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Unbroken's avatar

When is vigilantism justifiable?

Asked by Unbroken (10257 points ) November 2nd, 2012

I heard about the vigilante group in Egypt and was trying to think about the consequences of such action.
When is vigilantism worth the cause, when all other means are exhausted, when their movement or fight is officially recognized, what are some of the reciprocal effects of these seemingly positive wins for society?

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9 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Never if you ask me. Vigilantes take justice into their own hands. Who knows if they are applying the standards of the society in which they operate or just their own views.

Blondesjon's avatar

Batman & Charles Bronson = Justifiable

Berhard Goetz & The Guardian Angels = Not So Much

ucme's avatar

When you massacre folk singers, thus saving your ears from bleeding out.

wonderingwhy's avatar

I imagine it’s justified when enough of the relevant society deems it sufficiently necessary. If the vigilante is following morality of the society in which they operate, they’re fine. Being sanctioned to enforce or judge law doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with what’s right, just, or needed. The problem of course comes when they over-step their bounds, prove unwilling or unable to follow the code society demands, or refuse to step aside when no longer seen as necessary.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Sometimes it’s the only answer, and man, do I hate that answer. If the legal system doesn’t work and a criminal gets away with something horrible, I’m not going to say it’s wrong.

ragingloli's avatar

The power and right to administer justice and assume police responsibilities always flows from the will of the people and society as a whole. By becoming a vigilante, you are assuming a right not granted by your peers, and are thusly acting against their will, and are nothing more than a criminal.

livelaughlove21's avatar

In other words, to quote Shakespeare, “Is it better to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or take arms and by opposing end them?”

To fight fire with fire or to turn the other cheek, that is the question.. It reminds me of a conversation between two characters on my all-time favorite TV show…

“Ben: It depends on the circumstances.

Brian: You’re saying there’s no such thing as absolute right or wrong? That morality is merely a matter of circumstance?

Michael: What the fuck are we talking about?

Brian: Say somebody bashes you and nearly kills you. Does that give you the right to go out and do the same?

Ben: Of course not.

Brian: Why?

Michael: Because two wrongs don’t make a right.

Ben: Besides, there are laws.

Brian: But what if the law failed to protect you? What if the law doesn’t give a shit? Then what?

Michael: Then I guess you’d have to take the law into your own hands.

Ben: No no no! Violence is never a moral option.

Brian: But doing nothing, letting someone bash your brains in, is? ....Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.”

For me, I think that morality does often become circumstantial. Whether that’s good or bad is a moot point, it just is. I believe that sometimes there’s no best option, so we choose whatever fits our needs best. I’d never condone breaking the law though.

josie's avatar

An organized judicial system is established as an alternative to the caprice of vigilantism. They are mutually exclusive. You have to pick one or the other. They cannot co exist.

DWW25921's avatar

Calling an nut case a vigilante is making a hero out of a felon.

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