Though the recent torture of an innocent man in Chicago is the root of my thoughts, this missive isn’t actually about that. Rather it’s about what to do with such people. It’s a very serious question we, as a society, must ask ourselves.
What do we do with people who kidnap and torture innocent people?
In our anger we are likely to say kill them or if more calmly tempered like Montel Williams in the article linked below we say lock them away for the rest of their natural lives.
The death penalty is something very controversial. It should be. Sometimes innocent people are put to death. In this case there is no doubt about the crime since the criminals broadcast it live. Unlike most criminals who seek to hide their deeds these four did the opposite and worked to make sure everyone knew it was them. They wanted their deeds in the bright light of day. We can argue if this is because of how evil they are or if it’s just a natural extension of our Facebook infected world. But for me that’s not much of an argument. I won’t for one moment blame this on Facebook or parenting or any other factor. They did it, they let everyone know they did it.
Can a society let such people live in it?
The primary reason humans gather in groups, tribes, towns, cities, and nations, is for security and protection. One way we obtain this is to deter attacks or defend when they come. But another way is through punishing those who violate the rules and laws of our society. There has to be a message to society that this behavior will not be tolerated.
How do we best send that message?
Montel Williams, given a voice because he’s on TV, says it’s done by locking them away and keeping them there until they die. Maybe. But that puts a burden on the tax payer to pay all of their needs for the next 70 years.
Are they worth paying their room and board for 70 years?
They didn’t kill anyone. So it’s hard to suggest the death penalty for them. In our day and age that’s usually reserved for murder. In times past they would have be hanged no doubt.
If I advocate for their deaths am I a bad person?
On one level I hesitate to think they should be killed. But there is a more practical part of me that says they should. They can’t be trusted in society and it’s not right for society to pay for their upkeep. That seems to leave us with either banishing them or killing them. I can’t imagine there is a nation that would accept them if we banished them. While I think banishment is a great option, it’s impractical in our modern world. In the old days of city states they would have been banished and if they tried to return anyone seeing them could kill them on sight.
I won’t say that I want them dead but part of me thinks society would be better off if they were. That’s the totally pragmatic part of me. But the part of me that is optimistic, that wants to think everyone can be reformed, doesn’t’ want to see that happen. But like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof…”on the other hand”.
What’s likely to happen?
More than likely they will get some years in prison then get out on parole then end up back in prison again. At some point it is reasonable for us to assume one or more of these four will become murderers. I’m not saying they will, I can’t predict the future, I’m just playing the odds and looking at what we know about sociopaths. Those who have no remorse do whatever they want. That’s what they did when they kidnapped someone, tortured them, and broadcast it live – whatever they wanted. That’s not how societies work nor how they can remain cohesive.
I don’t have the answer to my own question at this point. These are musing about something that makes me profoundly indignant and somewhat angry. I do suspect that whatever we do won’t be enough.