Monday, December 9, 2013

A utilitarian view of justice?

From a reader:

I am an empath who has been reading your blog with interest. I thought I'd share with you something I read recently about the Moï (a pre-modern society), from an older British book (from the 50s) about Vietnam and Southeast Asia (the book is called "A Dragon Apparent" by Norman Lewis). What's interesting about the Moï's view of justice is that it's very utilitarian and doesn't involve any special kind of outrage at anti-social activities. It's an example of a system of justice that isn't based on morality, but on expediency. Feel free to use this in your blog, if you find it interesting as I do (keeping in mind that Lewis is a journalist and travel writer, not an anthropologist).  Here's an excerpt:

"The other aspect of the Moï way of life that seems to have created the greatest impression upon those who have studied them is that, although, by Occidental standards, crimes are few, the conceptions of right and wrong seem to be quite incomprehensible to them. In their place, and incidentally governing conduct by the most rigid standards, are the notions of what is expedient and what is not expedient. The Moï is concerned rather with policy than justice. Piety and fervour have no place in his ritual observations. Contrition is meaningless. There is no moral condemnation in Moï folklore of those who commit anti-social acts.


"Among the Moïs retribution is swift and terrestrial. The wicked – that is, the ritually negligent man – is quickly ruined. If he continues to pile up spiritual debts he is certain of a sudden death – the invariable sign that the ghostly creditors, becoming impatient, have claimed his soul for nonpayment.

"The thing works out in practice much better than one might expect. Crimes against the individual such as theft or violence are viewed as contravening the rites due to the plaintiff’s ancestral manes. The aggressor, however, is seen as no more than the instrument of one of the spirits who has chosen this way to punish the victim for some ritual inadequacy. The judge, therefore, reciting in verse the appropriate passage of common law, abstains from stern moralization.


"There is no distinction among the Moïs between civil and criminal law and no difference is made between intentional and unintentional injury. If a man strikes another in a fit of temper or shoots him accidentally while out hunting, it is all the work of the spirits and the payment to be made has already been laid down."

 Excerpted from A Dragon Apparent by Norman Lewis (first published in 1951) 

I remember there was some discussion a while back about the benefits of restorative justice over retributive justice. Despite the proven benefits of an amoral justice system over one that demands blood for blood, people insist on clinging to an idea of people as being evil and deserving of punishment for the crime yes, but particularly for the temerity to challenge the conventional moral and social order. 


  1. Not long ago new revelations came out about the 14 year old boy
    in Mass. that killed his math teacher.
    Initially, it was believed to be a simple "rage killing." But slowly, more
    details have emerged.
    It turns out that the crime was well planned. He took the box cutter, a
    set of long rubber gloves, and extra pairs of clothing WITH him to school on the day of the murder.
    He contrived to stay after class. His beautiful young teacher went into
    the student girls room because the faculty bathroom was locked.
    He followed her in and punched her in the face. He DID NOT immeadiately slash her with the box cutter as believed. The 6'2 boy
    began raping her. Another student briefly entered the bathroom and
    say his naked backside "in action." Her mind couldn't process what was going on. She assumed that someone was "changing," so she
    simpily left.
    As part of the rape process, he shoved blunt objects in her vagina and
    anus. He then slashed at her with the box cutter, leaving a bloody mess in the bathroom.
    He was captured on film transporting the body to a wooded area behind the school. He stripped the 24 year old teacher's body, shoved
    a 3 foot long tree limb into her vagina, and left a note saying: "I hate
    you all!" near the body. He was captured around 12 midnight casually
    walking down the street, after having taken in dinner and a movie.
    On him, the police discovered the murder weapon and the teacher's
    I have my own theories as to why he did it. He was (like school shooter Adam Lanza) an angry introvert who couldn't "get" a girl
    any other way. So, the murderous plan grew gradually in his mind.
    He thought he could get away with it, so that's why he did it.
    This being a sociopathic blog, there must be a few others who have
    comitted such crimes and gotten away with it. Am I right in my
    assessment? Ted Bundy said that his motivation in "taking" his victims
    was to "own a female person."

    1. Clearly not intelligent enough to get away with it, just a sloppy job. It really is not hard to plan and execute a murder...hypothetically of course.

