You know how people can get all bloodthirsty when someone commits a very serious and outrageous crime? You know, the kinds of crime that you see mobs of people gathering around the perpetrator as he/she is being apprehended? I think this is a reaction towards a wound that has been created by the crime, a wound that you can sense in your community or your soul. This is where mob mentality may prevail.
It’s also one of the reasons I support capital punishment for very serious crimes. First, to heal that wound, and second, because you can’t entirely trust mob mentality. Think about it, outrage can be subjective. Although many people are outraged by the same horrible crimes, some people get into angry mobs not because of any horrible crime, but for much more sinister reasons. You never know when you have a group of people using the whole mob mentality not for justice, but to harm liberty by beating up or even killing those who didn’t do anything wrong based on complete ignorance, like beating up on people for being gay or blowing some joints. As I talked about yesterday, there are countries in which not believing the same thing as everyone else can lead to everyone else to kill you where you stand. If that’s not proof that you can’t trust mob mentality, I don’t know what is.
In fact, I feel that psychopathic religious fundamentalists who violently oppress those who think differently are among the people I would reserve capital punishment for. If you kill someone to enforce religious conformity, then you deserve to lose your own life.
If you kill, rape, or violently abuse someone for any reason, including religious beliefs, then you deserve to be punished brutally and without mercy. This doesn’t necessarily require capital punishment unless the crime is at a level that is disgusting enough, but that’s not saying much. In fact, any capital punishment I do support should reflect the ugliness of the crime or the brutality they deserve, something that lethal injections don’t do.
The only problem I might have with capital punishment is that I fear it might enforce the idea of state power, and I have never liked that (which wouldn’t be such a problem if you could really on a mob mentality, but you can’t). On the other hand, my idea of a ideal society needn’t necessarily anarchistic, just a free society that really is free, and if state can co-exist with that then I needn’t worry. But I digress, the other thing that should be noted is that capital punishment isn’t something to be trifled with. You have to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that someone deserves it, otherwise you end up skewing justice.
In closing, whether it’s through capital punishment or something else, we need to at least do something regarding violent criminals that isn’t in any way merciful.