On morality, crime, and justice 106

An all-powerful all-knowing good god was at work again recently when 26 people, 20 of them little children, were shot to death by a young man. God was busy saving some of the children, according to some whose children were not shot. And there are Christian priests and other liars and sentimentalists on TV talking about forgiveness. Forgiveness on behalf of the victims is an empty gesture, and the dead of course cannot forgive. Forgiveness is in any case part of the Christian doctrinal revolt against justice.

We won’t spend many moments considering such heartless nonsense. We will observe in passing, though, that if someone must believe in an all-powerful all-knowing god who controls the universe, it would make quite a bit more sense to believe he is evil. An evil god can be whimsical. He can decide not to do evil now and then. Believers could even ascribe good deeds to him without falling into a mess of inconsistency, since an evil god would enjoy confusing his creatures.

But enough bothering with idiotic beliefs. Let’s say how we view such human deeds. Throughout our lives we are continually and inevitably to a certain extent in the hands of other people. We should try not to do harm to one another. That is a very high standard of morality. We will not succeed, but we can and should try.

And what of those who deliberately do harm? Whenever possible they should be punished. He who has taken a life (and lives on) should have his life taken from him. If he has taken many lives, there is nothing more that can be done. Punishment of the mass-murderer cannot be commensurate with his crime. Justice is elusive. We cannot always, or often, achieve it. But again, we can and should try.

When someone kills 26 people, 20 of them little children, and then kills himself, so putting himself beyond even such justice as is within our power, all we can do is blame him and express – yes – our hatred not just of the deed but of the perpetrator. Hold him responsible. That is all we can do in such a case to uphold the principle of justice. To forgive him, even if only in theory, would be to commit another crime – and resign the principle.

As we say in our Articles of reason: Justice may be elusive, but judgment is inescapable.

Posted under Commentary, Crime, Ethics, United States by Jillian Becker on Sunday, December 16, 2012

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