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Judging Judging
by Jan Sand
2006-11-14 10:46:38
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It has been said that no man is a scoundrel to himself. I doubt this is entirely true as some individuals surely glory in their capable scoundrelhood. Any graffiti violated wall bears witness to this. But perhaps this is the result of a strange reversal of personal values. Quite commonly, they are not congruent to accepted social traditions.

The Ancient Greeks, I have heard, exulted in being clever liars. This delight may bear official disapproval but current politics bears witness to the endurance of this tradition, probably because the ploy is reliably effective. Current USA politics is a clear demonstration of the irresponsibility of politicians and the gullibility of the average voter. Historians have pointed out that the victorious write history and this observation has been applied all the way from minor current disputes to the mythical original disagreement between Jehovah and Lucifer.

History from ancient times to the present is replete with human monsters excusing their frightful behavior with various motivations from selflessness to outright blinding ego. Somebody once noted that the world is more in danger from solutions than problems. There is a fanciful myth that human morality has improved through the ages but a casual glance at the contemporary scene exposes a long list of individuals, Stalin, Hitler, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Mao, Joseph Kony, and so forth to name just an obvious few, most of whom probably felt they were acting to humanity’s benefit to horrifying results.

A close inspection of almost all religions reveals that the original well-intentioned regulations laid down at their inception have universally resulted in the most disgusting human excesses in human history with the unassailable justification that these violently inhumane behaviors were sanctioned by God who is beyond either sensible evaluation or even minor criticism.

Religious fanatics in both Christian and Muslim sectors are still merrily at work in their villainous sprees murdering, torturing, and raping under the beneficent gaze of their respective deity and its local officials. Mysteriously their god seems closely respectful of local cultural traditions and somewhat bereft of any sort of reason. Bertrand Russell once pointed out that of all the virtues praised in the Bible, intelligence seems to have been totally neglected.

Legal systems are assumedly based primarily on social systems designed to provide society’s members with basic security from criminals and guarantees of integrity for financial and moral agreements. But criminality is slippery and fungible and changes with many of the whims and influences of powerful sectors of society. Legislatures that create the laws which legal systems enforce may consider themselves responsive to social morality and frequently to a documented compilation of social basics but all too often the imprecision of the language, perhaps originally designed for rational flexibility, is taken advantage of by the lawmakers for personal advantage or the advantage of powerful financial elements of society. Religious organizations which are structurally not very different from secular governments are similarly afflicted although their traditions are most frequently, not necessarily, based on rationality.

It must be noted that even secular governments are traditionally dominated by irrational and impractical basic assumptions. The whole system of crime and punishment is, to a very large degree, irrational and ineffective. The assumption that spending a random allotted time under restrictive control with no adjuncts of examination of the causes and problems involved of each prisoner will result in personality changes to the socialization of the individual incarcerated to the advantage of society is totally false. In effect a large proportion of criminal treatment is based more on social retribution than corrective treatment, much to the detriment of both the legal system and society in general and the convicted prisoner in particular.

So how are we to judge each other and ourselves? Social standards are most frequently either impulsively pragmatic, thoughtlessly traditional, influenced out of personal short-sighted gain, predetermined by precedents that may or may not be sensible or so adventurous as to be considered antisocial. It is a philosophical jungle replete with dangerous mental creatures that can maim or kill individuals and disease society for generations.

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