Thursday, September 3, 2020

Revenge Is a Dish You Best Not Serve to the Innocent


Here's a good example for my last post.

If some people murder your son, you don't get to go out and burn the whole city down. At best, your anger should be directed at the people who murdered your son, and anyone who aided, abetted, or culpably enabled the murder to happen. You don't get to attack innocent bystanders or their property. And you don't get to tell yourself the seductive lie that everyone else enable the murder. 

A: "Hey, why are you burning down my house and my business?"

B: "Someone killed my son!"

A: "It wasn't me."

B: "I know that! Don't patronize me."

Another stupid thing I've seen people say in defense of person B is "Human lives are worth more than property!" Well, yeah, in general they are. But that's beside the point. 

Suppose an evil demon appeared out of nowhere and said, "I will either kill one random human or destroy one random, unoccupied car in a parking lot. Choose!" In this case, yes, you should have it destroy the car instead of killing a person, because the expected value of a human life is worth more than that property. 

(There are cases where saving property might trump saving a life. All the artwork in the Louvre vs. euthanizing nana one day early? Or what if the lives in question aren't valuable? If the demon threatened to kill all of ISIS or break one of my guitars, I'd have him kill ISIS and then would sleep extra soundly that night.)

But a (typical) human life being worth more than (most individual instances of) property doesn't serve as a justification for attacking innocent people's property. 

The people who say "human lives are worth more than property" as justification for looting rarely take that principle to its logical conclusion. They don't liquidate their own property in order to raise money to save lives. Hmmm. 

So, back to looting and rioting. Is your local police station corrupt and full of people who actively aided and abetted police abuse? Great, burn down the station. Burn their cars. Did the mayor turn a blind eye year after year? Go after his stuff too. Fine. Riots are the language of the oppressed, you might say, but then you should speak to your oppressors and not other oppressed people. But you don't get to attack random innocent people or their stuff in order to induce the innocent people to induce your desired political change. That's terrorism at best. 

As an aside, could you imagine how delighted 1960s KKK members would be if you describe to them what's happening in the US right now? "Police have been murdering black people, and to express their anger...[checks notes]... white young people are going around burning down...[checks notes]... black and minority people's homes and businesses."