Justice and Revenge

Empty Hands

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In the now locked thread on bin Laden's death, a poster implied that he would murder the family of a man who murdered his child. For questioning this, a private message implied that I needed to move on to the Daily Kos or Democratic Underground (partisan Democrat sites).

I had thought this was a fairly non-controversial opinion on the nature of justice, that transcends political divides. Perhaps I was wrong.

So is revenge against the family of someone who has wronged you justified? Is it moral? Should it be permitted by society, or are laws against vigilantism and vendetta wrong? Is revenge itself, even directly against the person who has wronged you, moral?

Opinions welcome. Also, since the thread is now locked, I would welcome that poster to clarify his views if I misunderstood them.
 

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-If someone wrong's me, then my beef is with him. If a group wrong's me, than my beef is with that group. I don't need to exact more than a pound of flesh when one will satisfy me. If my revenge/bloodlust extends beyond the guilty party, then it is me who should be hunted. We try to balance the scales, not just the ones before us, but also the one in our soul. Most religious speak out against seeking revenge.

-All I can think is, if there really is a higher being judging us from above, he or she or it is going to have a field day when some of us shed this mortal coil.

Sins of the father? Unless they are also your sins, you're free to go.


Andrew
 

granfire

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Seems perfectly understandable to punish others for something they did not commit.

Has a long standing tradition in totalitarian regimes, right?!
(of course, if it's your own turn to receive such just sentencing...)



and yes, that's sarcasm.
:)
 

Bob Hubbard

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Not always.

But, what do you call someone who harms an innocent?

Anger, is a wonderful thing. Used carefully, it is a tool, used carelessly, it will consume you, and destroy you.

My enemy is my enemy. Unless his family were involved in the action, then it is not justice, it is murder. Under those terms "Kill them all" you better get them all. Because you have authorized and approved their vengence on you through the rest of your family.

They kill my kid.
I kill their kid.
They kill my wife.
I kill their mother.
They kill my cat.
I kill their puppy.
It ends when one of us runs out of family, friends, and pets, and are ourselves killed.

Not something I care to partake in.
 

granfire

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Not always.

But, what do you call someone who harms an innocent?

Anger, is a wonderful thing. Used carefully, it is a tool, used carelessly, it will consume you, and destroy you.

My enemy is my enemy. Unless his family were involved in the action, then it is not justice, it is murder. Under those terms "Kill them all" you better get them all. Because you have authorized and approved their vengence on you through the rest of your family.

They kill my kid.
I kill their kid.
They kill my wife.
I kill their mother.
They kill my cat.
I kill their puppy.
It ends when one of us runs out of family, friends, and pets, and are ourselves killed.

Not something I care to partake in.

well, when you put it this way...(I don't think for a girl showing her hair or putting on jeans it's a death worthy crime either, what we usually associate with honor killing...)
 

Touch Of Death

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In the now locked thread on bin Laden's death, a poster implied that he would murder the family of a man who murdered his child. For questioning this, a private message implied that I needed to move on to the Daily Kos or Democratic Underground (partisan Democrat sites).

I had thought this was a fairly non-controversial opinion on the nature of justice, that transcends political divides. Perhaps I was wrong.

So is revenge against the family of someone who has wronged you justified? Is it moral? Should it be permitted by society, or are laws against vigilantism and vendetta wrong? Is revenge itself, even directly against the person who has wronged you, moral?

Opinions welcome. Also, since the thread is now locked, I would welcome that poster to clarify his views if I misunderstood them.
One of the functions of civilization is to take the dealing out of justice out of the hands of the people and into the hands of the police. There is a good reason for this; although, when it is your child you feel differently.
Sean
 

WC_lun

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You would think someone with the opinion that killing a family for the sins of the father would embrace right wing Islamist radicalism, since the thougt process, particularly when it comes to revenge are so similiar. Justice should be something we all strive for. However, revenge never leads to anything productive and lives in the realm of ignorance, hatred, and stupidity.
 

Bill Mattocks

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In the USA, we live in a society of laws, where criminal justice is administered by the state. There is no such thing as private justice. Most of us tend to agree and go along with this notion, until a wrong is done to us or our loved ones, and then some of us decide that private justice is well and good. An 'eye for and eye' and all that.

