"...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

Apr 19, 2012


To answer the questions and responses given in reply to the "Interrogatives" post below:

What differentiates victim and victimizer? The violation. It's a clear enough demarcation that we have separate words for the two poles of the relationship.

What justifies revenge? The choice to seek it.

What limit should a victim have imposed upon vengeance? None. There is no spiritual component to the universe which demands proportionality in retribution, or which punishes an over-reaction. If a person does not wish to have his dick chopped off for being a raping raper, for example, he should (a) not rape, (b) throw himself into a wood chipper, (c) self-defenestrate from a tall building or (d) drink a gallon or two of antifreeze, and then chase it with a glass or three of methanol.

Of course, this may seem to imply that victimizers should know better, but it does no such thing. A person does not have to know that others believe his actions to be characterized by wrongness in order for those actions to have consequences. In fact, I would submit to you that intentionality is a useless bellwether for judging the outcome of choices. Observationally, a rapist has raped regardless of his reasons. He doesn't have to know better. He has only to not rape. He has only to choose not to inflict harm.

And if that's the case, retribution is justified not by any urge to punish, correct or edify (which are silly Judeo-Christer obeisances to notion of sin)  - but by the simpler, cleaner and more manageable desire to requite harm because the original violation hurts.

Pain makes valid the victim's response, so long as he or she refuses to accept that pain should ever have been inflicted. Pain, in a cosmos where life is brief and nerve endings tuned to suffering, is the only justification a victim ought to require for herself.

Did he hurt me?


Then I may and perhaps even ought to hurt him back...


Will Shetterly said...

The key question there is "Did he hurt me?" Some people are, to be blunt, too crazy to answer that question objectively. Others are wrong--the more we learn about memory and eyewitnesses and human bia, the more we know that sane people can be very wrong.

Perhaps a better question is "Is he still a threat?"

Coldtype said...

Is he still a threat?

This is the standard that resonates with me. Yes, vengence feels good doesn't undo anything.

davidly said...

"Did he hurt me?" Some people are, to be blunt, too crazy to answer that question objectively.

No one can answer that question objectively.

davidly said...

Do what thou wilt, shall be a part of the law. The rest: Be prepared to suffer the consequences of your own actions.

Will Shetterly said...

davidly, I agree that humans aren't objective; that's much of the reason I do my best to reject anyone's idea of revenge or punishment.

But some humans are simply insane. Does a woman who is dressed in a way you don't like hurt you somehow so you're justified to hurt her? Are there people you hate so much that you think their existence hurts you? Or when one member of a group does something that hurts you, all of them have hurt you and deserve to suffer?

And there's a much simpler question to answer before deciding you're entitled to revenge: Is your memory perfect?

One thing I can say: "Did he hurt me?" is purely subjective.

davidly said...

Will, you are responding to Jack's post as if he were suggesting the codification of law, and he is doing anything but. Am I wrong, Jack?

Nevertheless, if we're going to discuss the merits of individual memory's worthiness of retaliation, I wouldn't mind a discourse on the the effectiveness of a state trial's ability to affect justice.

davidly said...

Scratch that. I would mind aforesaid discourse. It was rhetorical.

Will Shetterly said...

davidly, I meant to be more general. I'm suspicious of any rationalization of revenge, whether it's by the individual or the state.

Jack Crow said...

Not wrong, Davidly. I'm suggesting that the individual victim is the only reasonable arbiter of the appropriate response to victimization, and that there are no objective, universal, deontological, innate, native, encoded restraints against that response.

That is not, from my eye, a validation of every possible reaction. And since I am doing the think-labor of rejecting universals, I don't think a consensus standard of harm, or threat, actually grants the individual the liberty of response.

That doesn't mean people won't or can't fuck up requital, retribution and revenge - but, as you note, as far as shit goes (and it goes and goes and goes), I'd rather individualized and familiar revenge, that what organized hierarchies with armed staffers and captive resource bases can accomplish with "justice."


Threat is subjective, in the end. That doesn't commend for or against it - but it's use as a value judgement is certainly determined by the certainty of those with the power to enforce its definition.


I cannot reject vengeance anymore than I can reject human cruelty. We can account for them. We cannot negate them.

Jack Crow said...

...and to expand a little further: enforced and enforceable social mores have a tendency to leave out recourse and redress for the excluded.

I submit to you that it is easier for CapitalOne to get a judgment against a former credit client than it is for a woman to exact official revenge upon her rapist...

Will Shetterly said...

Jack, I'm sympathetic, but I think it's better for a community to give a second opinion on what's recourse and redress. Otherwise, you're in Hatfield and McCoy territory.

davidly said...

I'd say that we're in Hatfield and McCoy territory anyway and that any potential beyond that is still just speculation. I mean, I can imagine turf retribution getting out of hand, as it were. On the other hand, I don't really believe that the only reason there isn't more of it is because the law keeps it in check.

Anonymous said...

"I'm suggesting that the individual victim is the only reasonable arbiter of the appropriate response to victimization, and that there are no objective, universal, deontological, innate, native, encoded restraints against that response. "

So a man who's been victimized by a woman is justified in taking revenge by raping her to death. Got it.

Jack Crow said...

Not sure how you reach that conclusion, Karl.

Brian M said...

But Karl's conclusion is the logical one to your ethos, Jack.

"That bitch done me wrong. No State, no person, no rule, no morality can tell me that my chosen punishment, to rape her to death, is a worthy punishment for that wrong. Nothing except countervailing force. So...individual fortified family compounds up the hollers is the result.

And off I go.

There is nothing in your anti-system that can respond to that logical conclusion.

Jack Crow said...


Is it too unseemly to suggest that this "conclusion" already largely holds true, especially for those with the money to see it through?

And yet, most people do not act disproportionately.

With one notable exception: those in the service of, or benefiting from the existence of, Leviathan.

All that concentration of wealth and power seems to correlate, if not correspond with, excessive reactions.