing, amounts to a unified system that does both capital and labor, and looks like it might be outside of the scope of what the early industrialists could figure out from the background they hand.

              2. I count steel plow as being part of the process of industrialization. Yes, steel was available before, but industry made it cheaper. I don’t know the exact prices, but the steel plow, and some of the other mechanisms in mind, would seem to be examples of capital equipment that one purchases to help boost productivity, of a cash crop, the increased proceeds of which go to ‘paying off’ the cost of the purchase.

            2. Ah, I see where the issue is.

              You are talking about a free market economy.

              I was using capitalism to mean something else.

              There is a factory, where an investors supplied money to an innovator, who bought or had built equipment to allow a novel process. Who owns it? If you say the investors don’t, good luck getting further rounds of investment funding. If you say the innovator doesn’t, good luck getting future people with drive, imagination, and engineering skills to come up with new stuff. If you say the workers don’t, well, in early stages of industrialization, when farms were neither as mechanized nor as finance heavy as they would get later, especially in cases the former farmworkers had been in situations that did not promote productivity, it turned out there weren’t much immediate consequences. Once the population of industrial workers* got its feet under it, and got big enough, then it could add enough to make pissing it off a problem.

              In a modern farm, the worker and the innovator are the same.

              *As farms industrialized, the farm boys coming off them became more mechanically adept. These days, well, I hear the farmers tend to raise a lot of the children with greater mechanical aptitude.

              1. I assure you, even without a lot of mechanization a big farm and/or ranch has a very high level of financing involved, especially in terms of animal husbandry focused ones, and that those folks who lived on small home farms but hired on for the few extremely work intensive times of the year would be familiar with that.

                1. Earlier, I had to tune back some of what I thought about saying because I started to realize some of these issues. (For ex, I know very little about how manors worked. Who had the money? Who made the business decisions? I don’t know.) By financing, I was talking about deprecation on capital equipment such as tractors and combines, as that is a part of what little I know about finance that I am more familiar with. I suppose that cash crop farming in England during the 1600s and 1700s must have had finance involved, because I’m pretty sure the British had a solid banking system by then. I would wonder how much some third or fourth son would’ve known of this, but that doesn’t make my argument fundamentally more sound.

                  You have a definite point about the live stock issue. I’ve probably carelessly let my interest in and knowledge of the mechanical side of capital equipment cloud my thinking.

                  The rest of what I can say here is trying to quibble about exactly the proportions of the folks coming in from the farms were, and what exactly they might know about how things were run. This is stupid of me, as I’m very ignorant of the demographics, and the different farming systems involved. I couldn’t speak to the extent of, say, serfdom, or how many serfs ended up in factories.

                  1. Serfdom ended in most places in Europe a fair bit before factories and the Industrial Revolution, mostly because of the Black Death and various political goings-on. (Places like Russia and Romania and Japan actually did go straight from serfdom to factories, and of course places like the US and Saudi did slavery to factory too. Although Saudi still has slavery, really.)

                    Now, in many places the farmers were not “yeomen” who owned their own farms, but “tenant farmers” or sharecroppers of various stripes. This isn’t so far off from serfdom, but you’re not tied to the land as a piece of its equipment.

                    1. I thought I had heard that Russia and Poland had serfdom still into industrialization. Kinda doubt that Polish and Russian serfs made it to America during that period in great numbers, but what do I know?

                      ‘tenant farmers’, that is the name for one of the concepts I was struggling with. Thanks.

                  2. FWIW, I have no idea about the manor system– I just know that the time/availability/work input for big operations is really big, and that every area I’ve looked in has a bunch of little farms and at least one really big operation, and that’s true in all the times and places I’ve looked.

                    Major props for going “oops, over-commited”0- that takes guts and a great deal of honesty.

                    1. Frankly, after I finished my attempted correction, I was concerned that I didn’t go far enough. It was probably about the best that I could do in the time I had, but I’m still not entirely satisfied.

                      I want to be able to think clearly, and to use words well. (This is for, say, Doc Smith standards.)

                      Part of seeking this is being responsible for my own words. If I’m joking, I need to be clear about that. If I’m unclear, clarify. If I’ve left out the supporting arguments, expand. If I think I’m correct, have articulated things well and as I intended, I must stand by that. If I’m mistaken…

                      I’ve been wrong before, am probably wrong about things now, and will be wrong in the future. If knowing the truth of things is important for me, than I must always be seeking to better understand the error of the instruments.

