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Vigilanteism

 
 
PaulG
 
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2008 09:58 pm
A recent case in Queensland, Australia, involving a child sex-offender who had a case dismissed by a judge due to a belief by the judge that an impartial jury would not be found, weakness in the prosecution case and possibility of time served being at least equal to, if not in excess, of the possible sentence, has resulted in extensive public unrest by people living in the area where the offender has been housed.

Given the emotive aspects of child sex-offences and the publics concerns regarding their own children, can vigilante action against people who are, essentially, free be acceptable under any circumstances?

Paul.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,146 • Replies: 16
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GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2008 10:30 pm
@PaulG,
Quote:
Given the emotive aspects of child sex-offences and the publics concerns regarding their own children, can vigilante action against people who are, essentially, free be acceptable under any circumstances?


The vigilante accepts it.
PaulG
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2008 10:40 pm
@GoshisDead,
That is a reasonable answer I suppose. The concept of vigilante action has, i believe, been close to the surface of most cultures. The behaviour of those who try to force someone they believe to be "evil" out of their community would, obviously, be accepted by the vigilantes. In a broader sense though, can such behaviours be seen as an extension of the greater good defense. That is, can such actions be acceptable if there is a society wide belief that no other alternatives are available to supposidly protect a local community?
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2008 10:44 pm
@PaulG,
The law is not so much protection as it is vengeance. Someone must break the law to require punishment. Vigilantism is simply deinstitutionalizing the vengeance. The reason why people consider it unjust i think is because it serves to break down social cohesion, not really that it is wrong to punish someone who should be punished anyway.
PaulG
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2008 11:34 pm
@GoshisDead,
It might break down social cohesion, but it may also build community cohesion. The role of law can also be seen to provide a structure that can help to maintain social structures. Even if a law has not been broken, the deterrence effect can (note that I don't use the work does) impact on how individuals act. But, give a group of individuals a target, and they can become a very cohesive force. Perhaps the major fear in regard to vigilantism is the potential of any individual becoming a target because they have breached the communities code of conduct.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2008 11:45 pm
@PaulG,
A group of people and a governed society isn't the same thing, once a group of vigilantes usurps the vengeance power of the law they have become separatists. A community's code of conduct is normally in line with whatever the law is, in "democratic" nations and societies. Vigilantism in the example you stated has an offender who probably broke the law, a law that was in line with the societal norms. It was when the law failed to deliver the retribution expected that the idea of vigilantism came to be. The vigilante in this case is doing what the law was designed to do but didn't. The possible injustice is that the offender does not get processed by the law which is also designed to keep innocent people away from vigilantes. So in a way yes, the fear is that someone will do something to you because you broke a community code of ethics, but it is more that one person or a mob, which in practicum is one person, get to decide your fate.
PaulG
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2008 11:55 pm
@GoshisDead,
As I said in the original post, the case was dismissed. Technically, he is now, if not innocent, at least not guilty. I maybe should have been more clear in what I was saying. The example I provided was meant to suggest the idea of mobs reacting to people perceived to be in breach of the community's/society's laws and/or mores. the actions of the vigilantes would have to be seen to be illegal. On the other hand, could they be seen to be moral?
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2008 02:10 am
@PaulG,
Consider the worst case vigilante scenario - an army of sadistic, dogmatic freaks slaughtering everything in their path because the whole world must perish before their souls can be saved. It's eternal justice you're after. They rise up at a predetermined time and take to the streets. Pilots, politicians, military personal; the group has adherents on every level. Six months later, untold numbers dead, the group is finally crushed by an international coalition to restore order in the poor country.

Vigilatneism is an arrogant and brutal occupation. First, you have to assume that you're right and everyone else is wrong, and then you must convince yourself that it's your place to use violence against another person.

I guess we could debate what is considered reasonably moral, but the mix of arrogance and brutality is generally seen as immoral, not to mention arrogance or brutality individually.
PaulG
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2008 03:11 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Maybe some clarification is needed here. I don't in any way support the concept of people taking things like this into their own hands. Vigilante groups scare the daylights out of me, but I can see how a community, if not a whole society, could be caught up in the heat of the moment. On another level, could civil disruption against a despotic ruler, be considered as being similar to the example that I have given? Civil disruption could also require people who would otherwise be seen as innocent being harmed.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2008 04:00 am
@PaulG,
Quote:
Maybe some clarification is needed here. I don't in any way support the concept of people taking things like this into their own hands. Vigilante groups scare the daylights out of me, but I can see how a community, if not a whole society, could be caught up in the heat of the moment.


Right. People go crazy all of the time. Reminds me of a quote - something about people being sane by themselves, but insane in groups.

Quote:
On another level, could civil disruption against a despotic ruler, be considered as being similar to the example that I have given?


