instincts

instincts

May 28, 2012

I first began to gain a kind of respect for the revenge impulse in human life when we worked, in the early days of this program, on a show about the death penalty. I came to understand that revenge was the original “criminal justice system.” For most of human history, prior to the rule of law, prior to structures of justice that transcend the messiness of human interaction, the threat of retaliation has been a primary tool humans possessed to pursue justice and also to deter cycles of violence. I’ll never forget Sister Helen Prejean, a great campaigner against the death penalty, The Last Words of Texas' Death Row Inmatsdescribing anger as a moral response. The question, of course, is where we let that anger take us.