Vigilantism: Tempting but no - Right?

Spurred from the thread about which super-power one could posess - I picked invisibility - I got to thinking about vigilantism.

I said something to the tune of: I’d be the most ruthless vigilante the world has known. Beating men who beat their wives/children. Punnishing bosses who severely abuse their power, and killing the Hitler types in the world today.

I am not a violent man, but the thought of vigilantism, to me is very intreguing. I know it is against the law, but I find my private writings have swayed far into the deepest reaches of the act. I published an article not too far back in a New England writers journal. The response was quite amazing, more people than I thought were very interested. Granted I know this theme is the basis of many a Mervel Comic, but seriously, has no one thought of it?

Would no one want to be a secret vigilante?

If not, why not? If so, why?

I would be a vigilante in an instant of the accidental death & dismemberment insurance premium were lower.

Well, I had been toying with the idea of a thread on “which anthropomorphic personification/supernatural being would you be?” My personal choice would be the Angel of Death, for nearly the same reasons you layed out. Countries would lose their entire political/military leadership if that were to come about, so no, I don’t think you are weird in this respect.

We have a dear friend who has been very sick the last month or so. He almost died, it’s been rough. Anyway, this asshole started posting a bunch of crap on our local music forum about the guy. He was saying terrible things, like he wished the guy was dead, etc. You’ve got to understand we’re talking about a very popular and talented musician who is loved and respected locally.

Many of the people who saw the posts are basically lining up to kick this guy’s ass. Even the most non-violent of the group are ready to inflict some chaos. So, yes, I would support vigilantiism. I can understand why someone would want to avenge the abuse of others.

With rights come responsibilities.

If you live in a country where you have the right to a fair trial in the event that you are accused of a crime, you should be grateful for it. Vigilantism means infringing on other people’s rights to the same.

That doesn’t mean you should ignore bad deeds being done-- indeed, it’s often illegal to walk on by when you see a crime being committed. If you see a guy knife someone and run, it’s within your rights to knock the guy down and sit on him until the cops get there. But it’s not alright for you to beat the living daylights out of him and leave him for dead. Even the police are only supposed to use ‘reasonable force’ in subduing a criminal.

In short, in certain countries we have the right to not be tortured or harmed beyond what might be needed to stop us from committing a crime or getting away after the fact. We have a criminal justice system to avoid having lynch mobs and witch-hunt style justice being dealt out by the people, against people who may or may not have been guilty (what’s to stop ten people who hate someone from saying ‘We saw him committing a crime’ and then stringing him up from a tree or beating him with bats?).

Of course everyone fantasizes about being a vigilante-- that’s probably why fictional genres such as westerns are so popular. People like to imagine a time when you couldn’t rely on laws or law enforcement-- if you were hurt by someone, it might be necessary to hunt them down and punish them yourself, and probably nobody would notice but your own town would call you a hero. When you’re enjoying a fantasy like that you aren’t ruining it for yourself with thoughts like ‘In the real world today, you could never do that, so stop dreaming!’. You’re just getting a cathartic kick out of it.

While I think there are a good many people who could use some vigilante justice, I wouldn’t want to live in a world where I was that vigilante. What happens when you’ve finished with Bin Laden, Hussein and Chiraq [sub](cheap shot for dark humor’s sake alone; don’t read anything into it, please)[/sub]. You’ve taken care of rapists and miscreant pedophiles. But you don’t like SUVs, or at least the way I’m driving my SUV (the one I don’t own). Or the person talking on the phone in the theatre is annoying you.

As Indefatigable noted, it is a great fantasy. I grew up on comic books, and often dream(ed) of being the hero bringing justice to the world. It’s only when I got older I realized it was my personal justice, where I was judge, jury and executioner, and I realized I wouldn’t want to wrestle that moral villian.

Ok, let’s get something straight here. There is a big [sup]slash-that[/sup] huge difference between wanting to kick the living crap out of a man who beats his wife or children, and wanting to beat up someone who owns an SUV of the brand you hate. I am not talking about people who are innocents here. I am speaking of people who truly, in every sense of the word Deserve it.

And when I was a lad I dreamt of being a vigilante. But I find myself deaming of it more and more now - as an adult - with the current world situation…

And let’s not forget, when the marshall was a two day ride away, sometimes the local townsfolk had to take matters in their own hands, most of the times for good, unfortunately there were times when it was done with less than honorable intentions. IMHO, this is an example of the deep-rooted beliefs that many Americans have about personal responsibility. You don’t wait for the law to right a wrong, y’all roll up your sleeves and take care of the problem yourselves.

unless you make it yourself

I confess, I have often thought about launching a denial of service attack on the people who constantly send me spam. But I have decided that it is wrong and have not done so.

Well, as long as you are targeting criminals you catch in the act, and don’t kill them unless neccessary, just disable them, and leave them nice and tied up for the police, I don’t see anything wrong with vigilantism. Just be very careful not to harm innocents.

Unless you can assure both yourself and us that you are 100% correct in your assessment of guilt, you’re not just no better, but probably much more of a sociopath than those you choose to pursue.

Yes, it is frustrating when a doo-doo escapes the maw, but without the checks and balances I have to trust you to be a benevolent monarch.

Ain’t ready for that.

Ringo-Well, if we’re talking about superpowered vigilantism here, there are “ways” to gain enough information to determine an individual’s guilt…

At this point, I have small faith in the “ways.”

I think the problem in this thread is that we’ve got the fantasy people bumping up against the realism people.

I’ll leave y’all to fantasize.

Kick that ass!!!

If you’re sure you can trace it back to the source and not some poor schmuck who accidentally forewarded it, my vote would be to go ahead and do it.

I remember when a neighbour of mine got tired of someone else’s dog crapping on his lawn. So, the next time it happened, he collected up the dog mess, put it in a package, and put it through the letter box of the guy who owned the dog. Or rather, as it turned out, the guy he thought owned the dog.

See, it’s funny, because it involved a box of dog poo. If it had involved a baseball bat or a shotgun, I don’t think anyone would be laughing.

If it’s about fantasy vs. realism, then yes. I fantasize about being a vigilante, or at least being able to butt in and set things right when I see someone doing wrong. (I’ve never been a fan of superheroes or westerns, but my current favourite TV show is Doctor Who. Anyone who’s seen it probably knows what I’m talking about.)

Realistically speaking, it just doesn’t work in as many places as we’d like. It’s a fantasy because I’m glad I don’t live in a society where vigilantism is justified or necessary. (I think in Canada and in the US, at least, our justice system is better than that, even if we can occasionally point out cases where it fails.)

A valid point Sock. Actually, I’m not a hacker, but have the skills to become one if I so desired. I don’t have enough venom in me to do so.