Proponents of punishment by the state or authority believe that individuals who break laws or rules should be punished by being subjected to treatment that fits the level/severity of the crime. That is to say that rules established by phantom authority are just, and they wholeheartedly agree with state-imposed rules. Many invoke the cliché an eye for an eye as a measure or gauge to decide a punishment that is suitable. This would translate to something like whatever crime an individual subjects another to should be inflicted upon that individual. Examples would be: If a man kills, he should be killed. If a man kidnaps and imprisons another, he should be captured and imprisoned. If a woman tortures another, it is only right she be tortured.
This is used to justify harsh treatment of human beings. It is to say directly that harsh treatment in itself is not a bad thing or should not be completely eradicated. If it is taken that violating a state’s laws or rules is the foundation or basis for asserting an act to be wrong, then whatever that act may be should be the very act that individual is subjected to, holding true to an eye for an eye.
There lies many contradiction and inconsistencies in the above frame of thinking–and variation of–if indeed an individual feels that an eye for an eye should be the measuring stick and that a state-imposed punishment is just and suitable for retribution for the suspected crime. First, one concerned with humane treatment of people would be against any and every treatment that subjects a human to inhumane treatment such as torture or killing intentionally by other humans.
An eye for an eye suggests that if a man rapes, he should be raped. that is directly advocating raping humans. What is the difference between supporting the rape of one human over the rape of another human? Is it the history of one man’s actions that justify his own rape?
Because many support the state’s imposed punishment, they feel a long time behind bars is sufficient in punishing so-called harsh criminals. But, this is clearly not an enactment of an eye for an eye. There are some who even feel neutering of such a man should be punishment, but this creates another conflict. If the rapist is raped or neutered, would this mean his debt was paid in full, or would there be calls for further action such as expulsion from society? If it is said the “debt to society” or debt to victim was fulfilled, it is saying that inhumane treatment–chopping off genetalia or raping someone–is a way to make an act of inhumanity a remedy for inhumane acts.
If, in fact, one supposed jail time was sufficient, any additional treatment would be excessive. What would be the sentiment if a convicted rapist or murderer was raped or killed during his time in prison? I suppose many will feel this to be justice, at least poetically. If this is justice, should the perpetrator of this act of justice be punished accordingly? If one believes it is just for the rapist and murderer to be raped or murdered, they must believe any individual is allowed to commit an offense as long as it can be viewed as a manifestation of an eye for an eye, even if the individual knew nothing of the history of his victim. Supporting one’s self-servicing need or want to rape or murder would be direct support for inhumane acts–if the advocate categorizes rape and murder as inhumane.
True proponents of an eye for an eye would be opposed to prison time in most cases, unless the offender is charged with a crime such as kidnapping. They should also be enemies against most crimes where an eye for an eye enactment deems the crime itself not a crime at all. For instance, if a man is convicted of selling drugs to another, an eye for an eye says that drugs should be sold to him. This would be insufficient in stopping the distribution of drugs, but perpetuates it. It would be a reward, not a punishment.
This raises other questions. What is truly criminal about selling or even possessing certain substances? What makes certain substances illegal to begin with? (I would love to answer that in detail, but not now.) The crime in selling a substance is that the state had deemed it not legal. So, the man who is to be punished by the state is actually charged with disobeying the phantom authority of the state. What would be the proper course of action under an eye for an eye for disobeying authority or a rule? The offender would have to have one of his own self-governing rules disobeyed.
Then, how do you comb through his asserted authority to rule himself and choose a specific rule to disobey that would honor an eye for an eye? Should it be chosen randomly? If the rule decided upon, or chosen randomly, is the individual’s rule that says “no crime should go unpunished,” an eye for an eye would thereby be null and void. In disobeying the individual’s rule to not allow crimes to go unpunished, he must not be punished.
The truth is that every act that is said to be a crime by the state is a crime simply because the state says it is a crime. There is no underlying system of morality and conduct that the state can reference to establish laws and rules to impose on citizens by the state, most of the time without their direct consent. Thus, an eye for an eye is not justifiable in or for the actions of an outside entity such as the state. It cannot be imposed on another person, because it is simply saying that one person disobeyed another’s personal rules. An eye for an eye is a personal call for vengeance.
If an eye for an eye was actually the system to go by for retribution for wrongdoing, what does one do when she finds that the wrongdoing was perpetrated by the state onto the individual? The wrongdoing would be being subjected to the laws of the state and punishment imposed by the state. Under an eye for an eye, each individual of that state would be required to disobey the rule of that state, since forcing one to submit to its rule is a crime. This would completely nullify the state, branding it as void and obsolete. Each individual would then be subject to no rules or laws except those imposed on them by themselves. This is the moment that is called freedom.