Tuesday, October 6, 2009


so, i guess gandhi got it right:

an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

case in point:


so, then two heinous acts make do make for a positive outcome. at the end of the day, there will now be two blind people.

i mean, i get where the lady, bahrami, is coming from. she feels that this is a just punishment, though the net outcome is two blinded people, two negatives. [though, if he was sent to prison, it would probably still be a dual negative; and after his crime, should he be allowed a positive?]

i imagine that one theoretical intention of justice would be to transfer the negative 'harm' (the infringement of an interest; in that bahrami has an interest in her sight and avoiding burning, scarring, and pain) to the person who inflicted the harm. thereby allowing him/her a chance to regain whatever equilibrium s/he had before (a positive only in relation to the negative impact of the harm) and also, once the inflicter absorbs the harm, allowing inflicter the chance to move on and regain his/her equalibrium (once again a positive only in relation to the negative harm).

taking her blindness and transferring it to him, would thus make it so that in the end, the net result would be that the inflicter only inflicted harm on himself (this in itself may be a ethically problematic stance; does harm have to be transferred? could there not be a system of justice that absorbs harm, that dissipates the negativity?). this is of course not currently possible. but, if it were, it would be a corporal punishment. as in this case, say we could take the inflicter's eyes and give them to her, would i then be for corporal punishment? hrm. and that may not be possible now, but that might just be a matter of time.

what about irreplaceable items, like life, or the freedom from violation, in the case of rape? what if, say, killing a murderer could bring back a dead person, would i therefore be a death penalty proponent? i digress.

so, this woman believes not only that this is just, but that this might be a preventative measure. she states: "If I don't do this and there is another acid attack, I will never forgive myself for as long as I live."

wow, a pretty powerful statement. and one that is not without logic, if humans were using the same logic.

the problem is that now she is getting into the realm of politics and public policy, in that she's doing something that will directly or indirectly effect the actions of others. politics. in essence she is trying to assert some kind of control or take part in enforcing a control over people.

if we enforce an eye for an eye, then this will show other possible and future transgressors the results of their actions. enforce the tough laws.

let's get tough on crime! the whole idea that creating and enforcing tougher laws and punishments is questionable.

is that how humans work? do we weigh the options of the reward of the crime with the possible punishment along with the statistics of getting caught? is that what criminals do? that is how most of our laws are set up, or it would seem. laws for the rational criminal. or the rational person.

for that's what these laws and the philosophy forming them suggest, at least, in part: that without laws people would just do as they please and rape and pillage. the only reason i don't kill all my roommates and my family isn't love, isn't friendship, isn't decency, isn't morality, isn't compassion, isn't cause i'm a nice guy, it's because i fear the retributive punishment of my actions from the law and society on the whole (this seems almost like a paradox: creating rational laws that should be applied to rational people, for, unless you are insane, the law considers you rational and in control of your feelings, intentions, and actions [minus special cases of diminished capacity and other fine points, like drunk driving where the crime is committed before you get drunk, in a sense]; and yet the law only exists because without them we would tear each other apart. so, it if we are rational, but would kill the shit out of each other but for laws, then rape, murder, lying, pillaging, torture, theft, mutilation, molestation, etc., all illegal activities are actually just forbidden but perfectly rational acts, and those people who commit these activities are doing rational acts for rational reasons).

furthermore, these get tough on crime campaigns: if we want to stop crime because getting tougher on crime scares would-be criminals into straight work, b prosecuting more people and handing out harsher sentences, would we ever back down if things got nice? i mean, i guess this does lead to a police state where the populace is under a negative peace: they don't have the freedom to even commit crimes. in essence crime has been taken out of the hands of the populace and concentrated into the hands of the government to be spread evenly and uniformly over the subjugated populace.

i would love to see a historian, criminologist, and a lawyer, or all in the same, sit down and really do an analysis of the history of laws, crime, and punishment and quantitatively analyze the 'success' of the judicial system of historical and current societies. do societies with harsher laws have a 'better' or 'healthier' society (this, of course, would be terribly difficult, as one would have to measure the way that a society could be successful or healthy, or even, happy, and define, quantitatively, what these terms mean. birth rate? economic growth? literature? journalistic integrity? percent of population behind bars? sustainability? art or musical output? mortality rate? longevity? population size? environmental decline? one would probably have to take a jared diamond or ray kurzweil approach: choose something easily quantitative that is detrimental to a society. determining what that is is for greater minds). perhaps out of all this we could create a humanity tailored criminal justice system. a post-modern, deconstructed, meta-criminal justice system.