Sure. Peaceful, civil disobedience sounds like civil disruption. And civil disobedience requires that someone pursue justice. Methods are different - different basic assumptions - but similar.
PaulG
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2008 04:19 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Civil disobedience doesn't necessarily have to be peaceful. Can't it also be the start of civil war?
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2008 04:55 am
@PaulG,
Quote:
Civil disobedience doesn't necessarily have to be peaceful. Can't it also be the start of civil war?


Right - which is why included the qualifier 'peaceful'. Probably should have used it in the second instance, too. Sorry.

Violent protest, civil disobedience. Sure, why not?

Interestingly, peaceful civil disobedience might also overthrow, or attempt to overthrow, the government - same goal as a civil war.

For me, the matter comes down to method. I don't necessarily have anything against the spirit of vigilanteism - it's the violence I worry abut.
0 Replies
 
nameless
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Sep, 2008 01:42 pm
@PaulG,
PaulG;18245 wrote:
A recent case in Queensland, Australia, involving a child sex-offender who had a case dismissed by a judge due to a belief by the judge that an impartial jury would not be found, weakness in the prosecution case and possibility of time served being at least equal to, if not in excess, of the possible sentence, has resulted in extensive public unrest by people living in the area where the offender has been housed.

Perhaps, as indicated by the italicised portions, he is not only not guilty (prosecution's weak case), but has served time for nothing. Despite the mindless mooing emotionality of the easily manipulable mob, he might be innocent. If he is found in flagrante dilicto, in the act, the prosecution would have a good case. If the case is that weak, tie goes to the runner!

Think of the rape allegations in southern usa accusing a sports team of rape. An overactive prosecutor commited misconduct in order to 'score' a conviction. The mooing mob was ready to hang en all. Oops!...

I don't see the abovementioned case, what i know of it, as cause for people to 'take it into their own hands'.
Other cases, perhaps.
"Nothing is true. Everything is permitted!" -Hassan i Sabbah (old man of the mountain)
0 Replies
 
nameless
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Sep, 2008 01:44 pm
@PaulG,
PaulG;18245 wrote:
A recent case in Queensland, Australia, involving a child sex-offender who had a case dismissed by a judge due to a belief by the judge that an impartial jury would not be found, weakness in the prosecution case and possibility of time served being at least equal to, if not in excess, of the possible sentence, has resulted in extensive public unrest by people living in the area where the offender has been housed.

Perhaps, as indicated by the bolded portions, he is not only not guilty (prosecution's weak case), but has served time for nothing. Despite the mindless mooing emotionality of the easily manipulable mob, he might be innocent. If he is found in flagrante dilicto, in the act, the prosecution would have a good case. If the case is that weak, tie goes to the runner!

Think of the rape allegations in southern usa accusing a sports team of rape. An overactive prosecutor commited misconduct in order to 'score' a conviction. The mooing mob was ready to hang en all. Oops!...

I don't see the abovementioned case, what i know of it, as cause for people to 'take it into their own hands'.
Other cases, perhaps.
"Nothing is true. Everything is permitted!" -Hassan i Sabbah (old man of the mountain)
0 Replies
 
Agnapostate
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Oct, 2008 11:27 pm
@PaulG,
Vigilantism is an interesting issue. Some have claimed that widespread public action in the form of "criminal justice" that is directly opposed to the actions of the government is profoundly more democratic than the initial government mandates. On the other hand, an isolated few could theoretically take the law into their own hands, which renders the "democratic" argument senseless. Moreover, even were a majority to favor violent action against a supposed criminal, this would seem to fall into the category of tyranny of the majority more than "democracy."
0 Replies
 
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Oct, 2008 09:01 am
@PaulG,
PaulG,Smile

I think the point of it is, is that of the innate power of the civilian population as expressed by Thoreau, Gandhi, and Martin Luther king. A high price to pay sometimes for peace, equality and dignity, but what is underlined is that violence begets violence, the old biblical saying an eye for an eye, as Gandhi said, makes the whole world blind. Still, this kind of courage, as demonstrated by these people and their followers, is rare, unfortunately. vigilanteism is unleashed passion, revenge, an eye for an eye, there really is no self control involved.
PaulG
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2008 01:24 am
@boagie,
Is attempting to take the law into one's own hands a good thing when it's done because you don't like the umpire's decision? Our legal system is based on the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Regardless of how one feels about a particular offence or offender, the decisions of the Courts should be final. That is, unless the decision can be proved to be against the best interests of society as a whole. The particular case I cited in the original post has now died a natural death. I have no doubt, however, that similar incidents will occur.

We seem to think that behaviours that are acceptable for "normal" people in the community are not appropriate for those who are considered to be outsiders. Violent actions against those seen as being "dangerous" is acceptable, but don't let the tables be turned.
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