Crime and justice 8

This is a near-repeat of our post Morality, Crime, and Justice (December 6, 2012). We have adapted it to be a comment on the mass-murder that was carried out last night (Sunday October 1, 2017) in Las Vegas:

An all-powerful all-knowing good god was at work again last night when 58 people were shot to death and 515 injured (as known at the time of this writing) at a concert in Las Vegas by a 64 year old man named Stephen Craig Paddock. God will be thanked for saving some of the audience. And there will be much talk by Christians of praying, and about forgiveness. Forgiving by the unharmed on behalf of the victims is arrogant and foolish, but forgiveness is part of the Christian doctrinal revolt against justice.

If some must believe in an all-powerful all-knowing god who controls the universe, it would make a lot 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 absurd 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 always 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,  nothing more than 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 who has killed 58 people then kills himself as Stephen Craig Paddock has done, 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 crime but of the criminal. 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 betray the principle.

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

Posted under Crime, United States by Jillian Becker on Monday, October 2, 2017

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