Crimes of Unreason

Steve Perry sperry at
Wed Mar 10 09:44:29 PST 1999

I agree with where I think Doug is going here--the proper distinctions here are moral more than legalistic, and involve the foreseeable consequences of one's actions.

This is a very provocative thread, for me anyway. The back-and-forth illustrates, among other things, the temptation to invoke a different standard of moral conduct when dealing with power; it also suggests how treacherous this can become for both sides. It reminds me of the periodic debates here about outlawing certain species of hate-speech; while the desire to do so is wholly understandable, it seems to ignore just how easily that standard can be turned back against us--as rhetorical sophistry goes, it's no great trick to claim that practically any argument against the status quo is hate speech, since it seeks to do violence to the "normal" order of things.

---------- From: Doug Henwood Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 1999 11:14 AM To: lbo-talk at Subject: RE: Crimes of Unreason

Max Sawicky wrote:

>Alternatively, if a boss
>runs a factory with a positive fatality rate from industrial accidents, I
>would not automatically consider that a capital crime; it would depend on
>the details.

So a boss who does cost-benefit calculations and thereby decides that a production technique that costs one worker death to same $1m in profit, or 40 cases of cancer in the surrounding neighborhood - what's your judgment on that boss? Is the logic, in the words of Pritchett/Summers, impeccable? Or murderous?

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