I won't touch the moral aspect of revenge, retribution, or private justice. I will simply say that a society that permits it to any large extent will cease to function. Society requires that most citizens obey law, and that those who do not are dealt with by the state. A nation that tolerates private justice quickly becomes unable to maintain order, since every citizen will set their own standard for what requires private justice to be administered. Shall we shoot those who shoot our families? Very well, then. Shall we shoot those who insult our honor? It may seem that these two things are worlds apart; but once the private revenge business is allowed to flourish, the boundaries quickly break down.

Government-run criminal justice is often not just, not fair, not satisfying, and not even uniform. However, it is what keeps our society running and prevents a slide into chaos. It is far from perfect; but there is nothing better currently available.

In 1984, a karate instructor named Jeffrey Doucet allegedly kidnapped a student he had been molesting, and absconded with the boy to California. He was captured by police and returned to face trial. However, as deputies escorted him through the airport, the boy's father, Gary Plauche, stepped out from a pay phone, drew a revolver from a paper bag, and shot Doucet through the head, killing him instantly. This, by the way, happened live on television; I remember it well.

Plauche was arrested and charged with murder. He was found guilty at trial and sentenced to probation. Many felt that he should not have even been arrested; he was feted as a hero by many.

However, let us propose that Doucet had not been guilty. As it turns out, the boy in question was in the news recently - he confirms now what was alleged then - but let us pretend for the sake of argument that the allegation was untrue. Is Plauche's action still justifiable? Is it still permissible? Is it still heroic?

Let us propose that Plauche had hit an innocent bystander? After all, he was in an airport, surrounded by passengers, police officers, and news reporters. The shot was a .38 Special directly to the head of Doucet; it could easily have over-penetrated and injured or killed someone else. He might as easily have missed, with similar results. Is Plauche's action still justifiable? Still permissible? Still heroic?

And although we tend to put ourselves in Plauche's shoes and ask "How would I feel if it happened to my child," we do not tend to put ourselves in the shoes of Doucet's family - if he were innocent - or in the shoes of the loved ones of an innocent killed by mistake when Plauche sought revenge.

Suppose your father or brother or sister had been walking through the airport and been shot by an over-penetrating bullet fired by Plauche. Would you still feel he was a hero who did what he had to do? Would you be happy to hear he had been given probation instead of prison time after taking justice into his own hands? Perhaps you would feel that you were then justified to seek private justice against Plauche? I mean, why not?

I contend that private justice is degenerative and damaging to societies such as ours. Even though it may seem at times that justice is more completely done when administered by angry families of victims, the overall effect is destructive.

The funny part to me is that the desire to keep justice administered by the state is a conservative value; allowing private justice is essentially anarchic, the antithesis of order. I certainly don't find it in conflict with my conservative viewpoint.
 

Bill Mattocks

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One of the functions of civilization is to take the dealing out of justice out of the hands of the people and into the hands of the police. There is a good reason for this; although, when it is your child you feel differently.
Sean

Agreed. Although technically, the police are not part of the justice system; they are part of the executive system. They enforce the laws; the courts exact the punishment on behalf of society. But yes, a civilized society places the justice system in the hands of the government and this is one of the many reasons for it.

This, by the way, is the same reason that jurors are unidentified and hangmen are hooded. The state exacts the punishment; not a person. If I catch some guy rustling my cattle and hang him, his son comes after me, and my son comes after him, and so on. If I catch some guy rustling my cattle and turn him over to the police, and the courts hang him, his son can rue and regret; but not come after me. If his son goes after the government; well, he'll hang like his daddy, and the government won't seek revenge, so it ends there.
 

WC_lun

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Revenge doesn't end. It keeps perpetuating itself. In my neighborhood we know we are in for a rough patch when some gang banger is wounded or killed. It never ends there, because his homeys want revenge. You get revenge shooting after revenge shooting. Honest people get caught in the crossfire, often children. Aside from the moral issues, there are too many unintended consequences.
 

MJS

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In the now locked thread on bin Laden's death, a poster implied that he would murder the family of a man who murdered his child. For questioning this, a private message implied that I needed to move on to the Daily Kos or Democratic Underground (partisan Democrat sites).

I had thought this was a fairly non-controversial opinion on the nature of justice, that transcends political divides. Perhaps I was wrong.

