A left-wing paper sold in my town by homeless people had an article on teaching “peace” to prisoners. The key part:
‘ “I realized that I always have choices, and that I have to take responsibility for the choices I make,” he said. “For example, I’d be sitting in the TV room and this big guy comes in and says, ‘You’re sitting in my chair.’ I could fight and get beaten up and a guard might see us and we both end up in the hole (segregation). I’d have to accept the consequences of my choice. Or I could say, ‘Would you let me finish watching this show?’ Or I could move because it doesn’t matter that much to me where I sit. Once I realized that I had choices I stopped being a victim,” Grand said. ‘
That is the liberal answer to evil, to just submit to it. This avoids violence, and it avoids actual, real justice, which horrifies liberals beyond all else, because the Sermon on the Mount specifically prohibits it.
There’s actually two problems here. The more obvious, and far less serious, is the removal of and control of a good by force. If a man tells you “Get out of the chair or I will hurt you” he is removing a good from you not for another good, but for in exchange of not doing a harm, that is “giving” you something that is already yours, your well-being. That’s not right, and not just, but at least he is being honest, direct, and transparent.
The second, more insidious and far worse problem is the way the demand is stated. “Get out of my chair.” In this case the demander is only asking for what is rightfully his, and he is doing no wrong at all. The sitter is in fact the one who is at fault- he is occupying another man’s chair! The sitter is not only supposed to surrender the comfortable chair, he must tacitly acknowledge his unjust occupation of it.
But why do bad people do this? If you’re a large, violent man in a prison, it seems strange you would be concerned with maintaining an appearance of justice and fairness. And yet even bad people know right and wrong, and feel the need to justify themselves. A kidnapper-robber-murderer on one of those MSNBC prison shows justified his actions by saying he used the money to buy stuff for his kids.
The prisoner interviewed gives his first, and least desirable option as immediately fighting. But there is another option. Let’s assume you are evenly matched with the demander. You can say, quite truthfully, “This isn’t your chair”. And indeed as the chair in question is the property of the Department of Corrections- undoubtedly labeled as such, perhaps even with an inventory number- this is the case. The demander can then attempt to press his case logically, and offer reasons why the sitter should leave, or he can simply reassert his demand.
It’s very unlikely he will do either of these though. He will almost certainly take a third course, what I call a “chimp out”. This comes from the way chimpanzees have of asserting their status by making loud noises, baring their fangs, and jumping up and down. Aggressive, manipulative people do essentially the same thing. If you refuse them they show a great deal of mock anger and offense, with the goal of intimidating the victim into compliance.
The victim is likely to comply, both from the perfectly natural, normal, and healthy emotion of fear- the person is likely to harm them if they refuse- and from the totally artificial emotion of guilt. Again, the Sermon on the Mount demands compliance with the demand. The Christian method of avoiding conflict is to give into any demand, rather than testing it for justness or reasonableness.
The law of the jungle is a harsh but simple thing. What does an 800 lb. gorilla eat for breakfast? Anything he wants! I was robbed at knifepoint once, and as annoying as the whole thing was, at the moment the exchange of my wallet for not being stabbed was perfectly reasonable. Much more distressing was when I was abused for being “ugly- stupid- gay” when the real reason was the other kid was just bigger than me.
“Peace” obtained by ceding not only the goods but the moral right to the aggressor is something, but it is anything but peace.