        2. Even rather recently, farmers often raised their own food rather than rely purely on crops in order to buffer the dangers of bad markets.

          1. I know, both of my parents did it, and my grandparents and godparents grew up on farms or ranches or whatever you call the central location sheepcamps spread out from– they ranged from corn farmers and sheepherds (well off) to farm-hand-that-was-mostly-paid-in-room-and-board. (not so much)

          2. The academics call it “safety-first agriculture.” I’ve talked to farmers who did it well into the 1970s. If the cash crop failed, at least the family could eat. In fact, in the ag newspapers and journals from the late 1800s and early 1900s, the editors encouraged people moving into the Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico to practice “stock farming” as a form of safety-first agriculture. Farmers should have big gardens, along with wheat for cash, and raise some pigs, chickens, and cattle. And some editors recommended growing sorghum even in good years (when it rained), so there would be seed on hand for the dry years.

    2. Capitalism is not an ideology, it’s an analysis of the world. Every economic system is a patch on capitalism to get some desired result.

      1. It’s neither– it’s simply what you get when there’s no system being imposed. I can do stuff, which makes stuff, and then do what’want with that stuff.
        I’m of course going to protect that stuff (protections on private property)

        For ease of talking about it, I can justify talking about the “system” of capitalism, but it’s like talking about the color scheme of a glass house that hasn’t been painted so that you can contrast it to ones with lots of paint.

        1. Or the labor theorists making up a strawman to be against, because the folks they wanted a fight with didn’t care to spend the time thinking up a comprehensive thing in academicese.

          I’m an anti-communist. I oppose their style of interventionist schemes in the economy.

          As for capitalism, I don’t know what it is. I’m not so accomplished a business man that I think I have a really solid grasp of all that stuff.

          1. *nod* That’s part of why I say it’s not really a system– it’s just what’s there before the communists, or whatever spawn show up, try to tell everybody what to do.

            Folks have been hiring folks to work for them for ages– heck, in the Bible the master that gave his servants a gold talent(sp?) or the ones that were hiring works for the orchards sure as heck had the means of production while the folks they hired had only their own labor to sell!

            It took me a while to realize that employees don’t just get paid for their labor– they don’t have to deal with the mental and emotional issues involved in being in charge, and if a situation is stable enough they even have income security. The owner may make a much bigger profit on average, but they have to do all the planning work, plus they’re the last to get paid.

          2. I think it was Hazlett who defined capitalism as what spontaneously occurs when the people participating are left alone to do it.
            He was big on self assembling human systems.

            1. Makes sense. Humans were being humans for centuries before folks showed up and started trying to define everything as a “system.”

  10. Sorry – Capitalism, Free Markets, Democracy whatever you call it – is the basis for Evil* in this world. Such a system allows individuals to act upon their own wills, to move freely through life instead of subordinating their urges and desires to the Greater Good. How could it NOT be an avenue for the expression of human Evil?

    It is also the source of most of what is Good in this world, because absent free choice there is no Good, there is merely obeying orders.

    Because we have Free Will there is Good and there is Evil. Limiting Choice limits Evil; expanding the opportunities for Choice increases opportunities for Evil.

    *Evil is in part a matter of definition. Define it as “acting in your own interests rather than on behalf of society,” or as “doing what you want to do instead of what I want you to do,” or “treating people as things” and you get very different results.

    1. Treating people as things rather than as human beings. That gets right to it, doesn’t it? It’s a nice rephrasing of the second great commandment: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (With the implication that you shouldn’t treat yourself as a mere thing any more than you treat someone else as a thing.)
      The nature of the world we live in is such that people are granted moral agency – free to choose their actions. What we are seeing in the culture is the natural consequence of actions – of choices. Because that’s what moral agency is really about – you’re free to choose your actions, but you have to also accept the consequences of those actions. Maybe that’s what needs to be emphasized more in our culture – actions lead to results, choice leads to consequence, and ne’er the two shall part.
      Instead, increasing swaths of our culture want to follow the Austin Powers model: “…as long as people are still having promiscuous sex with many anonymous partners without protection while at the same time experimenting with mind-expanding drugs in a consequence-free environment, I’ll be sound as a pound!”

