My Moral Compass is Askew

Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Via Lance, I have become aware of a woman in Spain who set fire to her daughter's rapist.

Yes, you read that correctly. She doused her daughter's rapist in petrol, lit a match, watched long enough to ensure he was burning briskly, then walked away.

Which inspired this internal monologue:

Janiece the Mom: Serves that fucker right! Good for her!

Janiece the Liberal: What? She set that man on fire! What is wrong with you?

JTM: Get over yourself. That man raped her baby girl. Who was 13 years old.

JTL: He was found guilty by the Spanish legal system and given an appropriate sentence. It's not up to citizens to punish the guilty. That way lies anarchy.

JTM: Anarchy-Smanrachy. He raped her baby girl. I'd to the same if some reprobate raped my Smart Daughter.

JTL: You might think you would, but you wouldn't. You wouldn't be able to live with the guilt of having tortured another human being to death.

JTM: Maybe the guilt would kill me, but the fucker who hurt my baby girl would also be dead. Dead as a doornail. Which is what he deserves.

JTL: But that makes you no better than the rapist!

JTM: Whatever. I'm a mother, and revenge would be mine.

JTL: Your moral compass is askew. Bad behavior on someone else's part doesn't justify it on yours, and you know that. You've tried to teach your kids that.

JTM: I've also tried to teach them that I would walk through the fires of hell for them. Or in this case, I'd force the degenerate to walk through the fires of hell. Don't mess with my kids.

JTL: So your hypocrisy is justified as long as you can hurt the person who hurt your child?

JTM: Damn skippy. Don't mess with my kids.

JTL: You're a barbarian, you know that?

JTM: Now you understand.

I'm so confused...

22 comments:

Cindi in CO said...

If it would make you feel any better, Aunt Beanie would be happy to set fire to your daughter's hypothetical rapist.

Really. I wouldn't mind.

That is, if her Uncle didn't get to him first.

John the Scientist said...

Well, there is a JTS/D and there's a JTB (Baptist) who have had the same conversation.

JTD won.

John the Scientist said...

Wait, wait, wait, I went and read the article.

First his sentence was reduced.

Then they gave him a 3 day pass?!?

This wasn't the fucking Army, it was prison. For a violent offense.

WTF?

Even JTL has to boggle at that. There's liberal and there's inexcusable.

Tania said...

As someone who has been known to describe herself as "Pro-Death" I'm ok with the death sentence. And we've hashed out our opinions on that before.

In my not even remotely humble opinion, some crimes are heinous enough that justice is really only served by removal of the perpetrator from existence.

Burning's too risky. I'd be all for execution style shooting, knife usage, etc. Torture is tempting when under a hot rage, but my anger tends to run cold and deliberate. As much as I might find the burning SATISFYING, I won't risk the desired final result.

Great FSM. I hope I didn't scare anyone with that.

Janiece Murphy said...

Cindi, I suspect various family members would have to draw straws.

Because we're a family of barbarians.

John, I didn't get it either - and the fact that he baited the mother is extenuating circumstances, at least to me.

And Tania, you're only a little scary. Once one accepts the death penalty as an appropriate response, negating torture as a means to that end is not a bad position to take.

John the Scientist said...

Well, I'm pro death, too, but to me "cruel and unusual" is defined by the crime. Torture for a drunk driver hitting my kid? No. Bullet to the head.

But a rape?

We'd be asking Hannibal Lecter's immortal question: "guts in, or guts out?"

Guts out.

Lance Weber said...

Janiece I knew you'd nail this way better than I could.

Tania, the kind of burns this guy got I'd be okay if he lived with the crippling pain the rest of his life, but the good news is he got the best of both worlds: he lingered for ELEVEN days in agony before dying. I'm good with that.

Janiece Murphy said...

John, I'm afraid JTM and JTS/D part ways on that one.

While I think you may be able to make a case for the death penalty as a moral and just outcome in certain cases (a position I know you hold, but one I'm deeply ambivalent about), I don't think you can make a case for torture, even for the most heinous crimes. The moral cost to the torturer is just too high.

Janiece Murphy said...

Lance, the delay in posting was due to the internal monologue - which then became the entry.

Ah, stream of consciousness, how you entertain me.

Lance Weber said...

My problem was too many voices:

Lance the Dad: exact copy of JTM

Lance the Viking: Ja! Ja! Burn You Piece of Shit! And take his women and children for thralls!

Lance the Geek: Hmm, would gas be the best possible accelerant? Let's see, you could go with phosphorous...ohhh thermite...maybe something in a gel...

Lance the Progressive: Hey, what about my point of vi***mmph*** Let me**grzhlk**

Lance the Dad/Viking/Geek to Lance the Progressive: Shut the fuck up, you don't get a vote on this one. Got it? You veto our reactions all the time in the name of "civilized behavior", but not this time. We'll let you out of the fucking box at the trial, okay?

vince said...

