1/24/12

On Not Being A Murderer

The Lexwerks

The Le
T eet Li e

e k
de e

On No Being A M
December 8, 2011

“I did that,” says my memory. “I could not have done that,” says my pride, and remains inexorable. Eventually — the memory yields. –Nietzsche, Be ond Good and Evil

So when I m staring at Re ol ed: I i mo all pe mi ible fo ic im o e deadl fo ce a a delibe a e e pon e o epea ed dome ic iolence, I realize that these debate topics really are getting worse. I am afraid, I am genuinely fearful, of what some kids are going to go spouting off for their affirmative cases. See, they re going to be merging two claims that I just can t reconcile: “I committed cold-blooded premeditated murder. And I m a good person.” And I just can t imagine that they re going to say anything that could re-affirm my alleged faith in humanity. What I can imagine is that they ll make me want to go home and consult my liquor cabinet for the opinion of Dr. Rum, which is a terrible way to reaffirm my faith in humanity. So here s what I d generally say against them… There s an old saying that it s easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission. And I suspect that it s especially true when asking, as the affirmative is, for permission to commit not just murder, but premeditated murder. We know it s premeditated because they re asking for permission. But let s analyze the resolution a bit: U e Deadl Fo ce: this indicates that somebody is going to die. Not just have a few bones broken. Not just be shown the error of their ways. But rather die, absolutely. That is what deadly means. It seems reasonable, in the context of a response, that it will be the person inflicting the Repeated Domestic Violence (but this is not an absolute certainty based on the result of the deliberations). Repea ed Dome ic Violence: this indicates that there are extenuating circumstances to the use of deadly force. But this is also low bar — we re not talking about kidnapping somebody, or sexually abusing them, both of which tend to not be classified as “domestic” at all. Yet it is not an entirely low bar, as the domestic violence is repeated domestic violence. The thing about “repeated” means that it become
www.lexwerks.com/article/on-not-being-a-murderer/ 1/5

1/24/12

On Not Being A Murderer

The Lexwerks

a pattern of domestic violence and, importantly, is predictable. Deliberate Response: these words really slow down the action of using deadly force. This isn t a matter of accidentally shooting somebody who is threatening you. This is deliberating over an assortment of options and deciding that the best response, the best option to be held response-able for, to the domestic violence that is predictably going to happen isn t just murder, but murder that has — at this point — been premeditated. Permissible: indicates the source of permission, or what the person is coming to for authorization or consent prior to the action. In other words “Hey, I ve gone over my options and I really think I should kill that son-of-a-bitch. Is that okay?” But “Is that okay” isn t really the modifier because of the word… Morall : The question of morality is a question of “is it good or bad,” requiring judgment. So the question isn t “is that okay?” but rather “can I still be a good person?” And that s what the affirmative is really asking about: Can somebody still be considered a good person if they commit premeditated murder? The crucial thing to bear in mind is that if the extenuating circumstances render the action amoral, then we have not demonstrated moral permissibility, but rather the limitations of appealing to morality for authorization to do what we think — whether rationally or irrationally — has to be done. Now generally as a society, we like to not think that a victim is able to rationally deliberate their way to the belief that premeditated murder is a good thing to commit. When a victim uses deadly force, we believe that the abuse has driven them to irrational behavior, to primal behavior, to amoral behavior. Murder is bad, but the extenuating circumstances may prevent us from passing that judgment — and that prevents us from establishing that murder in those circumstances is morally permissible in the same way it prevents us from deeming that murder to not be morally permissible (though in both cases, after the fact so it s no longer a question of permissibility at all). But what if society is so rotten, so horrid, that the victim can be of sound mind and have no better recourse than premeditated murder? At this point, the murderer becomes amoral not because they have become primal, but because the morality of their society is not adequate to judge the goodness or badness of their actions. In as much as they are incomparable, they have gone beyond the definitions of good and evil (as Nietzsche would put it). The words exist only to communicate meaning between people, so the murderer would have to change the definition of “good” from what could be recognized, thus moving them into amoral territory. Had anybody else been available and willing to deem the murder “morally permissible” then there would have almost certainly been another option for ending the abuse that didn t involve premeditated murder. I don t think society is that rotten or horrid, but I m not a young woman living in the tribal regions of Afghanistan so I understand that my perspective may be limited. The affirmative wants you to believe that somebody can repeatedly find themselves in a bad situation — not so bad as being kidnapped or raped repeatedly, but still on the receiving end of physical violence — and rationally think about how to respond to the situation, and decide that premeditated murder — not leaving, not calling for help, not calling police, not even merely wounding the abusive bastard, breaking a few bones with a tire iron for example — but premeditated murder really is the right thing to do, based on our general understanding of how good people, morally upstanding people, behave. Because good people commit premeditated murder all the time, don t you know? I m reminded of a story where some Jewish Rabbis thought it would be good to commit premeditated murder. So they take an adulteress — because they weren t particularly libertine in their views on sexuality — to a leading philosopher of the day, a guy named Jesus (or Joshua, really — it was the same name, we ve just
www.lexwerks.com/article/on-not-being-a-murderer/ 2/5

