Re: Tough Questions
Thu, 2 Sep 1999 10:47:46 -0700

Michael S. Lorrey originally wrote:

> To live in a free society, you must trust first in yourself to act
> responsibly, and if you beleive that people are more or less equal, you
> should be prepared to trust your fellow man an equal amount. Do you
> trust yourself with an atomic warhead? Would you hold a nation hostage
> to get what you want? If you trust yourself to not abuse such power you
> must trust your fellow man to not abuse such power.

In response to a critique, he replies:

> I mostly agree with this, that the more destructive the technology,
> the more room you need for individuals to be able to use them freely and
> safely, however in a properly armed society where the majority understand
> about rational self interest, such whack-jobs would be eliminated at some
> point between the womb and their date with destiny. I know of no case of
> a numb-nut like Furrow, Lee Harvey Ozwald, Sirhan Sirhan, etc. where the
> signs of a seriously disturbed individual were not readily apparent long
> before hand, but nobody did anything, or what was done was the typical
> treatment of a bleeding heart society.

So are you saying that "whack-jobs" should be killed? That's what it sounds like, when you refer to a "properly armed society" and saying that such people would be "eliminated".

There are plenty of nutty people wandering around. It is hard to tell which ones are seriously nutty and might someday hurt people, and which ones are harmless loonies. Should we kill them all, just in case?

If your neighbor arms himself with a nuclear bomb, you might say that this is evidence that he is a crazy "whack-job". Should we kill him? Is that your solution to the problem - don't make it illegal to possess excessively dangerous technologies, just kill the people who do?

Doesn't that work out to be the same as making it illegal, plus making the penalty be death? Why not consider an intermediate step, which is to make possession be illegal but not to apply the death penalty?

If your "free society" comes down to one where you get the death penalty any time you overstep somebody's ideas of normalcy, that doesn't look very attractive.