The pacifist's fallacy

© 2005-2008 Paul Cooijmans

The fallacy

Righteous persons who are faced with evil-doers and decide to stand up to and punish the latter often meet with opposition from not only the criminal but also from apparently good citizens. This second type of opposition, which I have termed the Pacifist's Fallacy, can be summed up as follows:

If John hits Jack and Jack hits back, Jack lowers himself to John's level and becomes just as bad as John.

This is a fallacy because John is hitting an innocent while Jack is hitting a guilty, and therefore not equally bad. People's inability to understand this or, let alone, arrive at it by thinking, may result from lack of reasoning ability. Sense of justice is rooted in logic. In addition or alternatively, this inability may result from narrow associative horizon paired to high intelligence, possibly combined with the ideological indoctrination to which such personalities are so highly susceptible. The exact cause of this fallacy is still under consideration.

The societal relevance of this lies in the Pacifist's Fallacy sufferers' rising to high positions in politics and justice, and thus becoming responsible for society's treatment of crime; in actuality, for Western society's too soft treatment thereof.

Comment and response

A comment made to this article is, "If Jack hits back, John may hit Jack again, resulting in a spiral of violence".

The response to this comment is: If John hits Jack again, this constitutes a new crime which must not be mistaken for a response to Jack's defence, and he is again wrong and guilty, and this in no way changes the fact that Jack is not equally bad.

Also, if Jack refrains from hitting back out of fear that John will hit again, he is giving in to terror, and this policy - refraining from a firm punishment out of fear that the criminal will commit new crimes after having been punished - effectively equates to letting the bad have their way with society. It means to hand society over to the bullies.

Finally, it must be understood that Jack's hitting back should ideally be dosed so that John can and will not hit again; John must be put out of action in one blow. Jack's response must not be "proportional", as current law sadly dictates, but supreme, leaving John no chance. John does not deserve a chance (to hit again) as he is the aggressor, the attacker, and the guilty, and one could even argue that it is unethical to leave the aggressor able to commit a new evil deed, to hit again, as that would only add more suffering and injustice to the world.