Lynch mobs; Right or wrong?

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#1 Dec 16th, 2004, 13:21
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  • steven_ber is offline
#1
Hardly a day goes by without me reading about a man or group of men getting beaten to death by a 'lynch mob' in India.

On a suburban train platform in Calcutta on Monday, 4 armed extortionists were trying to get money from some platform vendors, a train pulled into the platform, a group of passengers noticed what was happening, got hold of the 4 men and beat them to death.

Other examples that come to mind are: -

Train robbers.

A person thought to have caused a fatal road accident.

A rapist.

A pushbike thief.


Why does this happen?

Is this the right way to deal with criminals?

Can tourists ever understand why this happens?

Is this kind of thing happening more or less than in the past?

Is there another way?

Will it ever stop?
#2 Dec 16th, 2004, 14:14
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#2
Years ago, I was walking through Kathmandu with a Peace Corps friend who spoke the local languages, and we came across a few men who were holding one fellow by the arms and yelling at him. Apparently, he'd tried to break into someone's shop and they were waiting for the owner to appear.

The owner listened to the story, and started punching the would-be thief, who was still being held by the other men. After a time, he was released, apologized to the shopowner, and left the area.

So, not exactly a lynch mob, but INSTANT "tribal justice."

Now, in Northern California, after very long public trials which took place several years after the killing (one of a pregnant wife, the other of three health inspectors at a sausage factory), both these criminals have been sentenced to death. However, they will live and be supported by taxpayers (around $60,000 per year) for at least ten years while they appeal their sentences. If the appeals go through, we'll be supporting them until they die.

Frankly, Stephen, I prefer "instant justice."
#3 Dec 16th, 2004, 15:21
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#3
MMmmm I see what your saying WWusa but I notice many of the mob beatings here in India are meated out to people who were "acting supsiciously" these folks are sometimes killed therefor we'll never Know if instant justice was in fact rough justice!!
#4 Dec 16th, 2004, 15:25
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Any thieves if caught by a crowd are punished instantaneously. It’s the thief who desperately expect the police to arrive to the sene Once in police custody you can negotiate, settle, talk about rules……the options are endless.

I’ve witnessed even thieves getting beaten up and killed. They looted a village in the night. The villagers encircled the village and did a combing. They beaten up the thieves and then take to police station or hospital whichever. In this case they brought the beaten up thieves to the hospital for ‘treatment’. To their horror they realized that one of the thieves was not dead! The staff tried to save this fellow. The agitated villagers demanded the hospital staff that this person should not be treated. There was a tension.

Pick pocketing at a touristy place is one thing and doing it at a village or place where people live is another thing.

If caught, justice is delivered on the spot….call it jungle justice or otherwise.
#5 Dec 16th, 2004, 15:29
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#5
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Originally Posted by steven_ber Is this the right way to deal with criminals?
I do understand your point, WWUSA, but I still think it is the wrong way.

IMHO the crowd can never provide a just method of punishment for the crime: the sense of collective responsibility, that is inherent in these lynches, would imply that any single individual in the crowd does not feel individually responsible for his/her actions, and that impairs their judgement.

forgive me for sloppy English i hope I have managed to get a point across. it's a fascinating area, the psychology of crowds
#6 Dec 16th, 2004, 17:54
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#6
Justice has to be detached and cool. There are crimes such as rape, and abuse of children where friends and family or community cannot possibly be detached. Even strangers on hearing of such crimes want to see the perpetrator suffer a horrible death. I know this, because I have felt this way when hearing some news items. Thus I am glad that (in my country) professionals will deal with the matter, consider the circumstances and sentence appropriately.

I am also glad that we no longer hang people here in UK and I don't consider judicial murder acceptable. Of course it still happens in India.
~
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#7 Dec 16th, 2004, 17:57
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#7
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Originally Posted by volga_volga it's a fascinating area, the psychology of crowds
Unfortunately it tends towards the lowest common denominator.

