Re: virus: Tabacco mind virus

Eva-Lise Carlstrom (
Fri, 1 Aug 1997 13:33:40 -0700 (PDT)

On Fri, 1 Aug 1997, Neco and Jeff wrote:

> Eva-Lise Carlstrom wrote:
> > If I shoot someone dead, that's direct; if I hire someone else to do it,
> > that's indirect. Same culpability, IMHO. Legal labels may vary, but in
> > my moral landscape they're equivalent.
> I've been ignoring this thread too but maybe I'll just jump right in
> here as well. How far are you willing to take this moral equivalence? If
> you vote for the state legislature that decides to impose the death
> penalty and then gives legal authority to a third party to kill a
> criminal on your behalf is that not the moral equivalent of stepping up
> to the criminal yourself and shooting them point blank?

If my intention in voting for a given legislator is to get the death
penalty established and used, then, yes, I should accept responsibilty
for deaths that occur because of it. This can get somewhat muddy,
however, because 1.) I may have voted for the legislator for other
reasons (candidates being clusters of features, not single issues), and
be opposed to the death penalty, and 2.) I may support the
death penalty in some cases, but disagree with how courts impose it.

Or, if you are
> willing to justify such a legalized form of killing (my guess, however,
> is that you would not) because the victim is a heinous criminal who has
> committed cold blooded murder then wouldn't the same 'moral equivalence'
> equate such a murderer with the tobacco executive who has deliberately
> influenced people through lies and manipulation to slowly kill
> themselves purely for personal profit and wouldn't that justify their
> own execution?

If I were given the opportunity to vote on whether there should be a death
penalty within the system of US or more local laws, I would vote no. If I
were confident that the few people I think should die would be the ones
who would, I would favor a death penalty. I don't happen to think tobacco
executives should get the death penalty, even if they are a bunch of
scum-sucking weasels.

If on the other hand, you agree that the voting citizen
> in the above example is indeed the moral equivalent of a murderer then
> is it possible to always avoid participating in such an immoral act?

No. For instance, all available candidates for a position might be
pro-death-penalty. I suppose you could at that point vote for someone not
on the ballot, but that's of very limited utility.

> Whether you approve or not, the legislature in a democratic society is
> acting on behalf of the people and so would indirectly implicate all of
> its citizens in an act that is the moral equivalent of murder, wouldn't
> it?