    2. That’s not the “basis for Evil”. The basis for evil is what causes it. Capitalism just doesn’t provide inherent restraints on it. However it will sell you a .38 and you can solve the problem you own damn self.

  11. You notice BTW that those who want to severely punish the “victims” are never the victims of society themselves.

        1. You notice how any article lamenting how many women do not call themselves feminist never shows any sign that the writer actually, like, talked to any of those women. That would taint the purity of her knowledge.

          1. As the philosophes of Ancient Greece well knew, the first-rate mind was capable of reaching correct knowledge through the application of pure reason alone. Resort to experiment, research, inquiry and other such measures are the mark of inferior mentalities and taint the conclusions.

  12. I have to say I disagree with the idea that “it all starts with thinking you can get away with it”. I spend a reasonable chunk of my time working out ways to commit crimes and get away with it, because I have a horrible morbid mind. (Actually, when the facts were known about the Boston bombing, my first thought was “Incompetents”, and my next five minutes or so were spent thinking up plans that could have done more damage. This is just the way my mind works. >_>) I’m reasonably sure, did I wish to, I could do a lot of things that would benefit me in the short run, that were criminal and evil, that I could more or less easily get away with.

    I don’t, because I’m (at least something of) a moral person. Read for that what you will. But saying “it starts because people think they can get away with it” is a short step away from saying “people are only moral because of the threat of punishment”. Which isn’t (in my experience) a true statement, nor a particularly nice one; for one thing, it logically implies a lot of necessity for a strong, and hence potentially abusive, government.

    1. No. It’s the last defense against people who have no moral sense or feeling of moral responsibility. There will always be a number of them. If you have other stops, good for you. But some number of people don’t, and yes, fear of punishment (doesn’t have to be from the government trust me on this) or shunning, or whatever will deter you. The therapeutic approach OTOH DOESN’T.

      1. Well, most of us have a strong association between “crime” and “undesirable consequences for me.” For most of us, it goes a lot deeper than fear of getting caught. For people who never learned or who taught themselves not to take seriously the other bad consequences, getting caught is probably all they worry about. And of course, the Boston terrorists only worried about getting caught before wreaking maximum mayhem.

      2. Perhaps it comes down to “Because you can do a thing there is nothing wrong with doing that thing”?

        For people with that philosophy, fear of punishment is a deterrent.

        1. If they can get deterrents. . .

          One hallmark of sociopaths is lack of impulse control and foreseeing bad results. In a test in prison, regular criminals got nervous — measured by skin stuff — if they were told they would get a painful shock, and still more nervous the second time, after they knew how painful it was. Sociopaths? No reaction at all until it hit, even after they had been hit once.

          That’s why they should be “lock them up and throw away the key.”

    2. Actually, when the facts were known about the Boston bombing, my first thought was “Incompetents”, and my next five minutes or so were spent thinking up plans that could have done more damage.

      Mine was similar; I assumed the second must’ve been set off on accident, because it wasn’t even nearly long enough later to do maximum damage. Paying attention to terrorist tactics does that.

      That aside…
      Part of “getting away with it” is getting it past your internal punishment, too. If you can’t live with yourself if you do something, you can’t “get away” with doing it even if nobody ever knows.

  13. At that age, I think I would have considered you naive and wrong, about people being mistreated when young.

    See, I think I already well understood evil, from daycare experiences, from studying the world, and from self reflection.

    I plotted mental traits on an n-dimensional space, I guess by intuition, and saw that where I was existed as an island or peninsula in a sea of monsters. In other words, my point was just inside a small blob of maybe not being a monster, and I knew that being a monster was a short distance away.

    Part of the reason I trend socially conservative/reactionary is that I felt the necessity to impose rules on my self, so that I not be a monster in those ways, and to never endorse rape in word or deed. (If rape can truly never be just, then everything flows from that.) While other people are probably on other parts of the diagram, where things might not be so clear cut, if they refuse to impose rules on themselves, or if the rules they use are based on theories that necessarily endorse certain things, I must assume that they are living the way of monsters.

    Thus, I think there is a certain amount of choice.

    I think there is a certain amount of natural bent. Swinging towards pedophilia, cannibalism, or murder as an exclusive way of getting one’s jollies seems, thankfully, relatively rare.

    I think there is a certain amount of what is eliminated, punished, or encouraged.

