Has Justice Been Done?

December 14, 2011

Political action, Political Theory


Police stand by the body of one of the Senegalese vendors murdered in the shooting.

Within just this past week, three very unusual shootings took place around the Globe.  The first shooting occurred in Florence, Italy where an individual being described as a far-right militant, shot and killed two street vendors.  Witnesses say they saw the gunman calmly get out of a car, walk right up to a group a vendors, and fire off three shots. The gunman then took his own life with a fourth shot.  With only four pulls of a trigger, 50-year-old Gianluca Casseri, took the lives of himself, two other men, and left another paralyzed  for the rest of his life.  The shooting is being declared as a racist attack due to evidence that suggests Casseri was deliberately targeting immigrants from the African nation of Senegal.

Tyler Brehm lies in agony from gunshot wounds as two police officers approach him.

The second shooting was perhaps even more peculiar, as it   happened early in the morning in Hollywood, California right in the middle of the street. 26-year-old Tyler Brehm began shooting strangers in a McDonald’s parking lot at around 10 a.m. He eventually made his way to the corner of Sunset Boulevard and fired approximately 20 rounds and cars driving by.  Brehm successfully murdered only one individual, John Atterberry, who took 3 rounds to the face and neck.  Atterberry, a 40-year-old music executive, had worked with the likes of Jessica Simpson and the Spice Girls.  After running out of ammunition, two police officers crossed his path and shot him multiple times. Brehm later died from his wounds.  Brehm reportedly broke up with his girlfriend of 5 years just days before the shooting spree, prompting officials to declare the resulting depression as his motive.  You can see a short clip of the gunman in action here.

The body of a victim lies in the center of the Place St. Lambert Square in Liege, Belgium

The third incident is arguably the most disturbing.  A man identified as 33-year-old Nordine Amrani took to the streets of Liege, Belgium armed with grenades, a rifle, and a handgun.  Witnesses say Amrani started randomly hurling grenades and spraying bullets into the town square crowded with Christmas shoppers.  Amrani had previously been arrested in 2008 after being convicted on multiple weapon and drug charges.  However, this is the first time Amrani has been involved in a violent act.  He managed to kill a 75-year-old woman,  three teenage boys, and a 2-year-old girl before taking his own life.    At least 120 others were injured in the attack.

These attacks encouraged me to take another look at Socrates and his decision to obey, even though he considered his conviction unjust.  Only, in all three of these circumstances, the shooters decided to do the opposite in disobeying even though their actions would lead to just convictions.

Crito argued with Socrates saying that a person must do what the person knows is right.  Furthermore, that not to do something that one knows is right is unmanly.  Therefore, because Socrates knows that the death sentence is unjust, he should disobey.  Could it have been that Gianluca Casseri, the shooter in the first case , believed that it was unjust for Senegalese immigrants to settle in Italy?

Socrates then offers an incomplete explanation as to why he is deciding to obey.  He states that opinions are not knowledge, and that knowledge, not opinions, is what will lead to goodness and justice.  Listening to experts and denouncing evil acts are also comprised in his argument which, as we discussed in class, makes him appear as somewhat of a martyr.  Being that each shooter took their own life after their crimes, could it be that one or all of the three shooters had thought themselves to be martyr’s?

My thought is that, even though I’m disturbed and appalled at all three of the shootings, could it be  that in each of these individuals’ minds they had actually come to the conclusion that they were  committing a just act?  Would Socrates or Crito be able to argue that these three men actually had justification to disobey?  Is there any justice that can be had for the victims now that their attacker is deceased?  Finally, do you believe that the death of the perpetrators’ is the ultimate form of justice and now, that they are dead, there is no further action to be taken?

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3 Comments on “Has Justice Been Done?”

  1. William Burton Says:

    I really don’t think that Socrates is a good comparison for these three individuals. Even if they thought they were combating something unjust, that does not mean that their actions were just.

  2. William Burton Says:

    In this case don’t think the issue is civil disobedience, because the laws that they are not following are not laws that combat allow for the unjustness of a particular situation, and thus, by breaking those laws these people are not bringing attention to the unjustness (if there is one) but rather, are simply murdering people.

  3. djavolio8 Says:

    I acknowledge your points, however, if you read carefully in the 4th paragraph you will see that I too believe that their actions were not acceptable and would have led to inevitable convictions. My intention is not to support or somehow protect their actions, but rather to speculate whether or not the actions of these men could have arisen from points made by Crito and Socrates. Crito when he speaks of, disobeying when you believe something is unjust, and Socrates when his arguments point toward the desire to be identified as a martyr.

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