11A085 Vengeance by Jim Davies, 3/27/2011    

Last November 5th the ZGBlog outlined the gruesome, thrill-kill case that left Kimberly Cates dead and her daughter slashed. Five youths were found guilty in various degrees; Spader and Gribble were sentenced to prison for ever ("infinity is not long enough" said the latter's judge, though he probably meant "eternity") and a third will get maybe 30 years. Gribble had pleaded insane but that was rejected. At $30K/yr per captive, NH taxpayers will suffer the State confiscation of over $4 million to keep them caged.

Following the Gribble sentencing on Friday there was a storm of public comments. All those I saw expressed a deep and mindless obsession with vengeance. Most were satisfied with the permanence of the imprisonment; some were sorry the killers had not been sentenced to death. Many of them expressed horror at the killing and sympathy for the Cates family, and of course I fully endorse that - but the widespread equation of revenge with justice is very worrisome.

It's mindless, seeming to spring from the gut, somewhere profound. "Justice" is seen as a tit for tat arrangement; in the bowels of the NH public, a wrong needs not so much to be righted, as to be avenged with another wrong; an eye for an eye. This is how people perceive justice, and it matters because before a free, zero government society can function that kind of ugly nonsense has to be rooted out. We need to understand where it might have come from, and how to zap it.

It comes first from the religion that has infested our culture for some three thousand years; Exodus 21:23 directs that "thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe." Interestingly, that was canceled by Jesus for his new religion, in Matthew 5:38 he said "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." The trouble is that the new teaching failed to catch on; the damage had been done - quite possibly because the pure pacifism he expressed there is rightly perceived as unacceptable; that is not "justice" either.

It comes secondly from the upbringing we all have, within that culture. A child is "naughty", he or she gets "punished." A schoolboy is lazy, he gets penalized (a whacking, in former days.) A few thousand hours of exposure to TV while growing up (and since) convince us that properly, "crime" consists of the breaking of a government law and should be followed by "punishment." American society is civilized, so while the "punishment fits the crime" - perhaps - it's not literally eye-for-eye, but a measured amount of suffering, to balance the extent to which the law was violated. Thus is vengeance refined. The concept that the aggressor owes something to the person he hurt (and only to that person) is missing.

How can this grotesque misunderstanding be zapped? - only by education and rational thinking. TOLFA provides it, and the "Justice" subject is specifically addressed in one of its 18 segments. Perhaps other teaching vehicles will augment it. But there is no alternative. After a zero government society begins, there will be no place for vengeance; justice will be properly understood for what it truly is: the righting of wrongs, or the restoration of damaged rights. Nothing less will do.

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