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Ariel Castro hanged

Discussion in 'Tilted Philosophy, Politics, and Economics' started by Tully Mars, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Very Tilted

    Location:
    Yucatan, Mexico
    Ariel Castro was found hanged in his cell, apparent suicide. Full story here -

    Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro found hanged after one month in jail | World news | theguardian.com


    Thoughts? I have mixed feelings. I usually think it's a cowards way out when folks off themselves, with the exception of the terminally ill suffering His guy, my opinion, had little right to be breathing perfectly good air others might well use. But he should have had the pleasure of experiencing the legal version of what his victims suffered. On the other hand that is more or less just wanting revenge and I don't personally consider revenge and justice to be the same thing. But he did save tax payers the cost of keeping him alive. So overall don't know but I'm certainly not sad he's dead. I do hope this helps his victim find closure and maybe allow them more peace.
     
  2. the_jazz

    the_jazz Accused old lady puncher

    I've got mixed emotions, too. Clearly - and despite his protests to the contrary - he was a monster. One less monster in the world is a good thing in general. If his victims are happy he's gone, then I am very good with this. If they're not, then I'm not.

    Maybe that doesn't make sense to anyone else, but it does to me.
     
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  3. Fremen

    Fremen Allright, who stole my mustache?

    Location:
    E. Texas
    To quote that famous ill-tempered feline, "Good.".
     
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  4. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    I don't believe in monsters. I believe doing so is merely a way for us to guard our emotional responses to certain people and their actions. It's also used as excuse to inflict cruel and unusual punishment on those who are, in fact, human beings.

    No, Ariel Castro wasn't a monster; he was a human being who did horrendous things. And dehumanizing him and others like him serve little purpose at best, but at worst it impedes our ability to understand how and why people do such things. I'm not comfortable with writing him off as a monster. Not only was he not a monster, I don't believe he was a rational actor either.

    Healthy human beings don't do these things. Too many of us think that people like Castro are society's Grendels. They're something else entirely, and I think what makes us afraid of them or disgusted by them is our inability to do much about them other than the "simple solutions" we like to sanitize.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
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  5. the_jazz

    the_jazz Accused old lady puncher

    Personally, I think that to deny that human monsters exist is a disservice to humanity. If human monsters don't exist, then the opposition - the truly good - cannot exist. I know that there are truly good people in the world. I've been fortunate enough to meet a few who put individuals and groups before themselves as much as possible. If you don't like the term "monster", that's one thing, and you're welcome to have a pointless battle over whatever the proper word to describe the truly evil, but I'll stick with my terms for until you're done and just continue to acknowledge that the only way for the spectrum of behavior to function is to have anchor points at either end. Castro was one of those anchors. Here are some candidates for the other end:

    Doctors Without Borders
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member


    Writing them off as a monster allows us to believe that there is none of them in us.

    I agree with your assertion that healthy people don't engage in these kinds of behaviors. I think it's rather sad that our natural instinct is to punish. I'm not suggesting that someone like Castro could be rehabilitated, but our current system is the simple solution, one size fits all.

    When I got up this morning and saw the news, I thought about starting a thread titled "Oh, the humanity!" Stories like this, dealing with people who act so outside the norm that we cannot comprehend their actions, pop up once in a while, after all. It's Castro this week. It'll be someone else before too long.
     
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  7. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    I see your point, but I think you're hedging. A monster implies something less than human. Also, you seem to think in a binary of good and evil, which is an old, old idea that has a rather complex, difficult, and often contradictory relationship with contemporary ethics.

    If we agree that we can use the term evil in this day and age, then I will at least concede to this: There are no evil people, only evil thoughts and actions.

    To think otherwise is to take an essentialist approach. I have a problem with that approach because I think it gets into the idea of a soul, which takes us away from a secular approach to the matter.

    Evil is basically immorality to a great degree. But what leads to or causes such immorality?

    What is a monster exactly? (Other than a creature we are morally justified to kill, torture, and/or let die.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  8. the_jazz

    the_jazz Accused old lady puncher

    I think you've completely misunderstood my point. I'm not saying that people are either/or; I am saying that there is a spectrum of good and evil upon which the entirety of humanity falls. There are outliers - Castro, the BTK killer, Mother Theresa and others - that are on the extreme ends of the spectrum. Those are the "anchors" since they define the respective edges.

