Criminal Society

by Nestor Ravilas

In the recent general assembly of still amorphous group of concerned Evangelicals called, Christians for Life and Dignity, the question was broached up in a supposedly festive night as to why Evangelicals are seemingly acquiescing, if not applauding, with the killing of those suspected addicts. This is actually an expression of disgust and bafflement than a question. Considering that the “image of God” doctrine of Evangelicals is a more robust basis of human rights and dignity than of the constitutional elements of the secular liberalism, you will really wonder why suddenly Evangelicals cast a blind eye and a deaf ear to the cry of the families of those executed and therefore deprived of the rights to prove their guilt or innocence in a court of law.

Crime prevention is the prevailing narrative swarming the public sphere that justifies this social cleansing. Crimes and drug addiction are now inextricably fused. Although preposterous since most of our recorded heinous felonies are committed by those addicted to power and money, they are, nonetheless, accepted by the public, the Evangelical Christians in particular. To terminate those hooked into drugs is to save the public from harm. Thus, all the killings become acceptable, and on its way to form a culture.
Preventing crimes is the obsession of most social managers. It bespeaks of a well-ordered society. The movie, Minority Report, evinces this political determination to curtail crimes by apprehending them before they are consummated. A machine that could predict the next occurrence of a crime would give the police force a chance to stop it before it happens. I wish for a time to come that such kind of machine would start cleaning our society with cutthroats. A rumor once circulated within scientific community that a criminal genes could be identified and thus could immediately neutralize babies carrying those genes to spare our society of crimes. The same thing I wish that we could have in the future a verifiable and dependable test to identify the existence of criminal genes. On their absence, however, we remain steeped into the notion that criminality is an acquired behavior. No one was born criminal!
How some people turned felons then? This is a hard question and no answer is not up for further discussion. In the current occurrences of mass killing in the US and other part of the world, the absence of apparent motivation for such vile acts is what confuses most of police investigators and crime psychologists. Why such morbid carnages were carried out without any clear reasons? Talal Asad in his book, Suicide Bombers, analyzes the psychology behind killing one’s enemy by killing himself too. By and large, one would bring damage to his enemy but making sure to maintain a safe distance. Killing himself with one’s enemy is unspeakable; and no religious fanatics would do that, I tell you.
In the analysis of those who kill without apparent reason and the suicide bombers, it appears that most of them had gone into a miserable and painful process of life. With all the mockery done by the philosophy of consciousness over and against emotion and feelings, Judith Butler insists that we remains emotional beings through and through. That is the reason why some thinkers, including Martha Nussbaum is egging us to develop and nurture our emotions rather that suppressing it under the alleged power of reason. Emotion remains a deciding factor of our identity, as it was found out that rage and hatred were the motivating factor behind those nonsense mass killings we currently witnessed. Rage and hatred developed from childhood onward, through multiple experiences of violence, injustices, abuses, discrimination, hunger, scarcity, and many political and social conditions that prey on people. Rage that will look for ways to pour it out, either in criminal acts as gesture of revenge, or in a cowardly applauding those killings as silent expression of our own rage and hatred. Both acts are symptom that ours is a criminal society.
To kill an addict therefore is not to prevent crime from occurring, it amounts rather in succumbing to your own rage and potentiality as criminal. If criminality, or say addiction, is not predisposed by humanity’s genes but by how the society handles and treats humans, it is the society obligation to amend its shortcomings by helping them to recover and to start a new life. This is the way to neutralize the power of rage and hatred, to curb every potentials of violence, those of having raging desire to commit crimes, and those who applaud and agree in killing them.
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