So is revenge against the family of someone who has wronged you justified? Is it moral? Should it be permitted by society, or are laws against vigilantism and vendetta wrong? Is revenge itself, even directly against the person who has wronged you, moral?

Opinions welcome. Also, since the thread is now locked, I would welcome that poster to clarify his views if I misunderstood them.

As someone else said, my beef is with the person, not the persons family. If I was going to actually seek out revenge, I'd seek it against that person, nobody else. If someone murdered my child, what use is it to me to kill his mother? Sure, I suppose you could, after all, he took someone from you, you're taking someone from him. But what if his mother had nothing to do with the death of my child? But like WC_lun just said....its a never-ending cycle of nothing but trouble.
 

Bill Mattocks

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As someone else said, my beef is with the person, not the persons family. If I was going to actually seek out revenge, I'd seek it against that person, nobody else. If someone murdered my child, what use is it to me to kill his mother? Sure, I suppose you could, after all, he took someone from you, you're taking someone from him. But what if his mother had nothing to do with the death of my child? But like WC_lun just said....its a never-ending cycle of nothing but trouble.

And that person's son kills you. And your son kills him. Same never-ending cycle of violence. And again - great if you kill the guy who kills someone in your family. And if you turn out to be wrong and he's not the guy? And if you accidentally kill someone else who just happened to be in the area? But that could not happen - you'd be dead certain, and your aim is just so darned good, no way could that occur, right?

Revenge is private justice. Private justice is forbidden. For good reason. Anyone who can't abide by the rules of society should not be living in that society. A murderer is one such. A person who seeks vengeance for murder is themselves a murderer - no better, no worse. Both must be removed from society for the good of the rest of us.
 

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And that person's son kills you. And your son kills him. Same never-ending cycle of violence. And again - great if you kill the guy who kills someone in your family. And if you turn out to be wrong and he's not the guy? And if you accidentally kill someone else who just happened to be in the area? But that could not happen - you'd be dead certain, and your aim is just so darned good, no way could that occur, right?

Revenge is private justice. Private justice is forbidden. For good reason. Anyone who can't abide by the rules of society should not be living in that society. A murderer is one such. A person who seeks vengeance for murder is themselves a murderer - no better, no worse. Both must be removed from society for the good of the rest of us.

I agree, and I hope my post didn't imply that I was all for revenge. Apologies if it did.:) Much like defending yourself, the threat is over, the guy is down, and we use his ribs for football practice.....no, as I've said before....as tempting as it may be, no need to do that.

So no, better to let the law deal with it. Now...if someone were physically in the act of trying to kill my child, wife, mother, father....no, theres no question about it....I would, and I certainly hope everyone else would as well, immediately go to the defense of our loved one, and yes, if it meant taking the attackers life, then so be it.
 

Bill Mattocks

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I agree, and I hope my post didn't imply that I was all for revenge. Apologies if it did.:) Much like defending yourself, the threat is over, the guy is down, and we use his ribs for football practice.....no, as I've said before....as tempting as it may be, no need to do that.

So no, better to let the law deal with it. Now...if someone were physically in the act of trying to kill my child, wife, mother, father....no, theres no question about it....I would, and I certainly hope everyone else would as well, immediately go to the defense of our loved one, and yes, if it meant taking the attackers life, then so be it.

My mistake. Since I wasn't part of the original thread, I thought you were condoning going after someone who personally did your family an injury, but not going after their family. Mea culpa.
 

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there is a certain train of thought that says "make them regret angering you so greatly that they nor thier decendants will ever think of going after you"

i dont know if i agree with it, but it is an historically followed concept.
 

Bill Mattocks

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there is a certain train of thought that says "make them regret angering you so greatly that they nor thier decendants will ever think of going after you"

i dont know if i agree with it, but it is an historically followed concept.

Yes, but...

a) does it work? From the example of the Hatfields and the McCoys - apocryphal, but you get the idea, one gets the notion that escalation never ends until one side is ultimately wiped out completely.

b) is that the kind of society we want to live in? Here I can only say that many people seem to think they do. I suspect they may wish this, but if one of their own were tracked down and killed in a revenge killing, they'd not think it was all that lovely. Of course, one never thinks of one's own "Well, I guess he had it coming." Ours are always the innocents. The ones seeking the revenge are always the bad guys in those circumstances.
 
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