    Nature or nurture, inborn, choice, developmental, environmental, personality, mental illness, I dunno.

    As I am not a mind reader, I must first judge people by their actions, followed by their words. For the paint labeled ‘monster’, I tend to use a pretty wide brush, whether for this society or any other. (The only way to not have a society is to have a collection of individuals who never work together, only prey on each other.)

    When practicing punishment/training and culling, to try and bring a less evil order to society, one doesn’t need a single cause to explain the evil of every person, nor does the evil of a person need to be, individually, assigned to a single cause. Yes, original sin and man’s fallen nature work well enough for that, but the issue is convincing people and coercing them not to do certain things.

    For any act, there are people all over the placed as to being convinced or coerced. If some will neither be convinced nor coerced, than either you live with them performing that act, or you kill them. (If kill is chosen, I prefer that the killer neither get their jollies from it nor otherwise particularly benefit from it. Bonus if the killer doesn’t decide things on their own, I like America’s system when done correctly.)

  14. I’ve always liked the comment from Raising Arizona about the question of Incarceration.

    “Now I don’t know how you come down
    On the incarceration question, whether it’s for rehabilitation or revenge. But I was beginning to think that revenge is the only argument makes any sense.”

    Currently prison isn’t much in the way of revenge.

    Are the victims of Ariel Castro getting much revenge by sending him to jail to be feed and taken care of for the rest of his life?

    It’s not that much different from being on welfare all your life. Sure prison life is very structured, more than most people care for. But you get food, shelter, cable, drugs; can hang out with your friends all day. The sex can be rather disappointing but I suspect for the people involved it would be unpleasant in or out of prison. Prison is just welfare for those with poor impulse control.

    Prison just unpleasant enough so most people will try to casually avoid it. But we haven’t made it unpleasant enough to make people do almost anything, like work for a living or not behave like monsters, to try and avoid it.

    I sometimes think the idea of the public whipping post in Starship Trooper deserves consideration. Sure the usually suspects will whine that it’s barbaric, but we are dealing with barbaric people. Heck, even most civilized people only wear civilization as a veneer over their basic underlying barbarism. The public whipping post would be quick, sure and be done with fairly quickly. When it was over, it’s over. But the memory would linger and be more of a deterrent.

    Or they might get off on it and inspire them to go on a crime spree. I guess there isn’t a one size fits all fix you can apply to several billion people.

    In idle moments, I’ve considered going on a crime spree until I could steal enough money to retire on. Or until I get caught. Either way, I’d be fixed for life.

    Pity I have that nasty honest streak that keeps getting in the way.

  15. I have been kicking around the following definition for Capitalism for a few years, trying to get it perfect. I throw it out to see what you-all can make of it;

    Free market capitalism presumes the people can be trusted to make economic decisions for themselves, guided by their sense of what will profit them. All other socio-economic systems assume that people need to be guided by regulation and threatened with punishment, for their own good. Thus Capitalism is the belief that an economy based upon greed is an improvement on one based upon fear.

  16. My personal definition of Evil is selfishness. The more selfish someone is, the more evil. Gosnell is evil because he assumed G_d’s authority over life and death and didn’t care about the suffering of the born, unborn or women in his care. The Ohio case shows someone caring only about his own gratification and disregarding the others’ well-being. A government, philosophy, group or individual can all be evil when looked this way

    1. Well, I understand what you mean, but there are plenty of intensely selfish people in the world who find suffering and pain of others to be icky, and charity to be socially gratifying.

      Granted, these Lady Bountiful types are not actually given much incentive by today’s society, so their selfishness tends to them funding other things instead. But yeah, there are some selfish selfish people out there who never harm anyone. Just don’t get between them and their goodies.

  17. I must confess: when I read today’s post title, I began humming “Dear Officer Krupke” from West Side Story. That song is still one of the best examples of the problems of a therapeutic approach to crime, especially when the criminal knows how the system works.

  18. The liberal approach to crime is simply wrong from the beginning. The idea is that people are basically good, and that there must be an environmental cause that turns people bad. Reality just doesn’t support that thesis, it’s an article of faith with them. If you look at the evidence, what you see is that people are basically bad, unless they make a conscious effort to be good.

    Evil doesn’t require an explanation, virtue does. As Chesterton observed, original sin is the only theological doctrine for which anyone can see direct evidence.

