The Boston Atheists Meetup Group Message Board › On the pros and cons of collective punishment ...

On the pros and cons of collective punishment ...

Paul G. B.
PaulGBrown
San Jose, CA
Post #: 10
To Erin J Carney, who explained he would:

> Find the people who bombed the marathon, and cut their legs off at the knee, and as for the cowards who bombed the world trade center, their families should be rounded up and put on a plane knowing full well that it was going to crash!!!!!

and later in the e-mail chain asked:

> Have you lost anyone to Terrorism?

I responded:

The truly important thing, surely, is not to lose anyone *else*.

The problem with collective punishment is that, rather than lancing the boil, or sterilizing the infection, it merely increases the rate of necrosis. Unless you are prepared to exterminate every one of them--Athens-and-Melos-style--the resentment you create with your response will drag more people into the conflict, each new combatant motivated by a specific, personal grievance.

Holding aside all questions of morality, it's simply ineffective. Unless you're prepared to embrace genocide.


And we were asked to "Take it outside!"
Don L.
donlubin
Allston, MA
Post #: 3
Hello Erin / Garret,

I hear your anger. We all are angry. I imagine that the two bombers were angry, though I have no idea why. Much of my anger is at them, for the way they expressed their anger. It may be healthy to express one's anger in some way, but I believe it is of utmost importance to direct that expression towards the actual object of one's anger. I can't believe that the bombers were actually angry at people for watching the race.
We are angry at the bombers. One is dead, the other gravely wounded and incarcerated. He faces a death penalty, but I expect he will spend a long life in prison. So they both are punished adequately, I would say, perhaps more than anything I could have done to them.
But you suggest expressing anger at other people as well. Who else? Their parents, who can't believe they could have done such a thing? The uncle who just thinks they are "losers"? Where are they from? Cambridge, last 11 years. Doesn't make sense to be angry at other Ringe & Latin students. Other Chechnyans, who spent years fighting the Soviet empire? Residents of Dagestan? Muslims, who were among the first to condemn their acts?
If there were friends or associates or internet contacts who urged them to bomb the Marathon, I am angry at them as well, but so far there is no real evidence of any such people.

Yes it is a shame that terrorism occurs. People suffer all sorts of injuries and misfortune accidentally without the need for anyone to cause it deliberately. I believe there is more good than evil in the world, but both are difficult to define and quantify, and there is no way to prove such a statement. I believe that if we develop a world with better mental health care, less starvation, war, or other violence, we can reduce such violent, insane acts. But maybe never eliminate them. Any of us may die at any time; it's a risk we take being alive. The risk of being deliberately killed is small, but too large.

I hope you can find some constructive way to direct your anger. I hope I can.

- Don Lubin
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