Monday, February 5, 2007

Justifying Murder

"Do you think of them as 'it'?"
"I did at one time," Rick said. "When my conscience occassionally bothered me about work I had to do; I protected myself by thinking of them that way, but now I no longer find it necessary."
(Phillip K. Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? pg. 125)

What does it mean to be human? It is a question that philosphers have asked for centuries. But to answer the question posed by Phil Resch in this book, it becomes necessary to reword this to apply to life in general: what do we think to justify dehumization? It is interesting to recognize the depth found in this quote, especially in how it applies to two issues: dehumanization and disensitization. The former is the more obvious--it addresses the issue of identity--but the latter is found in the statement "but now I no longer find it necessary." We have already discussed the idea of dehumanization in class, where it was mentioned that war requires people to view the enemy as less than human to kill. But now we come to the issue of justification as it relates to becoming disensitized. There many not be realistic cyborgs like in this book but you can fill in the blank here. Disensitization is found everywhere, and it always begins with justification. "It is alright to play violent video games, they're not actually real murders." "It is alright to watch films with torture sequences, it is just acting." Sure, this may be true, but disensitation can follow and that extends beyond just the games and the movies. This may seem controversial, but should we merely ignore those murders that were attributed to violent games and movies? Maybe you think that it is harmless fun, but those stories do help back my point about justification and its disensitizing result.

Now why don't I increase the controversy with another example. This quote reminded me of another hot topic in society: abortion. Consider this: imagine that the question was really about unborn babies and viewing them as merely an 'it'. Isn't that how we justify killing babies? By claiming that they are not life, we justify their murders, and then we become so disensitized that the justification is no longer necessary. Now you may disagree about whether unborn babies are living, but is that not the issue of justification that I am addressing? Amazing how such a short quote can have such a large implication.

Hopefully my analysis didn't cause too much controversy as well.

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