"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Oct 15, 2009

Blood Debts and Human Sacrifice:

Shorter me: the death penalty is human sacrifice. It's blood magic.

Longer me, amalgamated from a discussion elsewhere:

"It’s the persistence of blood magic, the ancient and nearly perennial belief that the spilling of blood expiates crime.

It’s literally magical thinking – that the past can be redeemed or altered, and that epiphenomena can be animated, by the doing of current deeds.

The death penalty is human sacrifice.

At the risk of reading as a broken record, it’s an attempt at blood expiation, at rewriting the unalterable past by way of present actions, at “righting the order of the world.” Perhaps the gods aren’t invoked as often, but the same “balance restoring” logic is still employed: if the Gods/State/Society aren't expiated with a blood offering, more bad people will [insert unexplained magical mechanism] arise.

People who believe that the social order depends upon this sacred or mystical balance, and also believe in the human sacrifice that is the death penalty (or, let’s be honest here, locking up pot growers for their productive adult lives), will go to great political lengths to preserve that order.

Are you a death penalty advocate? If so, you have to ignore the disconnect between the arguments about functionality/process/legal merit and the ineluctable fact that the executed person’s death does not and cannot alter the past. Human sacrifice might feel good (that’s the emotional point of vengeance and its lawyerly cousin, punishment – to feel good about hurting someone with the sanction of peers, to get away with violence against those who “deserve” it). It might allow the beneficiary of that violence, or the one committing it, to feel as if order is restored. But it doesn’t erase the actions which allegedly merit punishment. Because we cannot alter the past.

No debt is paid. No balance is restored. No past acts are eliminated or erased. It’s just another de-animated corpse where a person once was. Because, while the magical thinking is real, the magic itself is not."

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