Face It: We Need Revenge

Thane Rosenbaum in newser, July 28, 2011

Media Source

By Kevin Spak

  (Newser) – Norway doesn’t have the death penalty, and that means it’s “legally and morally” unprepared to deal with the likes of Anders Breivik, the man allegedly responsible for the Oslo massacre, argues legal scholar Thane Rosenbaum in the New York Times. Americans, meanwhile, are outraged over the acquittal of Casey Anthony. “In both cases the attraction of a nonlegal alternative is a powerful one,” Rosenbaum writes. “Are these vengeful feelings morally appropriate? The answer is yes.”

Most people aren’t comfortable with the term vengeance, “but how different is revenge from justice, really?” Rosenbaum asks. Vengeance, he argues, is “as natural to the human species as love and sex.” From Hamlet to Gladiator, our art and culture have always celebrated avengers. Legal systems have “a moral duty to satisfy the needs of victims to feel avenged.”