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FREE, in 2010


10A002: Vengeance by Jim Davies, 8/2/2010

Yesterday a malicious psychopath crippled my PC with a cunning virus.

I can now begin to understand why so many people demand of the government justice system that it punish those who have hurt them in some way; they want to slake a thirst for vengeance. In this case, what would fit the crime; hack out his eyes, so that never again will he salivate over the doom-laden image he wants to inflict on a million peaceful screens? Hack off his fingers, so that they will never again inflict misery via his keyboard? Those would teach him what "hacking" is really all about.

Sure enough, government gladly responds to such sentiment by providing a vengeance machine, which it mis-names "justice" (something actually about restoring lost rights, restituting victims.) In so doing - when it manages actually to catch the perp - it infuses society with the fiction that it is needed, for a justice system to operate.

Long ago in English villages, and in Puritan New England, persons judged guilty of malfeasance were placed in stocks. This was a pair of heavy wood beams with slots for the arms, and sometimes the legs and neck, locked together when closed; the malefactor was fastened there in a public place and exposed to the scorn and vituperation of passers-by. It was punitive, because of the sharp discomfort of being constrained in that way for many hours or even days; but the main anguish suffered was more what was done to him by his fellow villagers. Jeering would be the least of it; rotten tomatoes and bad eggs would be thrown at his helpless head. His self-esteem would suffer sharply, as he learned what his neighbors thought about him. Sometimes rocks would be thrown, as well as softer missiles however revolting - and sometimes he could be whacked on the feet or the hind quarters, equally exposed.

In the relative calm of this following day, I realize that my nose would be put back in joint by $100 to pay for the repair, plus perhaps another hundred or two to compensate me for the disruption of my work flow. All a justice system has to do is to find the creep, and make him pay me. That's what justice will do, in a zero government society. And if the aggressor should refuse to pay what the free-market court ordered, he would find himself in stocks; not the physical kind, but a variety more damaging by far: a bad reputation, recorded for all the public to see on the Net, as a result of which he would be so despised and distrusted as to be unable to trade his labor and therefore to function in society. That would not be out of vengeance, but of self-interest; for who would want an unrepentant virus-maker anywhere close to his office computer?

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