The Human Condition

I like cleaning. Not because I’m a masochist, but because it means I get half an hour or so of uninterrupted monologuing time. Obviously I try not to do this out loud, because then people would interrupt me to reply, but if I do it in my head I can pretend the perfect person is standing next to me replying with all the right things so I can sound clever. I’m always more coherent in my head.

One of the things I’ve been musing on is the death penalty. First of all, it’s a good thing to think about when you don’t have to do anything complicated like ascend stairs. Secondly, it’s great if you’ve got a really boring thing like glass to clean. Glass is a bit of a wanker to clean.

I digressed again, and I’m sorry.

But the death penalty is something I really don’t understand. I mean, what they’re basically saying is this: Murder is wrong, unless it’s me doing it. The law against killing is really important, unless someone else breaks it first. It’s very much hypocritical, I think.

Not to say that a murderer doesn’t deserve to be punished. I’m not saying we ought to get them all into a big room and throw them a party. But even locking them up has a certain futility to it. “You killed someone? Great! Have a stay in a high-security facility free of charge for the next twenty years! We’ll even throw in a tv.” But then again, I don’t think I could justify locking people up in squalid conditions. Scratch that, I definitely couldn’t justify that.

Obviously it would be better if we could prevent murder. Something like in Minority Report, where you can predict murders and then go at them with a crack team of police officers who’ve got the righteous power of three imprisoned orphans on their side. (Watch the film, it’s great) Except that doesn’t work. So maybe something more along the lines of teaching people that killing is wrong? “Don’t do crime, kids. You lose all your friends, it’s rubbish”. I don’t think all humans are inherently evil, particularly. They’re all just a bit apathetic. Make it more effort to do evil things than it is to do not-evil things, and I bet people will do not-evil things. Or just not do evil things, either works.

The philosophy of Charli, in a nutshell: Humans are lazy as fuck, and probably not evil.

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4 thoughts on “The Human Condition

  1. It’s a bit of a tricky issue.

    Each source I’ve looked at for whether the death penalty works or not (I assume the point is less revenge, more removing a danger to society) seems to say something different as to whether or not it actually deters crime.

    Some would make the point that there’s a difference between murder and killing, although I’m not sure how far I’d go to agree with that stance – killing in defence may be acceptable, but an imprisoned murderer is defenceless and has no capacity to commit further crime unless you let them go. So surely there’s something you can do to them OTHER than killing ’em back that a) Reprimands them and b) Attemps to improve them.

    ANY punishment that has any chance of being effective, involves doing something to cause suffering of some form to the one being punished, and therefore may be considered evil. If a punishment isn’t actually unpleasant, as you point out, it’s unlikely to deter people. Does saying “You’ve murdered someone, so we’re going to be a little bit evil to you”, count as acceptable?

    In modern society, people aren’t taught that murder is right, in fact, it’s ingrained into our moral code that murder is wrong, and yet people still sort of . . . do it. That doesn’t exactly prove that all humans are evil, but rather that anyone has the potential to be evil – so you know, not all humans.
    So I’m not sure what further measures you would suggest to prevent murder in the first place that wouldn’t result in a sort of dystopian psycho-pass style system, where people who it is suspected, for whatever reason, may commit a crime are pre-emptively locked up. It doesn’t seem that it would be possible to tell with 100% accuracy who might commit a crime, nor does it seem possible that someone wouldn’t abuse that system as a method of control.

    Point of interest, I believe in Japan they have a morality class and teachers have a much larger amount of involvement in the upbringing of a child – home visits, et cetera. I’m not sure how it functions over there, or whether they’ve had any trouble over differing moral codes, but it sounds like the kind of thing you might want to look into.

    I don’t really have a side picked in this debate, hence I’ve just been rambling at you from both sides of the argument hoping to stimulate you into making yet more interesting points. So . . . enjoy this food for thought.

    • And of course people don’t lose all their human rights once they’ve been imprisoned, so surely killing them is still murder? And once you get into the issue of whether they were really guilty it’s hard to justify.

      My problem is that I would want to reduce the overall evil in the system. So I suppose that’s why you have a small group of people (police officers) arresting people and so forth, with the general public allowed to not do evil things at all if they want. So would it be better to do something like in Johnny English and send all the criminals off to some small island- oh wait, we already did that, didn’t we? There’s always Antarctica, eh?

      All humans seem to tend somewhat towards apathy rather than evil I think. Which means I have a very depressing philosophy about the human race I suppose.
      Yeah, even in the film things went a little bit wrong because someone managed to manipulate the precognition to get away with murder. In real life we have far fewer accurate prophets anyway so it’s a moot point.

      It sort of seems like what PSHE was supposed to be, except a version of PSHE where people actually engage with it.

      • Mmm, well, as far as I’m aware of the system, you can’t be convicted, certainly at least of murder, on purely circumstantial evidence. But it doesn’t completely rule out the possibility, I suppose, that the evidence is manipulated by dastardly people.

        I’m not sure how exactly one would go about making not-murder the lazy option. I mean, as far as I can tell, most motives for murder would accept no substitute, unless that’s not what you’re saying.

        Pretty much. Although good luck making PHSE engaging, my word . . . say, we could introduce study of law from an earlier age. At infants it would be basic stuff like “Murder is bad, kids” and then by secondary school age, we could have them all educated in the laws of the country and maybe have learned some badass critical thinking and debate skills while they’re at it . . . I’m sure it wouldn’t eliminate crime, but it might help. So there would still be the problem of dealing with criminals.

        Basically Psycho-Pass is That: The Anime. I’d recommend it, I haven’t watched it all yet myself, but what I’ve seen so far was interesting.

      • Innocent until proven guilty, yeah. But that doesn’t mean people don’t make mistakes with evidence etc. You obviously would find it difficult to prove that either way; it’s not like people do it on purpose and make records of it. Never attribute something to malice that could be attributed to incompetence.
        “Don’t murder! Have a burger!” Ok, so I shouldn’t come up with slogans.
        Yeah, something along those lines. Impressing upon kids the actual ramifications of crime and so on. Make them read really good satires or something. Make the kids read good books, actually. Just in general.
        Hmm well I shall add it to my extremely long list of things that I have to watch 🙂

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