Basil Fawlty beats his car out of rage, retribution, and ridiculousness. We laugh, because Basil is acting so looney— we laugh at him, we laugh at his irrationality. Why not just figure out the problem with the car and fix it? Thats the sensible thing to do.
This video does a good job of summing up how I feel about the Death Penalty. This is the only way I can explain its continued existence in our society: that it is irrational, overly emotional, and ridiculous.
I got the idea for this post from an article written by Richard Dawkins, in response to an Edge Magazine survey asking for Dangerous Ideas. Here’s an excerpt:
Concepts like blame and responsibility are bandied about freely where human wrongdoers are concerned. When a child robs an old lady, should we blame the child himself or his parents? Or his school? Negligent social workers? In a court of law, feeble-mindedness is an accepted defence, as is insanity. Diminished responsibility is argued by the defence lawyer, who may also try to absolve his client of blame by pointing to his unhappy childhood, abuse by his father, or even unpropitious genes (not, so far as I am aware, unpropitious planetary conjunctions, though it wouldn’t surprise me).
But doesn’t a truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility, whether diminished or not? Any crime, however heinous, is in principle to be blamed on antecedent conditions acting through the accused’s physiology, heredity and environment. Don’t judicial hearings to decide questions of blame or diminished responsibility make as little sense for a faulty man as for a Fawlty car?
You can get the whole article here. And scroll around the rest of that page— I spent over an hour myself trying to absorb some of dangerous ideas there… make sure you’re sitting down when reading them…