The infamous puppy video has been making the rounds of the internet and is now hitting the major news networks, such as CNN.
I commented earlier on this situation, but see myself as obligated to say more about the situation. My main focus will be on a certain type of reaction to the video.
When I first saw the video, I considered that it might be a fake. After all, a key part of conflict is propaganda and an essential part of propaganda is making the opponent look evil. Naturally enough, the presence of the black flag in the video gave some credence to the claim that the video was a fake.
In addition to my rational reaction, I also had an emotional reaction. I am, as they say, a critter person. I like animals and cannot abide cruelty to living things. When I saw what looked like the senseless killing of a puppy, I was outraged. My rational side also regarded this as a fundamentally wrong action-one that should be punished.
Based on what I have read in various blogs, other people had similar feelings. However, some people let their feelings completely override their reason and moral sense. For example, one comment on my own previous blog reads: “I were in the position where I saw someone do one of these unthinkable things, I would have a very hard time not murdering him/her. My first reaction would be to kill the person out of anger, and probably not regret it.” Other people have been even more extreme. Some have even gone so far as to advocating harming the family of the (alleged) puppy killer.
While a desire for justice is a good thing, these sort of responses are not based in a desire for justice. They are based on an emotional lust for revenge-a desire to inflict suffering on another. While this reaction is understandable, it moves a person closer to what he professes to hate: someone who hurts others because that is what he feels like doing. The main difference is, of course, that the person who does something like kill a puppy is not moved by a cruel action. The people who threaten the (alleged)puppy killer and call for his death are motivated by their response to the cruel act. But, they are motivated to act cruelly and savagely. Justice requires an objective assessment and the dispensation of the proper punishment. What these people want is not justice, but more pain. The call for justice should be satisfied. The call for pain should not.
Interestingly, this is the moral mistake that many terrorists make. They feel that they have been wronged and they set out to “right” things by inflicting more wrong. But, as wiser people than I have argued, the world is not made better by adding more death, pain, and cruelty. The world is made better by addressing wrongs with justice and reducing the death, pain and cruelty.
It might be argued that some people have no recourse to justice. Hence, they must bomb children, behead journalists and crash planes into towers. While I will admit that the world does need a better system for bringing about justice, someone who commits such actions is not driven by what is morally right nor by a sense of true justice. I know this because a good person in search of justice would not do such things.