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The Ethics of Crime and Punishment


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Sorry to change the subject from the snowy Athens to something unpleasant..

I've been reading about Koufodinas, one of the masterminds and top murderer  (OK, now you see where I'm coming from) of 17 November, a terrorist organization.

He's on a hunger strike asking for a transfer to a different holding facility. There's lots of controversy and views about this and how the state should respond. The previous government had allowed him to leave the prison for limited time on several occasions.

What do you think about this?

For some background info: The bloody path of 17 November

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By Lazarus,

The topic was split of  General News Regarding Greece Or Greek Society as I believe it requires its own space of discussion.

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He killed people, innocent people. Their families will never get those people back, their children will grow up fatherless, their wives' widowed.  I am sorry but you can't ask for mercy when you are responsible for so many deaths.  Does he even feel remorse? What kind of precedent does that send? Every killer that wants to get released would just not eat.  

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To be fair, the people that have been hurt by NOV 17 have been for the greater part targeted for political reasons, there are very few civilians that have been hurt by NOV17 attacks. I would not go out on a limb and say wether or not I think he deserves this or that, I am not informed enough to have a responsible opinion. But as far as I do know, they targeted specific persons that were their ideological enemies and were not recklessly bombing public spaces and putting civilians at risk unnecessarily, that is something I can respect or find something honorable in.

Thanks for posting @athinaios, care to share any of your own thoughts? 

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According to Greece's legal system he has been found guilty of murder (or assassination). You can call it what you want -- the end result is the same. He has deprived people of the right to live. Whether for political reasons or religious reasons or whatever reasons, depriving a human being of life is considered a punishable crime in modern society. Koufodinas has been fully aware of his actions and has not claimed insanity or other outside factors that would render him incapable of controlling his actions.

He has not shown any remorse and has not repented for inflicting harm upon others.

Should the country's laws not hold him accountable and punishable by whatever the legal and social system deems as a fair punishment?

On 3/7/2021 at 8:24 AM, Brklyngrk said:

I am sorry but you can't ask for mercy when you are responsible for so many deaths.

He is demanding it! It would have been more appropriate for him to beg for it but he give the impressions that his sense of entitlement does not allow him to acknowledge any wrongdoing -- hence his demand.

If one considers 'honorable' the trade of 'murder for political reasons' , why does being 'honorable' not extend to paying the price of incarceration - when found guilty - for breaking laws and trampling on the rights of others? It's the honorable thing to do, isn't it? You play the game - you pay the price if caught!

What political ideology denies a human the right to life?

Alas, I don't have the answers to any of my questions.

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Of course murder is wrong, but if someone considers themselves to be a guerilla type soldier fighting  and taking out the enemy is one thing, and civilians are another. Many groups purposely target civilians because it is easier, it causes more fear or for several other reasons. This is something as far as I know NOV17 does not do. They strategically would target people that they deemed to be legitimate targets. Like I said earlier I don't approve of those murders either, but I can respect that they do not recklessly and senselessly kill just any person at random. Also my reply was in response to the ppst above mine about the killing of"many innocent" people. 

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4 hours ago, Tzatziki said:

Also my reply was in response to the ppst above mine about the killing of"many innocent" people. 

And that description was accurate, was it not? Those people were innocent in the eyes of Justice and under the laws of the country. Just because some people might consider them guilty of wrongdoing because they work for a different government, may be part of a different political system or believe in a different God, does not make it so.

In modern society, we cannot have unqualified individuals acting as judge and executioner. Then we would all have a very short life span.

17 November did not refrain from having collateral casualties because of any sort of belief, standard or political philosophy. They did so because they needed public support and Greece's left wing fringe behind them. None of that would be possible if they had innocent bystanders paying the price for them being sloppy. And if the public was not behind them or just sympathize with them, they would not have lasted that long without being arrested and dismantled.

 

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You are right Laz. But innocence in the eyes of the law does not mean necessarily mean that one is morally or ethically beyond reproach. Same way not all who are labelled criminals are wrong or bad. Laws and legal systems are far from perfect. Politicians lets say that start wars and kill countless non combatants do what they do legally. Arguably if the colonial powers had not caused a mess the way they did, not just in Greece but the world over, NOV17 and many terrorist organizations would never exist in the first place.

