Capital Punishment, Vigilantiism, and Morals

So, this gentlemen by the name of Hugo Selenski escaped from a maximum security prison in Wilkes Barre, PA, over the weekend. He is suspected of killing a dozen people or so that have a common trait among them, which puts him in the category of “serial killer”, according to the authorities.

The method of escape was comically low tech. It involved bedsheets tied together, climbing down eight floors on the outside of a building, and a mattress thrown over a barb wire fence. But that’s not my point here.

When I first learned of the escape, and that he had killed around a dozen people in cold blood, I was saying, “Get the bastard!” to the TV screen.

Then it was announced what type of serial killer he is. He is a serial killer that kills illegal drug dealers. He would rob them and then kill them. Hmmmmm. Then I wasn’t so sure anymore. The balls alone on this gentlemen gives me pause.

Two of his victims, who were dug up on his property, was a pharmacist and his wife who were committing prescription fraud and selling illegal drugs out the back door.

Those are all of the facts that I know about the case at this point. I don’t know if he was a drug dealer himself who was trying to knock off the competition. I don’t know if he only targeted white suburban pharmacists. I read every article I can find on this case. As of this moment, 48 hours after he escaped, he has still not been caught.

So here’s my point, finally. Which type of crime, do you feel, would you let a murderer of individuals who committed that crime go free? At what point does vigilantiism justify itself?

Vigilantes that I posed to myself:

A serial killer that kills child molesters.
A serial killer that kills inner city crack and heroine dealers.
A serial killer that kills other serial killers.

Slight correction that may alter my opinion of this case. Apparently, there were three of them who would kidnap, rob, and kill known drug dealers, in order to make money for themselves.

One of the three confessed and showed the graves of three victims to police, adding that there were atleast a dozen more bodies that he buried.

These are two separate issues in my opinion. If you search the archive for Vigilantism you’ll find two that were started by me. In my opinion the people who were killing known drug dealers, especially pharmacists and their wives, are going a bit far.

However, someone who goes around killing known repeat offenders of the child rape variety is a different story and then I think the law becomes a little hazy in my eyes.

If people are being killed without due process, how do we know they are guilty of the crimes they are accused of, let alone whether death is an appropriate penalty? A psychopath with a righteousness disorder is perhaps not the best person to believe the word of.

If I advocate vigilantism, one day they might come for me.

Never. Never ever ever. The only way the Rule of Law works is if it is consistently and impartially applied to everyone.

We do not allow individuals to commit premediated murder on the grounds the person killed was a really bad person. That just leads to the slippery slope of attempting to decide who’s really bad enough to die.

And that is a determination we as a society have explicitly and rightfully left to the justice system and the procedural safeguards against the death of innocents that it ideally provides. Ending the life of someone else, for any reason, is IMO a Very Big Deal – such a big deal that a not inconsiderable segment of society thinks it should not be done by society, ever, or by the individual in the absence of imminent danger to self or others. The determination of who lives and who dies should not be left to the individual.

Are you serious? Can you picture a democratic society in which vigilanteism is EVER okay? Only in the utter absence of government would the “benefits” of vigilanteism outweigh its destructiveness.

The closest thing to vigilanteism that is EVER okay is the “citizen’s arrest.”

The “citizen’s arrest, trial, and execution” is absolutely never OK.

Yep, I have to say that Jodi said it right.

The only thing that keeps me from LYNCHING (because that is what you are doing when you take the law in your own hands in this manner) vigalantes is the knowledge that the law will at least try to get them. In addition, most of the punishments dealt out by the law can be at least reversed if they are wrong. This just isn’t true in vigalante justice.

This is horrifying to me.

Trivia: who might have said each of these quotes below?
[ol][li]However, someone who goes around killing [employees of oppressive government agencies like the FBI] is a different story and then I think the law becomes a little hazy in my eyes.[/li][li]However, someone who goes around killing [infidels] is a different story and then I think the law becomes a little hazy in my eyes.[/li]However, someone who goes around killing [abortion clinic workers] is a different story and then I think the law becomes a little hazy in my eyes.[/ol]

I’ll second jodi’s reply.

Vigilantism is wrong, to think that it is ‘ok’ in certain instances is to throw the rule of law out the window.

What if someone accused YOU of being a child molestor, and some vigilante decides to off you before you get your day in court where it would have been proven that in fact you are not?

I’m not saying that vigilantiism will ever catch on. Vigilantiism (I hope I’m spelling it correctly, BTW) has always existed, probably ever since the concept of “revenge”. If someone really really despises child molesters, and they hone in on and kill a probable child molester, but not proven child molester, that person is still guilty of murder.

Vigilantiism will never catch on because the vigilante still has to be judged by a jury of their peers. They are still putting their life and freedom on the line.

However, a jury is made up of human beings, who have children and relatives that they love. So, the point I was making is that in a case such as this, some of the jury members might relate with the actions of the vigilante, and might actually find him not guilty - or atleast justified in his actions.

I wanted to find out, if you were on a jury, what kind of vigilante case would you be more sympathetic towards than others.

Me? Crack dealers, Hitmen, and child molesters.

…but I see what most of you are saying. That under no circumstances would you feel sympathetic towards a vigilante.

To feel “sympathy” toward a vigilante is the slipperiest of slopes, and is outside a jury’s duty. The juror’s felt “sympathy” for Dan White because all he killed was a homosexual.

I could sympathize with a person and still send her or him to prison if that is what the law required.

But I could never sentence someone to death. Never.

Here are a couple other facts from the various AP articles:

To answer the OP, I agree with most of the responses that vigilantiism is never justified.

When the society you live in collapsed in total anarchy and you can’t count anymore on authories to enforce any law…

I think vigilantism should never ever be allowed… it should be stopped fast too. A religious fanatic might start shooting atheists because they are “criminals” pretty soon if vigilantism takes over.

We had a recent case that clearly points why vigilantism is dangerous. A small baby died. Doctor says it "appeared" there was sexual molestation and that the death by asfixiation could have happened due to rape. The father of the kid (who doesnt live with the mother) who had rushed the baby to hospital was put in jail immediately. After reading about it a friend of mine said she thought this guy should be sentenced to death... or beaten to death. She didn't even consider that he might be innocent. Most people reacted in the same mob mentality. I was shocked too...

 Well... two days later the autopsy revealed the baby had somehow gagged... not been raped. He choked on the bottle or something. The father was released but will be investigated for negligence. Now imagine if a vigilante had managed to do "justice" beforehand ? Or if a mob had broken into the police station to excecute justice ? The justice system can be a bithc and slow... but vigilantes are loose cannons.

Another aspect of vigilantism is that very soon people will fabricate crimes about their enmities in order to get them shot by vigilantes. Not a nice scenario…

Tell that to Emmett Till.

Vigilantism should never be accepted or forgiven in any sort of organized fashion. The moment society officially and collectively decides it cannot depend on its institutions for justice, the social compact has begun to disintegrate.