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
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)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(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.” (Read more revenge stories.)

My Take on This Story
Show results without voting  |