I am definitely not Pro-death, however, the rapist got a 3 day pass (WTF) which allowed him the freedom, apparently, to go anywhere he chose (WTF squared). What he chose was to seek out the mother of his rape victim to taunt her.

She snapped - what parent wouldn't - and if that happened here and I was on the jury, I could not and would not find the woman guilty.

If it had been me, there's little doubt that I would have snapped as well, only I would have used a gun.

John the Scientist said...

No, Janiece, I didn't mean that the State should do that. I meant that if the State didn't do it's business by locking the guy up forever or killing him, that what I'd do. With out a twinge of regret.

The state should execute quickly. But I see nothing cruel or unusual about hanging in a public place.

Janiece Murphy said...

John, please move over to the "Barbarian" camp, please.

Later we'll be hunting our own food with a stick and a rock.

Hehe.

;-)

MWT said...

HEADLINE: Woman sets fire to daughter's rapist.

ME: Hmm. Well, see, we have justice systems, so that a neutral third party can decide what constitutes appropriate punishment of wrongdoers. It shouldn't be up to the woman.

COMMENTS HERE: The rapist was out of jail on a 3-day pass, and chose to use that time to taunt the woman.

ME: Oh. Well then. He fully deserved what he got.

NEWS STORY: This took place in a crowded bar.

ME: Hrm. I think we're back to the previous commentary about justice systems. The woman should (at least) pay for damages to the bar and other patrons.

NEWS STORY: Also, the taunting was only arguably taunting. It's not like he sought her out specifically to taunt her.

ME: I think that, on the whole, I'm glad I'm not the one that has to make decisions on these things. o.O

Lance Weber said...

You raise a good concern about the bar, but as she didn't do it in the non-smoking section I think it's okay.

John the Scientist said...

"NEWS STORY: Also, the taunting was only arguably taunting. It's not like he sought her out specifically to taunt her."

MWT, you're really, really off base there. First, he went to where he might reasonably find relatives of his victim. He didn't care if he did or he didn't. he went to where HE felt comfortable.

Then, when seeing a relative of his victim, he didn't slink off in shame, he took the opportunity to attack. If he'd planned it, you might think there was some emotion there, some excuse, imagined slight, whatever. But the casual encounter shows this is a man who totally does not give a shit about anyone else on this Earth but himself. He's a true sociopath, and eliminating him from the land of the breathing was the right thing to do.

mattw said...

Without having read the news story, I don't know that I would have acted much different than the mother.

Although maybe I would have tried to remove his "weapon" like Bruce Willis did to That Yellow Bastard in Sin City before killing him.

Nathan said...

Janiece, your moral compass is just fine. The justice system exists primarily because your reaction is both typical and expected. Those who are close to the situation are expected to want vengeance. Society is (theoretically) better served by a cold impartial system that judges and punishes without being colored by the heat of emotions. Your empathy here would have kept you off the jury (in a perfect world).

And it's easily arguable that the authorities failed miserably by giving this guy a pass at all; by allowing him to visit the neighborhood where he was certain to encounter this woman. He's no more or less warped than he was when he committed the original crime and should have still been in jail.

I don't know the justice system there, but I suspect the woman has a great insanity defense. I can live with that.

RickU said...

I'm an anti-death penalty, but not because I don't think it's an appropriate punishment/response for justice to be done.

The reason I'm anti-death penalty is because our Justice system is flawed and if even 1 innocent man is put to death because of that it's makes the application of that punishment unacceptable.

We have clear proof in the US that has been the case, so out goes the DP for me.

I think the Mom was perfectly justified. I won't call myself a liberal or a conservative but there are times when not only is vigilante justice is not only appropriate but a moral imperative when the state has failed to do its duty.

***hah. I said duty.

Janiece Murphy said...

Welcome, RickU.

The death penalty is a very complex and morally ambiguous topic, and one I'm very ambivalent about (for a variety of reasons).

But Nathan makes the salient point - in a society that attempts to maintain some level of civilized behavior, punishment should not be meted out by the mother of the victim, but by an unbiased arbiter whose duty it is to establish some level of justice.

Hehe. I said "duty," too.

mom in northern said...

Re: Family members and the use of fire...

You forget one thing. Smart girl would be anything but a willing victum. She knows where the matches are...

MWT said...

Lance: Huh. Well the news story didn't specify whether it was smoking or non-smoking, but ... what if it WAS non-smoking? A whole new level of complexity!! o.O

John: He passed her on the street on the way into the bar and said "how's your daughter?" and that's all he said/did. It's arguable whether that counts as taunting (especially since we have nothing on tone of voice, etc.).

And I'm not seeing anything wrong with him going somewhere where he felt comfortable. He went to his hometown because that's where he wanted to go, not because he was planning to seek out his victim or her family. The fact that he wanted to go home makes sense to me, considering he'd been in jail for several years. That they happened to cross paths was a coincidence.

At least, that's my read of the news story. We also don't know how big this city is, how likely they were to cross paths, etc. But I'm just not seeing the malice you're ascribing him. And thoughtlessness is usually the correct explanation before malice.