1/24/12

On Not Being A Murderer

The Lexwerks

translated it two different ways) asking for him to confirm that what they were going to do was morally permissible. And he says to them, “Well, the law says your actions are okay. But I think you really should let the one of you who is in every way blameless of any wrongdoing, ever, start the execution.” And there s this quiet moment as they think about how good they are good at seeming to be, but they all know their shortcomings. They are moral upstanding people based on their society s understanding of morality. But moral enough to continue being good while committing premeditated murder even though their law said it was okay? Maybe not so much. And as they re thinking about this, as they re thinking “Hey, I m a good person” — because that s how our pride, how our ego, defends our psyche — they realize “And I won t be if I m a murderer.” And so they wander off. They exit the situation. And when they re gone, Jesus turns to the woman and says “Huh, they re not condemning you to death after all. And neither am I. Live well.” And the thing that is deeply interesting about this story is that there is no moral permissibility given. There is neither consent nor condemnation for anybody in it. It is, on the whole, entirely amoral: nothing actually happens. And yet the one thing it shows is this: if we feel like we have to ask “is this morally permissible? Will I still be a good person if I do this?” and deliberate over the answer, then the correct answer is probably and we re just trying to convince ourselves otherwise so we can feel better about doing the wrong thing anyway. Is all that too long to use as a negative case? Probably. And the affirmative is almost certainly going to be using absurd definitions that will need to be overcome first. And I didn t even propose a value because the resolution appears to be utterly devoid of higher values, with one side advocating murder and the other side apparently complacent to abuse. In the simplest terms, when somebody says “Yeah we killed him; but trust us, this guy was horrid!” trusting them is not what I m going to be doing because they re the baddies.

www.lexwerks.com/article/on-not-being-a-murderer/

3/5

1/24/12

On Not Being A Murderer

The Lexwerks

Search for:

Sea ch

Also

orth noting

Summer Camp 2.0 Date: Oct 29, 2011 4:53 PMNumber of Comments on Photo:0View Photo […] Shores of California Date: Oct 29, 2011 4:50 PMNumber of Comments on Photo:0View Photo […] Camping gets Real Date: Oct 29, 2011 4:49 PMNumber of Comments on Photo:0View Photo […] United airlines has some computers that want to take my money United airlines has some computers that want to take my money and not let me on an airplane, and some human employees that want to put me on an airplane and don't care about taking more of my money. I'm not certain how I'm supposed to feel about that, but I'm thinking that they'll either end up bankrupt from the humans trying too des […] Michael Shermer on Pattern Imagination (TED) Michael Shermer says the human tendency to believe strange things -- from alien abductions to dowsing rods -- boils down to two of the brain's most basic, hard-wired survival skills. He explains what they are, and how they get us into trouble. Particularly noteworthy is about halfway through where superstition positively correlates with a lack of person […] Why? Because, sir, I am not pursuing good ends, but rather a Why? Because, sir, I am not pursuing good ends, but rather a perpetually desirable continuity in which wherever I personally end may be good enough for me. Thus I commit to my failures and embrace my mistakes, knowing that I can make none better. I mean, really, what did you think the answer was going to be? […] Bedlam, still hard at work Date: Oct 12, 2011 5:53 AMNumber of Comments on Photo:0View Photo […] Ben Goldacre on Battling Bad Science (TED) Every day there are news reports of new health advice, but how can you know if they're right? Doctor and epidemiologist Ben Goldacre shows us, at high speed, the ways evidence can be distorted, from the blindingly obvious nutrition claims to the very subtle tricks of the pharmaceutical industry. […] Matt Gemmell on SEO for Non-dicks I periodically check my blog s referrers, and there are a huge number of sites out there containing duplicate content and links, some of them extremely convincing when viewed in isolation. It s sleazy, it s pathetic, and it damages the internet for everyone. […]
www.lexwerks.com/article/on-not-being-a-murderer/ 4/5

1/24/12

On Not Being A Murderer

The Lexwerks

Jaron Lanier on the Local-global Flip [W]henever you improve efficiency, when you save money, it's only the same thing as making money if you're already rich. If there are people who aren't rich enough to benefit from that, it just makes them poorer because they have less to do, and less ways to earn money. […] In case the PF debaters are wondering, Iconoclast by Greg Berns In case the PF debaters are wondering, Iconoclast by Greg Berns (it's a book) has an aff case in one of its later chapters. Of course, the policy debaters on your team already have cases... because the last thing we'd want is for you to actually research anything yourselves before spouting punditry and talking points. […] How clueless are software developers? Well, they give ordinary How clueless are software developers? Well, they give ordinary users interfaces featuring Wizards and Dragon-Droppings and then wonder why computer literacy is perceived as geeky. […] Aiden and Michel on What we learned from 5 million books (TED) Have you played with Google Labs' NGram Viewer? It's an addicting tool that lets you search for words and ideas in a database of 5 million books from across centuries. Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel show us how it works, and a few of the surprising things we can learn from 500 billion words. […] Joe on Ron Paul Forgetting that America is a Blue Pill Nation Here is what Ron Paul could have said that could have dispelled the effects of the blue pill: Do you really believe that you are important enough for people you ve never met from a far away land to end their own lives in an attempt to kill you? […] Richard Resnick on the Genomic Revolution In this accessible talk from TEDxBoston, Richard Resnick shows how cheap and fast genome sequencing is about to turn health care (and insurance, and politics) upside down. […] © 2012 Words written & made-up by Jason Miller, except for the stuff that wasn't. WordPress Theme "Hello Sexy" by Stinkyink It's RSS! Get you some!
With Picasa plugin by Wott

www.lexwerks.com/article/on-not-being-a-murderer/

5/5