Civilized? Us humans?
#8 Dec 16th, 2004, 18:15
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#8
Quote:
Originally Posted by volga_volga IMHO the crowd can never provide a just method of punishment for the crime: the sense of collective responsibility, that is inherent in these lynches, would imply that any single individual in the crowd does not feel individually responsible for his/her actions, and that impairs their judgement.
Individual responsibility takes a hiding when the thief is accompanied with a couple of his frens who are loaded with home made revolver and knives.
One of my friend, once during a bus journey, saw a thief pick pocketing a middle aged guy and got hold of the thief's hand. The thief started pushing him and 2 of his frens came from nowhere and shoved my friend out of the bus, there they all took out their knives but, god bless some policemen just came by and those guys ran away.
Sometimes its called foolishness to get into something from which you can't get out. So you need a crowd to get hold of these guys. But the problem is crowd, being a crowd is very unpredictable. Sometimes they hand those guys over peacefully or sometimes they will deal with them themselves.
#9 Dec 16th, 2004, 19:06
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#9
The idea of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth as means to “justice” only propagates new crimes and in my opinion has brought the world to the misery it’s in today. What about the lynchers? Shouldn’t they in their turn be avenged for the blood on their hands by the family of the (new) victim? And so forth. Participating in a killing of a man from out a crowd is a cowardly act. It may quench those individual’s desire for blood, but has nothing to do with justice for it is a crime in itself. I agree that the juridical system does not deliver “Justice” as we would feel right and many criminals “hide” behind it just like the mob does behind their “right cause”.
#10 Dec 16th, 2004, 19:52
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#10
Rightly said V_V.

I have been witness to a few such beatings (not lynchings) in Delhi, where a person was beaten blue and black when caught snatching a chain or committing a minor offense. Often the offender becomes a soft target and the beating itself becomes just a way to vent anger and frustration (not necessarily related to the offense).

On the other hand, we have had cases like the one in Mumbai, where a
mentally challanged girl was being raped in a moving train and the
co-passangers just stood there paralysed and did not offer any help, not wanting to get involved.

In a recent incident in Nagpur, a mob of women lynched a local goon while he was under trial in the court room (probably in front of a judge). The man had several criminal cases pending against him, including rape, molestation, murder and extortion. He had been arrested 14 times and let go scot-free. Five women were arrested and later released on bail when hundreds other took to the streets protesting their arrest. This was not a random act of lynching, but perhaps a planned and premeditated one. They all owned the responsibilty - collectively and individually.

I guess it is difficult to take sides on this one. But these random acts of violence are not the norm, they are very very rare, more common in some places than others.
#11 Dec 16th, 2004, 20:27
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#11
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Originally Posted by steven_ber
A person thought to have caused a fatal road accident.
I've been wondering about this one. What if you're a passenger in a taxi/rickshaw that is perceived to have caused the accident? Does the mob beat you too, along with the driver? I've heard of such incidents, "reported" also in the novel "Shantaram" by Greg Roberts.

So my question is: if I'm sitting in the back of a rickshaw that causes a serious accident, do I try to escape the scene as quickly as possible to save my hide from a serious beating?
#12 Dec 16th, 2004, 20:30
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#12
On a legal basis, it *would* always come out as wrong, to lynch. I guess, it's the situation where people get caught which makes the difference. In parts of Bihar, thieves' ears & noses are chopped, eyes put out as a part of mob induced lynching. That's instant justice for you. A moment's indiscretion and a lifetime of regret and scarred lives later.

The scary thing is, people who are good at this, use it to settle political, personal and business scores. A lot of innocent people get the 'treatment' from a so-called mob. You , passing by would sometimes never know.
#13 Dec 16th, 2004, 21:38
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#13
I remember a french guy in Goa who had the word ' Thief ' scratched onto his forehead by a group of westerners who caught him red handed after a spate of thieving in anjuna.
#14 Dec 16th, 2004, 22:23
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#14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasko So my question is: if I'm sitting in the back of a rickshaw that causes a serious accident, do I try to escape the scene as quickly as possible to save my hide from a serious beating?
First, step out quickly, clear of the accident; then decide your options. Mostly, you can sort it out without getting involved unless the driver manages to convince the gathering crowd that YOU wanted to drive fast. If you try to vamoose, you'll be chased and beaten, probably.

At least, the arguments I've seen, the driver is in the thick of the things and he might sometime turn to the passenger(whether Indian or otherwise) for a quick payoff to the other party. Then it's upto you to decide there.....
#15 Dec 16th, 2004, 23:50
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So if I'm not injured in the accident itself, there's still the danger of getting injured in the following scrap-up. Sounds like a crappy deal.
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