Face It: We Need Revenge

Justice is just a fancy word for vengeance, argues Thane Rosenbaum

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 28, 2011 1:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Norway doesn’t have the death penalty, and that means it’s “legally and morally” unprepared to deal with the likes of Anders Breivik, the man allegedly responsible for the Oslo massacre, argues legal scholar Thane Rosenbaum in the New York Times. Americans, meanwhile, are outraged over the acquittal of Casey Anthony. “In both cases the attraction of a nonlegal alternative is a powerful one,” Rosenbaum writes. “Are these vengeful feelings morally appropriate? The answer is yes.”

Most people aren’t comfortable with the term vengeance, “but how different is revenge from justice, really?” Rosenbaum asks. Vengeance, he argues, is “as natural to the human species as love and sex.” From Hamlet to Gladiator, our art and culture have always celebrated avengers. Legal systems have “a moral duty to satisfy the needs of victims to feel avenged.”

Bomb and terror suspect Anders Behring Breivik (red top) leaves the courthouse in a police car  in Oslo on July 25, 2011, after the hearing to decide his further detention.
Bomb and terror suspect Anders Behring Breivik (red top) leaves the courthouse in a police car in Oslo on July 25, 2011, after the hearing to decide his further detention.   (Getty Images)
Anders Breivik and Casey Anthony are seen in this combination of Getty photos.
Anders Breivik and Casey Anthony are seen in this combination of Getty photos.   (Getty Images)
« Prev« Prev | Next »Next » Slideshow
My TakeCLICK BELOW TO VOTE
24%
2%
36%
3%
25%
10%
To report an error on this story, notify our editors.

NEWS FROM OUR PARTNERS
Other Sites We Like:   The Street   |   HitFix   |   PopSugar Tech   |   RealClear   |   24/7 Wall St.   |   CollegeHumor   |   Barstool Sports   |   OK!