Friday, July 21, 2006



Why is vigilantism bad?

After not being able to sleep last night, I popped the movie Boondock Saints in the DVD. It's always been one of my favorites!!

So after watching some of it I thought about the State's monopoly on law and police enforcement. If they set what appropriate activity is (both ethically and legally), then what is essentially 'good' and 'bad' is dictated or atleast influenced by state officials - judges, legislators, and law enforcement officers.

Vigilantes are in competition with that monopoly and historically governments have not been too keen on the idea. Much the same way that militias have lost support and gained a significantly more negative conotation.

Power of the individual to act against what they know to be wrong is discouraged. Is this necessarily a good thing? I know at first thought it looks like a really bad idea, but for the majority of people, why not? Is a lynch mob any 'better' than capital punishment? In my mind the only thing seperating them is a thin veil of "legitimacy".

Great movie. I love Boondock Saints.

In most cases, Chris, you're probably right. The only real difference is legitimacy.

But I am concerned that with vigilantism is that there's no trial. So, there might be less certainty of guilt. We have a judicial procedure (albeit flawed) to try to determine beyond a doubt whether the accused is guilty. This is notably absent in vigilantism.

The cases I'm thinking of are those of "lynch mobs." Unthinking, rash, and possibly biased, lynch mobs might not be acting rationally.
Jenna captures my concerns and thoughts to the letter.
Is there anyone acting in the best interest of the alleged criminal, atleast in the case of a public defender? The government is essentially taking itself to court.

An interesting thing to look at -- is someone being defended by a 'public defender' more likely to lose the case?
Let's suppose it's true that public defenders are more likely to lose cases.

There's still the possibility of getting a private defense attorney. There's no chance of that against a vigilante.

I hate defending the status quo institution, but I had to point that out.

Really, I think we should have private courts - that might solve the "government taking itself to court" business. Also, there shouldn't be any such thing as "crimes against the state." Crimes are committed against victims (individuals), not the state.
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