Attitude Media Crime and Punishment

Justice for an Unjust World

by, John F Groom

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Sanctity of Life, Crime, and the Death Penalty

      Life is not inherently sacred. There is nothing sacrosanct about the life of a serial murderer or rapist. Life is sacred only to the extent that one’s way of living is worth protecting. We are strong believers in the death penalty; someone who does something truly heinous deserves to die both to adhere to an abstract sense of justice, and also because value creators must be protected from those who destroy value. This is why the hero of our graphic novel Favela throws Wall Street thieves from rooftops.

      Man is born into the world naked and cold. In the famous phrase of Thomas Hobbes, life for most people throughout history has been “nasty, brutish, and short”, and consumed by the search for basic needs such as food historical perspective. It is only because of the huge value created by a relatively few innovators that led to the scientific and industrial revolutions that the conditions of most people has dramatically improved. Although the human organism is wired to seek and maintain life, still, life is not worth living just for the sake of being physically alive. Life only has real value if you can live according to your own value judgments, and not in fear of those who would harm you in some manner.

      We don’t particularly care why people rape, murder or steal; The reasons are complex and varied – but we hold people responsible for their actions, and the action, not the motive or the reason, is the defining criteria of how one should be judged. There are plenty of people who come from extremely difficult backgrounds, or lives of neglect and poverty, that manage to live lives of great honor success stories. Environment matters, and genetics matter, but there is some third force, individual human consciousness, which is affected by genetics and environment, yet manages to ultimately be independent of these forces. This is, far more than anything else, what makes humans human, and vastly different from other animals with whom we share most of our DNA and our environment. We are more than the product of natural selection book – we are the organisms that make moral choices.

      Life is not fair, never has been fair, and never will be fair. The purpose of the justice system is not to make life fair in any broad sense, only within the context of specific actors and actions. The purpose of the justice system is to judge individual human actions, decide whether they violate the rights of others, and impose justice. One child will be born healthy, another a cripple. One man will achieve vast wealth, another will work just as hard and be poor. This appears to be the nature of things. As men, we cannot make life fair in some broad overarching way; we will often make it less so if we try. But we can make life fair within the limited horizon of individual transactions; we can protect people from force and fraud and in doing so, create an environment where most people have a reasonable chance of having a life worth living.

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