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View Full Version : an article about revenge

2004-07-30, 13:59
The following comments and quotes are based on an article which I've posted as an attachment here. The article excerpts are in gold.

"Acts of personal vengeance reflect a biologically rooted sense of justice, they say, that functions in the brain something like appetite. Alternately voracious and manageable, it can inspire socially beneficial acts of retaliation and punishment as well as damaging ones. The emerging picture helps explain why many people who think they are above taking revenge find themselves doing nasty, despicable things, and how unconscious biases pervert what is at bottom a socially functional instinct."

"Retaliatory acts, anthropologists have long argued, help keep people in line where formal laws or enforcement do not exist."
The motivations behind seeking justice are revenge. Christianity teaches people not to seek revenge or to be angry, but there would be no justice if they really did that. While "justice" is considered to be an academic affair that occurs in a court room, it actually is the State acting to take revenge in a controlled and consistent fashion so that individual victims and their families don't feel the need to take the law into their own hands.

"This kind of payback is closer to what sociologists and philosophers call just-deserts retribution. Dr. John M. Darley, a professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University, said such actions involve a deliberate effort to tailor the retribution to the crime, often taking into consideration as many relevant details about the offender and the offense as possible."
The best type of justice is one that is delivered by the person rather than by the State. The State and its laws are clumsy and the punishment often doesn't suit the crime, or is delivered way too late. Vigilante justice, which is done by individuals, is more accurate and suited in its deliverance. The Taliban government in Afghanistan allowed for victims or their families to participate more in the justice process, by allowing them to actually execute the guilty parties. While such a thing may be considered crude or barbaric, I think that type of justice is more fulfilling, and they ought to allow victims or their associates to pull the switch and be part of the execution team.

"Most vengeful acts are covert, researchers say, traveling in whispers and unforwarded phone calls, in knowing glances and nasty rumors."

"Few people want to look vindictive."

"Dr. Baron estimates that the ratio of indirect to direct acts of revenge is at least 100 to 1."
I think that ratio is way off. People don't like to look vindictive, but they also like to let the person know that he is being punished, and would have trouble punishing someone without taking credit for it.