ChooChooTrain wrote:Let's look at this specific case that the thread is about. First, we have to ask if there is something inherently wrong with "cockfighting" the mentally retarded. I think there is. Second, we have to ask if the people responsible knew that what they were doing was wrong. I think they did. They knew the behavior was off-limits, but they were, "just being dicks."
I agree that what they did was wrong and the abusers most likely knew that it was wrong. However, I think to say that they were "just being dicks" is oversimplifying the matter (although I'm pretty sure you know that).
Let's take, for example, the Romans forcing prisoners to fight vicious animals. The person who originally came up with the idea for this punishment was probably a sadist through and through. They probably didn't even consider the prisoners human or have any kind of empathy for them. They probably also enjoyed the idea of watching someone whom they thought was beneath them kill or be killed violently. I believe that it's these types of people (whether mentally unstable, a product of their environment, or both) are the cause of these types of instances.
The same type of person(s) most likely started this event at the mental hospital. What caused other people to get involved, stay quiet, and take pictures with their cell phones? Peer pressure and morbid curiosity, both of which most likely desensitized them to the fact that they were playing with the well-being and lives of people who couldn't make the decisions needed to defend themselves. There was most likely a social aspect here, and I'm assuming it was similar to the affect of thousands of Romans gathering to watch someone being mauled to death. "Everyone else seems to be okay with it, so I'll sit back and let my morbidity be satisfied."
Deplorable? Absolutely. But it's a result of a complex psychological phenomenon that we don't fully understand. For example, most people have heard of the Milgram study years ago in which people were asked to press a button to deliver an electric shock to a person that they couldn't see but could hear. Even after hearing the screaming victim, when instructed to do so, 70% were prepared to increase the voltage. Well, apparently people haven't changed much
. This may be an example of a reaction to authority, but I think it is more closely linked with the incident at the mental hospital. People do disturbing things when it comes to social pressure.
ChooChooTrain wrote:Lethal, are the things parents teach their kids actually true principals, or are they just convenient? When your parents teach you that it's wrong to steal, murder, and rape, are they telling the truth? Are those things actually inherently evil, or are they no different morally from any other action?
That depends on how you define "inherently evil." The trouble with thinking that there is some evil presence in the world is that it actually gives people a rationale to commit heinous crimes. While "the devil made me do it" isn't an accepted reasoning for any crime, there are many people who believe that when someone murders, rapes, or steals, the devil or evil is inside them. I guess my point is that saying something is "inherently evil" means that the people committing the crimes are evil people, and once a person considers themselves "evil," there is literally no end to the heinous acts of which they are capable.
My belief is that morality is based on both not causing pain or loss for another human being, as well as cultural norms and standards. People who torture, rape, and murder are either mentally unstable and responding to a desire that will cause pain or loss to another, or they are responding to pressures of social acceptance, fear of authority, or self preservation (such as murder in self defense). By looking at these dysfunctions and motives, you remove the power and superstition behind the word "evil" and begin to prevent these things from happening through understanding and education.