Are we humans born evil? Are we born with an incessant need to commit crime? Are we all born criminals and reformed by society? If we are born as criminals then committing crime is but a natural outcome then why do we punish those few who do end up committing crime? Even if punishment is justified who has the right to punish? Can a group of born criminals be entrusted to punish somebody? Can somebody who commits an act following his natural self, be punished? A bunch of born criminals entrusted with power through some suspicious means punishing an individual for committing an act following his natural self, be called justice?
One might question the reason behind my assumption of ‘humans born evil’. I can only point towards our Society’s belief in legislated laws to maintain law and order in our day to day life indicates all humans are born criminals waiting for the first chance to commit crime unless reined in by laws. Hence often there is demand for stricter laws and stronger implementation of the same.
The very idea of punishment is an interesting phenomenon as well. Leading thinkers of all ages have questioned justification of punishment and also about who has the moral right to punish? Also how to decide what is an appropriate punishment? When a person is wronged by another person, any attempts by the wronged person to inflict a similar pain on the perpetrator is considered undesirable, unjust and a symbol of uncivilized society. However, after a fair debate and arbitration, if a similar pain is inflicted by the judicial system, it is considered legal, just and mark of a civilized society. Even any attempt by a wrong doer to punish himself is also considered illegal. Thus Justice is a complicated affair without even having to discuss about Capital punishment!!
A whole system cracking down on an individual at times appears to be crueler and unjustified an act than an individual seeking revenge against another. A wronged individual can seek revenge albeit, after a judicial system approves of it and also takes the responsibility of carrying out the agreed revenge. The popular 20th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzschesupported this form of punishment and meting justice, he said ‘Justice and the institution of law essentially take revenge out of the hands of the offended party. If I am robbed, it is justice, and not myself, that has been harmed, and so justice must claim revenge. Thus, Nietzsche suggests, the concept of justice can only exist in a society that has established laws that can be transgressed: there is no such thing as “justice in itself.”
In the wake of the news of the suicide committed by one of the main accused in the, now popular, Delhi rape case Dec 2012, I would like to inspire people to reflect upon our human behavior, society and the concept of justice.