of the real world, but that doesn’t stop us from watching them and wishing they were real because sometimes the reality hits you and you wonder, why can’t the world be kinder and nicer and better?
Instead of asking, “Why can’t people be kind,” ask something like, “Do you want to be kind?”
Place the responsibility on yourself and I ask that you be kind, if I could ask you that, in the first place.
Do I have that right if I cannot say I am kind?
What is justice, what is right and what is wrong, does it matter and who cares?
“Let 99 thieves go but do not convict an innocent.” – a common legal axiom that began with Blackstone
The basis of a justice system is “Innocent until proven guilty,” because the apparatus of the state and court is seen as having greater power and resources – it, therefore, lies with the prosecutor/accuser to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused are guilty.
There are a couple of problems with having people to judge people, also the reason why at times, more than a non-jury, a trial by jury is likely to result in inaccurate decisions, factually disproven later on.
Also particularly why in dramas you see lawyers asking for a trial by jury when you have a criminal whose main power and mitigating factor lies in emotional appeal. (A New Leaf, The Case of a Dropout)
(as a little note, I have no idea if dramas are factually accurate, but today is a day of discussion of mainly in a legal drama context. If I want to extrapolate to the real world, I will make a note of it!)
So what do I think?
I think that the 99 guilty being set free is not the right thing to do. Imprisoning one innocent isn’t right of course – but it once again lies with the state to do their best to prove people to be guilty of their charges, and the facts speak for themselves.
Judges are meant to be impartial – taking a side from the beginning means that the judge has been compromised.
Of course, at the same time, one must make sure that prosecutors are not corrupt or coercive – though most legal dramas have at least one?
I wouldn’t, given that theoretical choice, set the 99 free. I would gather all the 100 and tell them that we will imprison all knowing that one of you is innocent – further investigation would either confirm or lead to retrial.
“I’ve never quite understood why thieves,” Judge Han Sesang to Judges Im and Park (Ms Hammurabi)
“What happens if it becomes burglars, or murderers, or rapists etc. etc. ?”
What is interesting is that Ms Hammurabi is written by an actual judge – it is assuring to hear that judges ask questions like this.
I wouldn’t release 99 criminals that commit crimes serious enough to warrant jailing.
Maybe this leads to a review of what is serious enough to warrant jailing? I will find out more another time and write another post, trying to be more factual.
But, as a layperson, I think so because I think I will never be in that position. If I were to be in that position, I say that I will agree to be jailed so that the 99 are free, but the thing about all these thought experiments is that they are testing of ideologies to their limit, to their extremest so that people can see the implications of their beliefs and values.
Would that be my reaction if I were in that actual position? I do not know.
Look at the tussle of killing innocents and protecting innocents in Sketch, Jang Tae Joon to Kim Do Jin,
“Today you will for the first and last time, kill an innocent.”
They recognise it and consider that sacrifice to be necessary.
Not questioning anything else, but the intent in itself to protect more innocents is not ‘wrong’.
If we used intent as the basis of ‘right’ then I guess that’s one way of doing it.
If we used the outcome, the net innocent people who lived, that also is another way of doing it.
“The intent matters. The ends do not justify the means. People are ends in themselves and not to be means to an end.”
The world is a place where people are constantly being used, constantly using themselves and others and this is clearly illustrated in the hundred and one backstabs we see in chaebol dramas, prosecutors vying for a top spot, politicians trying to one-up rivals.
We also see similar trends across countries, though the particular social structures vary by country, this message of human greed rings true.
I disagree that intent matters more than the end result. We have laws that punish negligence, manslaughter the like for a reason.
We believe in the idea of there being some form of free will – otherwise, there would be no basis for the law to punish people.
I do think that intent matters, it can be a mitigating factor but for one, how do you ascertain that intent?
But intent does not change the final result.
A person who gives someone a bottle of medicine that kills someone who eats it, their intent to aid the person has to stand against their motive to actively murder a person.
But that doesn’t change that the person is dead.
Punishment is not always for the sake of the victim – in cases where the victim has died, what is punishment for?
Closure of the relatives, for society to see that we cannot stand for such a thing, as a deterrence.
Same reason why countries, like (well) Singapore, have the death penalty for drug trafficking. Because through the action they will destroy hundreds, thousands of lives.