    1. Crime isn’t necessarily evil.

      Lifting someone’s wallet is distinctly different than beating a woman to death just because.

      One can also be completely evil and still function within the laws as written. Witness the telemarketer that will repeatedly call the same old person just to sell them another product because they KNOW they will buy it just to spend time talking to SOMEONE on the phone.

      1. I wasn’t talking about crime. What is criminal is defined by the state, and the state is made of flawed human beings. In an ideal society, the class of criminal actions and the class of actions that are ethically wrong would be identical, but there has never been an ideal society.

        My point is that we all have the inclination to do what is wrong–everyone. When we choose to do what is right we are working against our basic nature. We can disagree about ethics–it is a science, and like all sciences a work in progress–but to deny that people will choose to act in ways that violate their own ethics is to deny reality.

        And are you related to the famous Dr. Brian O’Blivion?

        1. It started off as Billy Oblivion from the book Last Stand of the DNA Cowboys, mostly because I can’t play a musical instrument, and Reave seemed a little too much. Plus I tend to introspection. Then Mr. Farren allowed some wanna be rock stars to use DNA Cowboys for a band name and the authorized Billy Oblivion started using that name on the internet, so I changed it to William O. B’livion.

          1. I actually have a copy of Mick Farren’s “Last Stand Of The DNA Cowboys” on my shelf, somewhere. Or at least, I used to.

            As to the rest, I didn’t mean to start an argument. I do agree in substance with the OP.

    2. If you look at the evidence, what you see is that people are basically bad, unless they make a conscious effort to be good.

      Part of this is that “being good” requires, say, refraining from murdering those who annoy you every time, while to “be bad” could mean you only do it one in a dozen times.

    3. Most people are good most of the time. This is because goodness in people is like the goodness of ladder — one unsound rung can ruin all.

      There is a flaw in human nature. Which is the fundamental problem that leads to our requiring and being untrustworthy to run governments.

  19. So most of this is my understanding, which could be wrong or slightly outdated.

    http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/01/training-the-brains-of-psychopaths-daniel-reisel-at-ted2013/

    We all like things this way or that. Nature or Nurture, black or white, Conservative or Progressive (as if those two are exclusive). Life isn’t really like that–there *are* grey areas, and sometimes the answer to This or That is yes (which also means that sometimes it’s no).

    There is significant evidence that much of what we call “Evil” (and most of it is) is the product of a badly formed brain (this isn’t to say that someone with a well formed brain can’t do evil things). This is probably a mix of genetics, the womb environment and childhood development.

    Schizophrenics, Sociopaths/Psychopaths, Autists, real ADHD[1] and other “mental disorders” are increasingly seen as having a genetic component. At the same time we’re finding out that genes are not always destiny, and that the environment can effect how genes express themselves. I would be willing to bet that pedophiles (meaning specifically those sexually attracted to pre- or early polymorphic children) will also have some very specific brain structures, or fall into the sociopath range.

    This is one face of evil. This is the face that walked into the crowded theater in Aurora, this is the face that killed all those kids in Newton and shot at Gabby Giffords.

    This is the face we arrest and convict.

    This face cannot be reasoned with, this face cannot be deterred by rational threat or argument because often this threat completely un- or irrational. There are some ways to detect this early, but they are currently expensive, and–most importantly–having a particular brain structure doesn’t guarantee that one will participate in evil.

    There’s another face of evil, and I have no evidence that there’s genetics involved. This is the face of the Holocaust. This is Stalin and his purges, Mao and his great leaps forward. I suspect the leaders are expressing the sociopath gene, but I don’t get why the rest of the population follows.

    [1] I am not indicating that Autists or ADHD folks are in anyway evil, it’s just that the mutations that cause these things seem–IIRC–to be deviations on the same alleles as sociopoaths.

    1. I’d say that the mentally ill can be evil, but so can everyone else. A malfunctioning brain means impaired mental function, which can smooth some paths to evil. That said, lack of function can also impair the ability to carry out evil acts, or build up a huge stack of grudges against the world. I’d suggest that the organic stuff can add tendencies towards being messed up. Self medication or recreational use of certain classes of substances can probably make that worse.

      Besides brain structure, there is also the biochemistry involved.