Again not coming out to say NOV17 is justified. But there is nuance, and I can respect a group that has some sort of values or a code and sticks to it, willing to fight for what they believe is a righteous cause. I hope I am not coming off as a supporter of murder, I do not even kill spiders lol. But I can understand how some people fight and chose to do so with the use targeted targeted or strategic violence.

Mandela was labeled a terrorist. Israel would not be a state today if groups like Hagana, Stern gang and others did not employ terrorist tactics, nobody ever brings that up. Kolokotronis was at a time imprisoned for treason, Socrates was sentenced to death...the law isn't always right.

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7 hours ago, Tzatziki said:

You are right Laz. But innocence in the eyes of the law does not mean necessarily mean that one is morally or ethically beyond reproach.

All good points! And by no means do I consider myself being right. Just questioning things (like you are) and trying to make sense of what is happening around me.

Back to the subject. Personally I would not put Mandela or Kolokotronis in the same boat as Koufodinas. I would not hold 17 November on the same level of moral equivalency as the Greek Revolution for Independence. But it definitely is worth discussing why not. Of course this is not going to happen in this single post, but a conversation that we can delve deeper into with time.

I will outline my thoughts as time permits.

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In an advanced, constitutional democracy, as Max Weber put it, the monopoly of legitimate violence should be given only to the state. Otherwise, there's no law and order when private groups or individuals act as judge/jury and implementer of violence.  I think it's good that we don't publicly lynch people, even if they're guilty of a crime.

I'm surprised that Hitler didn't come up... Usually he does in heated debates. So, would you kill Hitler when he was writing Mein Kampf in 1925? That's on the ..assumption he was an evil person in 1925 (without the knowledge you have today about him). But then you should also kill Koufodinas when he was first speaking about an armed struggle. Needless to say, you should have killed Marx too. Trump for sure. And, everyone you thought as representing any country or government you don't agree with. 

Personally, I don't feel comfortable when a terrorist group, like 17 November, operates no matter what their methods are. Furthermore, there was no justification, in my mind, that killing, even if carefully targeted person, is an acceptable struggle in a generally peaceful, constitutional democracy. Even if a system is not perfect, you can't use murder as an instrument of politics.

I also believe that if you employ a tactic, or a certain morality, you give permission to others to do the same. If you steal from me, then you accept that stealing is OK, and that others can do it to you. In this sense Koufodinas is mocking the system then by making demands. I'm not saying that we should act like him, but I don't think he has mistreated so badly by the state. He is not like any political prisoner. He's not incarcerated because of his politics--let's get this straight. He's imprisoned because he has murdered 11 people and terrorized the public.

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  • 2 weeks later...

 Let's take Dick Cheney for example, if NOV 17 or someone else wanted to have a go at him, I would not lose ANY sleep.

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For argument's sake, if they were successful in ''having a go at him'', would and should they stop there? If so why? Shouldn't their 'courtesy' extend to all those that meet their 'courtesy requirements', which is 90% of those that oppose them ideologically?

Also, I am assuming that you agree with 17 November ideologically since you endorse a hypothetical event. But endorsing the actions of 'someone else' is puzzling, especially since you set forth no conditions as long as they achieve the desired outcome. In this case: as long as somebody has a go at Dick Cheney, you wouldn't and couldn't care at all what they stand and why they did it. Does that sound about right?

Or maybe I just totally misunderstood your statement.  (It happens sometimes)

On 3/12/2021 at 10:07 PM, athinaios said:

He's not incarcerated because of his politics--let's get this straight. He's imprisoned because he has murdered 11 people and terrorized the public.

Yes, people need to understand this distinction. Murder is a murder is a murder no matter how you coat it.

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Let's be careful of what you morally authorize (or don't care enough to lose sleep over it). Is this how we should conduct politics? Through physical violence and even murder? And, if so, what kind of law would you pass?  And, and, what kind of society would this entail?

Outside politics, we have the notion of vigilantism. Advanced societies don't allow revenge killings, and I think with very good reason. It may be fun in the movies to get some satisfaction by seeing bad guys getting "bumped" (I enjoyed the Sopranos, for example), but I wouldn't like to see this happening in real life as a way for solving injustice.

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Some people are beyond bad, lying cheating stealing is bad. The death of a million plus people (and the theft or profit of hundreds of millions in blood money) or any number close to it is beyond bad, if this is (was) one of our leaders...I would argue that the notion of a civil society is just that, it is not real.

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