Post-apocalyptic Politics: The Death Penalty

I’m going to continue Char and ann’s death talk trend this week. Especially since just yesterday I had to extinguish a life for crossing me wrong.

Now, mind you, this life was attached to a spider who’d mistakenly made its way into my bag and probably couldn’t have gotten out if it wanted to. But it was huge and aggressive looking and in MY bag. Spiders can do as they please in the great outdoors but in my bag, in an office building, in the city? You’re gonna die.

This minor infraction1, a wrong turn in the wrong neighborhood, resulted in Devil Spider’s vilification and eventual death. Would I have done the same if I had the means and found someone trespassing in my safe spot whilst trying to survive?2

In survival situations we know there will be non-mutated predators simply out to take advantage of those weaker than they are, and we know there will be times when we’ll have to weigh the value of someone else’s life against “the greater good.” But when it comes to consequences for crimes and trespasses against us, how do we determine severity.

If someone is wounded by an aggressor, do we follow Humarabi’s code3 and wound them back equally? Do we take into account if one or the other might later develop an infection from the injury?

Do we follow the laws that previously existed and, if we live in a state without the death penalty, imprison someone guilty of murder for the rest of their life while we feed and shelter them? That’s just straight counterintuitive. We’re concerned with keeping up people we actually give a shit about and rationing out food and defenses to protect and preserve them, then we’d consider doing the same for a sworn enemy? I don’t see that happening. But how do you prevent this person from walking away with the life of someone in your party, maybe some of your goods, and possibly your pride, only to return for seconds.

Unfortunately, you might be forced to respond dramatically to everything until you’re revered as unfuckwithable. The old standard of “Leave one alive to tell the tale.” Or, you could spend a long time running and hiding in a cowardly and nomadic existence. If you let an offender go, no matter how small the offence, you’re not only setting a dangerous doormat precedence but also leaving them to go collect some friends who would also like some of your free stuff.

The fact is, at a certain point people know they’re taking their lives in their hands by crossings certain people’s boundaries.

People know that if you rape a man’s daughter he’ll want to kill you but can’t because of laws. In a lawless society, you’re gonna die. You’d kill for some food? You shouldn’t be surprised when you’re killed for robbing someone’s family of their food4.

In survival times death will be more than a penalty. It will be a rampant and sweeping plague. People will be killing because they can and are sucked into the power and chaos of the situation, killing to get what they want, killing in response to everything from differing opinions to legitimate vengeance.

When you start banding together with people or baring yourself in a safe spot, consider what you will and won’t do to ensure you continued survival. Consider that you only have a bat and might have to beat someone to death to save yourself. Consider that your party members might disagree with you and you’ll need to either lie to them, agree to disagree, or find your own way.

Currently, we can debate judicial executions because there is an alternative and that alternative allows us the luxury of extended investigation into the guilt of an individual.

We have the luxury of not jumping the gun without first lining up all our facts and removing all reasonable doubt.  In most survival situations we won’t have that luxury. We won’t have the means to let a possible villain become a repeat offender because his story about taking a wrong turn into our hidey hole or his assurance that his gun accidentally went of when he was surprised by the guard at the storeroom entrance seems plausible.

Then again, we can always preserve our delicate sensibilities by being the best, most ghostly nomads in all the land. The tribe of peaceful passers who manage to avoid all conflict and consequence.

Sadly, that seems more far fetched than zombies.

  1. To some people who give a shit about spiders and don’t mind reaching blindly into their dark bag to reach back out with a meaty little eight legged monster attached to their arm.
  2. Not likely. Maybe. Hard to say, really.
  3. I’m not sure if people realize that much of this code has crimes dispropionaley punishable by death or in the cause of causing the loss of an unborn child, a fine of 10 or fewer shekels.
  4. hopefully they don’t eat your corpse and start the mutant population boom

tavia.

My parents let me watch and read way too much science fiction and fantasy when I was a child. Now that I'm grown, I'm bored and I can't wait for SkyNet to awaken or the super-virus to cull the human population. I'll be safe because I've learned to reason with robots from Data and the Terminator franchise... and I eat gummy vitamins by the fist-full.

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