    Perhaps to you the term "monster" equates to "less than human". It does not to me. Grendl is one example of a monster - a werewolf (human most of the time, vicious wolf at others) is another, as are Dr. Frankenstein's creation and The Mummy. The latter two are 100% human, altered by death. Outside of mythology (modern or otherwise) it seems obvious to me that a monster is someone with complete disregard for the rest of humanity to the point where the intentional infliction of great pain and suffering upon others becomes routine and normal.

    I do not accept that there are no evil people; I know too much about the tragedies of the 20th Century. When one is consumed by evil thoughts and actions to the exclusion of all others, then I see no difference in actions/thoughts and the person when it comes to applying the label. Castro kept these women for 10+ years - kept them alive, kept them functional - so that he could use them as he pleased. That is 10 years of sustained evil thoughts and deeds. Arguing that he was or wasn't an evil person at that stage in life is purely semantic since, by all accounts and reckoning, he was by necessity consumed by those evil thoughts and deeds in order to continue those actions.

    Personally, I think that to define Castro or those who engineered the Holocaust or the members of Japanese Unit 731 as simply "immoral" is to do a great disservice to their victims by diminishing their suffering.
     
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  9. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    A spectrum between "good" and "evil" is simply a set of values that pertain to moral decisions that we've evaluated one way or another. My point is that there is nothing inherent in people that make them "good" or "evil." This is why we need to move beyond "he is evil." We need to qualify that.

    A monster is something imaginary. A human is something real. I like to keep my mythologies in the realm of the fantastical, but regarding human beings, I like to stay grounded in reality. What purpose does it serve to place Ariel Castro, human being, among the ranks of fictional villains? Do you believe Castro underwent a supernatural transformation?

    Semantics are important. It helps us understand meaning. That's important, wouldn't you say?

    Would you say Castro was clinically evil? Supernaturally evil? Logically evil?

    "Simply immoral"? Are you a Christian? If so, I don't know enough about the Christian faith to be able to take the discussion into a direction we can both understand. I think that's maybe where we don't understand one another. You may believe that Ariel Castro is burning in hell after giving into temptation or however that works. I, on the other hand, am more concerned about what happened in a sense that we can actually use.

    In the meantime, please don't think that I myself am a monster—diminishing the suffering of his victims—for thinking that Castro was something other than "consumed by evil."
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
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  10. Borla

    Borla Moderator Staff Member

    I think too much is being made of the word choice "monster".

    According to Merriam-Webster:


    In my simple brain, "1b" and "4" (regarding wickedness and cruelty) seem to fit him as an evil human who did things that almost all of society will agree were incredibly heinous.
    I'm not a 'grab the pitchforks and torture him' guy when horrible and cruel crimes are committed. I believe the due process we have is about the best system (albeit very imperfect) in existence right now. I'd have been fine letting him rot in jail the rest of his life. I'd have been fine if he got the death penalty too. I don't have strong feelings either way there. But I figure this route saves a bunch of Ohio tax-payers some money, frees up immense court time from appeals and motions, and if the victims are as ok with this ending as they would be decades in prison, then so am I.
     
  11. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Very Tilted

    Location:
    Yucatan, Mexico
    Maybe some people prefer "their actions were monstrous" to "that person is a monster?" Don't know. Myself I worked with enough people who committed monstrous acts often with little or no emotion other then apparent joy I could only conclude they were in fact monsters. In short, I know exactly why some are terrified of things that go "bump" in the night.
     
  12. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    My only concern, despite what people mean, is the process of writing a personal good-versus-evil story about people that deem them as something less than human. It's not helpful beyond the gratification of seeing something frightening and inhuman destroyed as some kind of cathartic ending to a morality play.

    Again, I like to stay rooted in reality. I'd like to know what became of Castro, not what we make of him.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  13. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Very Tilted

    Location:
    Yucatan, Mexico
    Who said they are less then human? That humans can be monsters seems to be pretty clear simply by the dictionary definition. I'd think a guy in your line of work would agree with dictionary definitions of words.
     
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  14. the_jazz

    the_jazz Accused old lady puncher

    I don't disagree that there is anything inherent in a person to make them good or evil. I agree that it is thoughts and deeds. But when someone commits evil deeds (with thoughts being necessarily implied) on a routine basis, then I see no need for qualification.

    You need to relook at the definition of "monster".

