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  #11  
Old 06-16-2018, 12:18 PM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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This is after-the-fact journalism that neither distills nor adds to the thousands of words already written about this strange, sad man. Also, "bastille guillotine" is wrong in several ways.
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  #12  
Old 06-16-2018, 12:20 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Yes, Ted Kaczynski himself insists that he is sane, and he objected vehemently to his defense attorney's attempts to use an insanity defense, to diminish his legal culpability.

But there's a huge difference between legal culpability and moral culpability.

I am not suggesting that we should welcome serial killers back into society with open arms because the poor things just couldn't help being bad. That's ridiculous.

But this is a poem, not a parole board. It is making moral judgments, not legal judgments.

I happen to disagree with the moral judgments that the poem is making.

And I also disagree with the broader, implied premise that making such moral judgments is in any way beneficial to society.

As I've mentioned before, my family tree is teeming with sociopaths, many of whom have been held legally responsible, as is totally appropriate--although I feel obliged to point out that even that is woefully inadequate in many ways. Sending someone to prison doesn't repair the irreparable harm done to their victims, even if it's some small consolation to their victims to know that society recognized that harm, and tried to make the person who harmed them pay a price.

From a moral standpoint, though, I don't think it's in any way helpful to point at people whose consciences obviously aren't functioning correctly--i.e., whose capacity to tell right from wrong is damaged--and say that they are morally responsible for the evil they commit.

That's like blaming a blind man for not being able to see.

Although it's very satisfying to say, smugly--with the stolen fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil on our breath--that those who commit egregious acts are terrible, terrible people, I can't help thinking that some of our desire to do so is motivated by the desire to minimize our own sins by comparison.

I don't see how society is served by promoting the idea that virtue is graded on a curve, and therefore it's okay to be less than good, as long as you're not as bad as Ted Kaczynski. If we are feeling self-congratulatory that we are morally superior to serial killers, that's an awfully low bar to clear.

I also don't think that making an example of bad, bad people is an effective deterrent. It doesn't communicate "this behavior is inherently bad, so don't do it." To a person with a defective conscience, it communicates "you'll want to be sure to hide this behavior, because the consequences are severe if it's found out." Not the same thing at all.

Anyway, that's my rather long-winded personal perspective on this subject. Take it or leave it.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 06-16-2018 at 12:22 PM.
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  #13  
Old 06-16-2018, 04:42 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Originally Posted by Julie Steiner View Post
Although it's very satisfying to say, smugly--with the stolen fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil on our breath--that those who commit egregious acts are terrible, terrible people, I can't help thinking that some of our desire to do so is motivated by the desire to minimize our own sins by comparison.
Yes.

(Apparently this needs to be 10 characters.)
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Old 06-16-2018, 05:03 PM
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Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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Justin,

It has been interesting following this thread I would just like to point out that there are those who do not, for whatever reason, have the ability to look inside themselves.

Consequently, I find the poem more than a little facile.

Regards,

Jan
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  #15  
Old 06-17-2018, 08:46 AM
Justin Goodlow Justin Goodlow is offline
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Originally Posted by Julie Steiner View Post



Although it's very satisfying to say, smugly--with the stolen fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil on our breath--that those who commit egregious acts are terrible, terrible people, I can't help thinking that some of our desire to do so is motivated by the desire to minimize our own sins by comparison.
Just for the record, I don't believe that TK was a terrible person nor do I hold myself morally superior to him. In fact, I think to do what he did, to live the life that he lived, one would have to be a pretty virtuous, idealistic and steadfast person. TK was brilliant and, even though his ideas might have come from the wrong place, I admire his commitment and dedication to his cause. I would say the same for all the Hitlers, Stalins, Bin Ladens of the world as well.

I also do not think that TK lacked a moral conscience. Before he went on his bombing campaign, I am certain he asked himself perfectly rational questions, questions everyone should ask themselves:

Modern society is indeed radically screwed up; if you are miserable here, why not drop out and start bombing people? Those people he bombed were, for the most part, just average, completely replaceable people; cogs in the machine. Why not sacrifice them for the greater cause of spreading good ideas out into the world? On top of that, society made you feel miserable and isolated. Why not take revenge? You have a 168 IQ and feel you are a bastion of sanity in a world gone mad. Why not?

There is not an easy answer to these questions. In fact, even though most people refrain from radical evil, most people don't have an answer to these questions. In order to be a truly ethical, not just complacent person, it is imperative to have an answer.

I fault TK not for being a terrible person, but for someone of his stature not having an answer to these questions.

One finds an ethical answer to these questions when one admits to one's misery on a foundational level. In the last analysis, I think TK's dominant vice was dishonesty about himself. I agree- I think he was blind, albeit willfully blind. He sought revenge instead of forgiveness because, like Hitler, Stalin, Robespierre, he was full of self-righteous pride. He refused to sacrifice the image he carved of himself as the bringer of justice, the champion of the downtrodden, the destroyer of evil. This mentality is extremely dangerous.

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."- Friedrich Nietzsche
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  #16  
Old 06-17-2018, 11:00 AM
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Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
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TK was brilliant and, even though his ideas might have come from the wrong place, I admire his commitment and dedication to his cause. I would say the same for all the Hitlers, Stalins, Bin Ladens of the world as well.

Modern society is indeed radically screwed up; if you are miserable here, why not drop out and start bombing people? Those people he bombed were, for the most part, just average, completely replaceable people; cogs in the machine.
Have I really just read this, particularly that last sentence?

Words fail me...

Jayne
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  #17  
Old 06-17-2018, 11:42 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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An emphatic yes to all of what Jayne said.

Empathy unbridled is an anesthetic to the truth (though empathy harnessed is a guiding light).
x
x

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 06-17-2018 at 11:45 AM.
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  #18  
Old 06-18-2018, 02:14 AM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Justin, people with Asperger syndrome are famously good at certain types of intellectual feats, and famously bad at making sense of their own and others' emotions.

When they flounder socially and get ostracized or bullied, it's not because they just aren't trying hard enough to fit in and make friends. It's because they lack the social and emotional hardwiring that most people can take for granted as instinctual.

So I disagree with your premise that brilliant people's blindness about their own social shortcomings and emotional immaturity must be willful, because they should be brilliant enough to figure those things out, too. Not so.

This is not to say that I think Aspies should get a free pass to cause others various degrees of harm, ranging from rudeness to crime. (They shouldn't.)

This is to say that when I hear people condemn Aspies for lacking empathy toward their fellow human beings and for lacking awareness of their own flaws, it seems clear that Aspies aren't the only ones lacking those two things.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 06-18-2018 at 02:31 AM.
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