    2. @anon 3:01 AM-I don’t think adam lanza and ted bundy killed their victims, because deep down they loved them. It’s funny how superempaths see everything as a product of love, love , love or hate, hate, hate. I assume for them love/hate are two sides of the same coin. (correct me, if I am wrong)
      I am sure everyone, empaths & non-empaths, have that coin, but its value is different- for some it might be a gold coin, and for some others a penny. I think, as we give more value to that coin, more irrational/judgmental decisions we make- just my opinion.

    3. @Original Anon, I'm afraid you'll almost certainly be disappointed by asking if anyone here has ever killed another person, for obvious reasons.

      While I couldn't possibly back up Unburdened's assessment of murder as being easy to plan and execute (how would I know?!), I would certainly stress that hanging on to the murder weapon and an intimate possession of the victim's is hardly the best way to go about escaping the law. Shows a lack of planning, TBH.

      Surely the first thing you'd do would be to jettison any incriminating items into the nearest large body of water or remote area? Or so I am told...

    4. Maybe he dodnt give a ehit. Maybe he was just a brazen authority hater, and not being careful was part of the big "fuck you" .

  2. Don't really see the utilitarianism in this, apart from the focus on the outcome rather than the intent. I'd say that any judicial system that is based on the idea that people's wrongful actions are controlled by evil spirits is fundamentally flawed, just as I would oppose Biblical law or Sharia being imposed on the justice systems of western-style democracies.

  3. very descriptive original anon. poor teacher to be his target. i had no idea thats how it all happened. i think we are all capable of murder. put the right recipe for disaster in front of us, boom. everyone of us. victims are dehumanized. worthless objects. its sad. but when one does it for the thrill, its sick, and its so twisted inside of their minds. most are smart, highly intellectual. but many devalue the victim as worthless. people. we all can get urges out of rage, images to kill, but most of us have a filter not to do it, hold back. Its just a NO NO. specially cold-blooded shit. And when you do, consequences. extreme consequences. see, I have the urge tonight to kill the gingerbread man. He hasn't baked my cookies yet. so he's in trouble.

    1. Hey Super Chick, First of all, I am the anon @ 8:45, and I thought to clarify something for you in case intellectually you could not grasp it.

      Original anon@ 3:01 said “He was (like school shooter Adam Lanza) an angry introvert who couldn't get a girl any other way. So, the murderous plan grew gradually in his mind…… Ted Bundy said that his motivation in taking his victims was to "own a female person."
      I found his hypothesis that they “killed” because they “loved” their victims very black and white/ judgmental/irrational. I am aware that super empathetic people, like you, for everything that they love, they hate something else (two sided coin). But it can lead to prejudism, hate-mongering, tribalism….it's dogmatic and at the same time immoral. Unfortunately, your types adhere to it like a gold coin, paying high high prices for their black and white thinking. I prefer neither LOVE nor HATE anyone. It might be cheap but nobody gets harmed. So, I basically objected with his (original anon) way of thinking.
      Please, control your “urges” before you lash out at someone who does not think like you. You are being very hateful for what you love.

    2. I actually very much agreed with what you said in your original post. I was making a statement in the description of the actual killing. Where have i spewed out hate? (besides adding some humor to the gingerbread man). And yes, I admit I ain't know intellect, but I ain't stupid either. I grasped what you wrote.
      Question: how do you have me figured out in your description of "the two-sided coin." I see what you are trying to imply, but I am far from being black and white in my thinking, prejudiced and hatemongering. That ain't me.

    3. and this was not written at 6:16am, its actually 9:16am. we are all on different time zones

    4. Lols @ unburdened, yr right. yes, i shall show him the milks. ;-)

  4. Adam Lanza was extreme on the sociopathic spectrum (couldnt feel pleasure or pain, any close human contact probably felt like an attack), very different from Bundy, a high functioning human impersonator, and also very different from some kid who cannot control his hormonal rushes and was disorganised to the point of wanting to be captured.

  5. @ psykopath

    I don't understand. How can something "feel like an attack" without being "painful"?
    How can someone not feel "pleasure" but have "hormonal rushes"?

  6. Hormonal rush ....pms ??


Comments on posts over 14 days are SPAM filtered and may not show up right away or at all.

Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies


Comments are unmoderated. Blog owner is not responsible for third party content. By leaving comments on the blog, commenters give license to the blog owner to reprint attributed comments in any form.