Thursday, May 01, 2008


This has been bothering me for a couple of days. Like most people I read the awful story of the Austrian who kept his daughter locked up for 24 years. A day or two later I read the AOL blog listing -- bloggers who reacted to the news. I think there were 17 listed and more but I couldn't bear to go on. Nearly all the bloggers showed their righteous indignation and holier than thou emotions by calling for horrible punishments. Thee was so much cumulative violence in the blogs it was almost as sickening as the man's evil. I very recently read Gandhi's comment that if we practice and eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth we will soon live in a world of blind, toothless people. How easy it is to call for death sentences ano but any kind of vio ence only perpetuates more violence.

In the history of civilization, societies have, so far as I know, always had methods of dealing with deviants, people whose actions were understood to be unacceptable to the society. Often it was exile which, during primatie times was s de facto death sentene. But that was within the rules of the society. These bloggers seen not to understand that Austria, like the United States, is a country that believes in the rule of law. The crime has been discovered, the man arrested, the victims are being cared for, society is dealing with this sick and horrible man. I will not say the bloggers should practice compassion -- they seem incapable of that and if they protest it would be wrong, I understand. But they should consider their own knee-jerk rsactions which were inherently violent and their public stances. Have they made themselvs happier or improved the world in any way with their vicious anger? Can their condemnation help the victims? Can such calls for violence perpetuate a better world?

I will add that one blogger's ugly anti-Semitic post was quickly denounced by others as was appropriate. But, like this ignoramous, many of the other bloggers were ill or incompletely informed; they simply tapped out their anger before they knew quite what they were talking about. I've waited a couple days and it has continued to bother me. Have people forgotten entirely about Plato's "Know thyself?"

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