Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Humane Lynching?

 Lynching in New Orleans (1891)
Is it necessarily OK to be on the right side of a lynch mob? It’s enjoyable to feel self-congratulatory and seemingly good intentioned outrage? It’s almost like the catharsis that classical Greek tragedy provides. It’s relieving to finally have something to hate. But such hatred is the scourge of a society whose jurisprudence is predicated on due process. And is it any better than the hate generated by terrorist groups like ISIS or Boko Haram? What both have in common is a manichean view of the universe in which good and evil are simply defined? Great amounts of effort are expended on the rescuing of an American soldier, who it turns out might have been a deserter. A white cop shoots a black teenager under suspicious circumstances. A football player punches and knocks out his fiancé in an elevator. All three incidents have created a lynch mob attitude. Wouldn’t the biblical “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” be a better starting point in all manner of judgment?  Sometimes it seems like the ends—in this case punishing seeming cowardice, ending the murder of innocent black teenagers or preventing extreme domestic abuse—justify the means. But the whole nature of American democracy and what differs it from totalitarianism, in its political or religious iterations, is its emphasis on individual rights. It’s truly disconcerting when usually independent minded media pundits, who have trumpeted the ideals of a free and open society, stoke the fires of revenge.

1 comment:

  1. Well said. I'm glad you addressed this.


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