    Monster | Define Monster at Dictionary.com

    Monsters, in the common usage of the term, are not purely mythological. You're simply hung up on the first definition of the word and not looking any further. I'm not referring to Castro in the same sense as Dracula or any other fictional creature; he clearly didn't have supernatural powers. But he clearly deviated grotesquely from the norm of human behavior with his behavior AND excited horror by wickedness and cruelty.

    Or are you going to tell me that I mean that he was a large animal next?
    I agree that semantics can be important, but they often detract from more important discussions. If we're going to accept that some people are evil, then he fits the definition.

    Evil | Define Evil at Dictionary.com

    By my tally, Castro fits #1 and 4. You may be using a different definition.
    I don't define myself as a Christian. If you're going to force me to commit, I'm a disinterested agnostic. I don't know and don't care about God and such. I don't subscribe to idea of an afterlife, punishing or not.

    What I am saying, though, is that his actions define him as evil and a monster. I am not defining you as a monster either, but if imprisoning 3 women for 10 years for your own sadistic sexual pleasure doesn't fit the definition of "consumed by evil" I really don't think that there's much more to say. I can't imagine that you honestly believe that 10 years of sustained action does not fit that term; if you do believe that, then I think you're simply fooling yourself about the darker side of human nature.
     
  15. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    The problem with dictionary definitions is that they're best used as starting points, not conclusions.

    In a related definition, the Oxford goes with "an inhumanly cruel or wicked person."

    But we have to go beyond that. We're not finished.

    The Merriam-Webster's definition through monstrous continues with: "a person of unnatural or extreme ugliness, deformity, wickedness, or cruelty." I think this and the Oxford definition above is what most people think of when choosing the word to apply to people like Castro.

    The whole purpose, it seems to me, of calling the worst criminals "monster" or "animal" is to revoke their status as humans. People want to distance themselves from them as much as possible, and I think it's done with existential anxiety. Otherwise, we'd see more words like deviant, cruel, wicked, etc., wouldn't we? Despite the nuances in meaning, the word monster still refers back to its historical connotation.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  16. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Very Tilted

    Location:
    Yucatan, Mexico
    Well we would not want to forget the historical connotation. I'm sure when I meet a stranger in a bar and tell him he seems gay he'll know I mean he's in a good mode and having a good time and not that he prefers sex with other men.
     
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  17. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    So...a bullet in the head?

    See my above notes on this.

    This doesn't get us far enough. Again, dictionary definitions are starting points, not conclusions. You still have some qualifying to do. Or are we going with a bullet in the head?

    No, I just don't know what you mean by "consumed by evil." Is this something we can quantify? Is this something he was victimized by? Is there something we can do to prevent it? Is his transformation into an evil monster worthy of nothing but death? Is there a clinical application for this? Or are we going to use religious concepts? I don't believe evil is intrinsic or some external force.

    I think you're mythologizing Castro, with all this talk about evil, monsters, being consumed, the darker side of human nature, etc. I think you do it because it helps you deal with the emotions that arise from such a horrific situation. Otherwise, why call him a monster? Why that word? My dog can be a little monster sometimes, but I don't think he'll do the same things Castro did....

    I guess I'm just too jaded to buy into the narratives that we construct about things we have little or no power to influence.

    This is what I think does a disservice to his victims. It gives reasons, an explanation.

    "Oh, he did that because he was an evil monster."

    "Oh, okay. Good thing it stopped, right?"
    --- merged: Sep 4, 2013 3:13 PM ---
    Be sure to apply accordingly, sir. :p
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2013
  18. mixedmedia

    mixedmedia ...

    Location:
    Florida
    There is a very good documentary on Netflix about physicians who work in the field for Doctors without Borders and, largely, that choice it is not about self-sacrifice or altruism, it is about self and despair and disillusionment and exorcising one's demons. I think the same can be said for many people we think of as outrageous heroes. Even Mother Teresa has her detractors. Many historians acknowledge that Hitler may have been a different man had he experienced a different set of circumstances in early adulthood. What this means to me is that neither good nor evil are simple personality characteristics.
     
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  19. the_jazz

    the_jazz Accused old lady puncher

    Baraka_Guru, I think that we're too far apart to bother continuing. If you're unwilling to see any validity to my points, we're done.

    And mixedmedia, I picked Doctors Without Borders randomly. I could have used the Peace Corps or any number of other legitimate charitable organizations that do good work in the worst parts of the world.
     
  20. mixedmedia

    mixedmedia ...

    Location:
    Florida
    My point is that sometimes we simplify good as well as evil.