The emphasis is not on the people who have been harmed, but people who could be while people like that who partake in a job knowing that people will suffer due to their actions, due to their need for money or the like.
(A question of, would you kill a hundred people for money? Could you kill a hundred people for the sake of saving a family member?)
Is this an open-faced condemnation or defense of the death penalty that has somehow been inscribed into me due to the education system I have grown up in?
That doesn’t change that I do think this way.
Again, I rather imprison the 100 than allow the 99 to be free. On a whole, is it better for society to live knowing that the innocent can be on occasion locked up, or to live knowing that thousands of criminals run free because the state is too afraid that people will be wrongly convicted?
Perhaps it is a bias but I would like to put forth this idea that we should be pushing the justice system forward to be better, more impartial better at gathering evidence rather than regressing and prosecuting fewer criminals for fear that they are innocent.
But now, go back to our (example up there) and think of it this way.
You have the choice between saving two of your family members and ten strangers. All these are theoretical choices but treat them with seriousness.
I will pick to save my family because I am not an objective person. I admit that I am not objective and my rationale for saving my family is purely emotional. I do not care about the strangers if there is immediate danger to my family.
This, however, can become a problem, as Sketch’s Kang Dong Soo finds out.
“My wife is safe, I am satisfied.” I’m sure you can guess what happens after.
But, of course there is a final bit to this puzzle where people sometimes ask me, how can you agree to imprison 100 for the greater good but save your family over a bunch of strangers.
To marry these two ideas, you end up with two variations.
- (Boat version) There are two family members and 10 convicted murderers. Who do you save? Sometimes people put forth the argument to me that you cannot value a human life as more than or less than that of another.I am unhesitant in saying that “All human lives are equal” is a lie because no one has that kind of objectivity until you label humans with just numbers on a spreadsheet and then, isn’t objectification of humans bad? So I am quite clear on the stand that my family is more important to me than a bunch of strangers.
100 strangers, 1000 strangers, 10000… so on and so forth, there will be no X number that I would trade in my family members, friends for. There will be no X number. None. Because to me, these people are more important than numbers on paper.
(Additionally, how would they choose these people? What if world leaders are among them? In what sort of circumstance would you even face such a ridiculous situation? These questions can matter later on.)
Does a thought like this deserve condemnation? I would like to see people placed in that situation choose to sacrifice their loved one, receive the gratitude of strangers whom they may never see again and live with that guilt knowing that it was your choice that your loved one is gone.
It is far easier to live with the guilt that other people want you to feel than it is to live with the guilt that you impose upon yourself. You would drive yourself mad.
- (Prison version) There are a hundred people and your family member is one of them. The problem with this is that if a family member is guilty then they are punished according to the law. If I believe they are guilty I will then have to prove it, no?If I cannot prove it, seeing the evidence of the prosecution then I would not be such a fool as to believe my family member when they say that they are innocent – in the face of evidence things cannot be denied and I will ask for the truth.
Blind loyalty and belief in this world does not work, only in the face of incessant questioning do people arrive at the best version of themselves. My presumption may be innocent as they say so, but as the evidence piles up, I do not trust my emotions to be strong enough.
Therefore, again the answer to imprisoning the 100 is yes.
(Ah, but what happens if we upscale the punishment to a death penalty..?)
As mentioned before, these attempts to rationalise such extraordinary circumstances matters, of course, in an attempt to reason your way to an answer, to give set requirements for decisions – but these do not matter because you will unlikely ever be placed in such a situation.
For normal people without much power, these decisions manifest themselves in smaller scale, there is no need to agonise over what to do if it happens because it will not.
But the concern becomes, as seen in those countless dramas, the people in power make decisions like this. In Sketch they kill innocents to save more, in Miss Hammurabi they question if the rich are always stronger, in Bad Guys criminals get a new lease of life as criminal-hunters.
But what about you?
What do you think you would do, and what do you think society should think, or what should your courts pursue?
Are these different?
Save all the innocent souls or
kill the guilty ones, choose
a balance between evil
and good, it is yours as
You bang the gavel, shatter hopes and dreams, pleas of innocence, with the weight of evidence; With power you discard the voice of the innocent, consider them guilty
on the virtue that
they have not proven
themselves to be innocent
due to evidence before you?
[A man is now dead. In all iterations of the trolley problem, taking action is murder. I do not deny that.]