Monday, February 21, 2011

One For The Guardian

Next time there's a Guardian article (and there will be, soon) on crime and punishment, and the usual suspects show up to contrast their empathy for the murderer of the moment with the sick, punitive authoritarianism of what I'd call 'my side' of the argument, I hope someone links to this, by a surgeon in South Africa (now there's a country for surgeons, if you like plenty of work).



Retardo said...

In fairness, I could imagine something very much like the surgeon's post, written about casualties in Iraq or Afghanistan. No doubt there have been civilians killed by coalition troops in both cases. That's not the intent, but in war, it happens. Hell, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was the intent.

So somebody could write — I'm certain a lot of somebodies have written — a post with ghastly blood-and-feces detail about a civilian victim of that kind of thing. It would be just as wrenching, just as horrible, but you and I would tend to say "you have to understand". Or words to that effect.

I don't happen to see any moral equivalence between your and my excuses, and that South African Guardianista's excuses. But if you're not going to be a pacifist, you're signing up to accept that truly horrible things are going to be done to people who don't deserve it. And when somebody describes those things to you, as they may, what are you going to do, pretend you didn't expect anything like that? If he's wrong, it's not because of the depth of suffering he's justifying. It's because the justification is mistaken.

And if you are a pacifist, you're signing up to stand by admiringly while those horrible things are done, hold the SS's coats while they do them, and adoringly beg to lick the blood and feces off their boots after they're done.

Actually, in a lot fewer words: "Just shut up and look how fucking horrible this is!" is not a compelling moral argument in itself. I have the most profound admiration for that surgeon's courage, dedication, and humanity. Not so much for his or her logic.

Word verification: "potaterr". But I say "po-TAHH-terr".

Laban said...

Couldn't agree more. But the people doing this in SA

aren't fighting a war - or if so they haven't declared it

are deliberately doing these things to innocents

and, when caught, have an army of media and pressure group exculpators - which you WON'T find in the Guardian when, say, some US troops deliberately kill Iraqi civilians, as has happened.

Retardo said...

Quite agree about "not fighting a war": It's just random sadism for kicks. That's why I like your and my excuses better than that dude's.