      1. From experience– certain meds can cause the judgment area of the brain to be suppressed–then something comes out from the lizard brain even from the most benign person (not that I was ever benign–but I had it controlled and then during high dosages of pred, I didn’t) I hate being out of control. What saved me from evil is that I was too fatigued to do anything about it.

  20. I would direct all of you to some non-fiction reading: _Meditations on Violence_, and _Facing Violence_, by Sgt. Rory Miller. He deals with “the bad guys” on a practical level (he’s a cop), and his books make a damned-sight more sense than most of the pseudo-psychological drivel out there.

    For one: What makes a killer? Would you believe High Self-Esteem? Serial killers have the highest-recorded levels of self-esteem — they think so highly of themselves, and so little of others, they no longer see other humans as humans, but as Prey.

    As to the incarceration/execution issue, the problem is painfully obvious to anyone who’s studied the US prison system for more than five minutes. Used to be, there was an order to the prison system: Screw up in Society, go to Jail; screw up in Jail, go to Alcatraz; screw up in Alcatraz, go to D Block; in D Block, one *did not have the chance to screw up*. The Modest Proposal, then, is to bring back a systemized approach: Screw up in Society, go to Jail; screw up in Jail, go to Supermax; screw up in Supermax, the guards shoot you. Take the “do we kill him?” question out of the hands of squeamish (or bloodthirsty) amateurs, and place it where it belongs — with people who have to deal with this shit regularly.

    1. If CF recommends something Vathara has recommended, I must raise the thing on my priority list. Thank you CF.

  21. You know, the title could really easily be remade into a filk of “Cult of Personality.”

    Vic-tim of so-sigh-it-e, victim of so siiiiigh itie…..

  22. My theory on why some people are evil is that they are in some way wired wrong. Just like a house or computer or anything else can/will malfunction if the wiring isn’t properly done, if for whatever reason a person’s brain isn’t properly done (fetal alcohol, or “bad genes” maybe), bad things can happen.

    Watching dogs interact, big dogs, small dogs, dogs that are supposedly “dangerous”, I’ve noticed that after they mature from the crazy puppy stage they mostly all get along. Like people they may prefer the company of some other dogs over others, but unless attacked or somehow offended by an unsocialized dog they tend to all get along.

    Maybe that’s the problem with some people like Gosnell and others like him, they weren’t properly socialized as children. Or maybe they’re just plain old fashioned evil.

    1. There is an argument that the incidence of sociopathology is far greater than acknowledged, but many sociopaths theoretically find it in their interest to adapt the protective coloration of “normal” members of society. Examples of this are prominently featured in David Drake’s RCN tales, specifically Adele Mundy and her aide.

      As the condition seems to be epigenetic, socialization obviously would be an ameliorating factor.

      1. The ability to kill without remorse and act with thought about long term consequences can be fairly useful in a world of violence and danger as long as you can distinguish between your tribe and everything else.

      2. Thank you, that was what first came to my mind as an example myself. Sociopaths are not necessarily evil. I have known a number of people like Adele that are what I would term borderline sociopaths, they tend to be VERY tribal about friends and family, while being excessively logical in regards to others. They tend to make good friends and bad enemies.

        Our laws are theoretically designed for such people, those that don’t see things a right or wrong in an ethical sense, nonetheless they are perfectly capable of understanding action-consequence cycles, and assessing them. The common saying, “some people are alive simply because it is illegal to kill them” is an example of this. Such people do not see things such as murder as ‘wrong’ nevertheless they can function perfectly well in our society, because they assess the situation and logically decide that killing their annoying neighbor who lets their poodle crap on their sidewalk every morning without cleaning it up is not worth twenty to life. If on the other hand the consequences of killing their neighbor only result in 90 days, they very well may reassess the situation and decide that 90 days in jail is preferable to cleaning dog crap off their sidewalk for the next 14 years. In neither case do they find the act of murder unethical, but in the first they find the price too high, and refrain from actions requiring they pay it, while in the second they find the value/price ratio acceptable.

          1. Yea– I wondered about sociopaths and Odds… which is why I believe that civilizing is important for us– ummm– I read something about sociopaths that made me wonder about my own patterns. I have often thought that emotions can be overly overwrought. I wonder if all thinking people (instead of Jung’s emotional people) are considered Odd because they can suppress emotion if needed.

      1. And if it were all wiring, no doubt our reaction to it would be wiring, too. Yet no one who says it’s wiring says that about us.

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