Yesterday someone broke into my house and stole my iMac, some laptops, cash, an X box and a few other things.
Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.
I’m not concerned about the loss… but yeah… I’m not really feeling this scripture (Tim, please tell me this one is part of an irrelevant dispensation 🙂 )
A christian friend said hearing about the theft made him angry – I don’t want to be angry. How should I, or any Christian, react to being robbed?
On a personal level I’m unsure of how to react but on a political level I find things much more straight forward – when a person steals another person’s property the thief should have to repay the victim the value of the stolen goods plus a penalty proportionate to the value of the stolen goods.
People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving.
Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house.
It’s often said that criminals have a debt to society but this is incorrect – criminals have a debt to their victims and when possible penalties should be given with the aim of restoring victims. When restitution is not possible then even selling a person into slavery is justified.
Whoever steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.
If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed.
Anyone who steals must certainly make restitution, but if they have nothing, they must be sold to pay for their theft. If the stolen animal is found alive in their possession—whether ox or donkey or sheep—they must pay back double.
I hope this post provokes a robust discussion. Unfortunately I may be limited to making follow up comments using my smartphone. 🙂
10 thoughts on “Dealing with thieves”
Sorry to hear about your property loss. Property is as personal in nature as your own body – it provides you with utility or “usefulness” for living.
>>”It’s often said that criminals have a debt to society but this is incorrect – criminals have a debt to their victims and when possible penalties should be given with the aim of restoring victims. When restitution is not possible then even selling a person into slavery is justified.”
The debt criminals own to society is the cost society bears to keep them and people like them and thus crime out of society. Certainly they also owe the victim for restitution also in so far as a victim suffers quantifiable loss. But loss from crime, at least when it comes to property, can be mitigated and possibly even eliminated by taking out insurance. Slavery is not an objective form of justice. The primary purpose of justice is to protect rights by removing the criminal from society, which is one and at the same time the criminal’s punishment. This requires that the criminal is kept locked up. Keeping a criminal locked up and making them a slave for the purpose of restituting the victim are, I submit, mutually exclusive aims.
You accept imprisonment as punishment.
Can you accept forced labour as punishment?
Insurance doesn’t mitigate losses. I spend $1000 on content insurance every year.
>>”You accept imprisonment as punishment.
Can you accept forced labour as punishment?”
Reed, yes, I can, but only if it 1) provides non-commercial utility, and 2) does not increase the risk or cost to society, which must be the primary concern with incarceration. How would you propose making 1) and 2) are compatible?
>>”Insurance doesn’t mitigate losses. I spend $1000 on content insurance every year.”
It may not mitigate loss on a macro scale (loss is loss, after all) or in all events, but it does mitigate loss at a personal level *in general*, otherwise there would not be an insurance industry. I am referring to personal mitigation.
We all wrong others at some point. But when we do we don’t end up owing society – just the people we wronged.
It’s commonly said that criminals have paid their debt to society after they serve their time in prison. You seem to be saying that a prisoner accrues a debt to society by being imprisoned. Neither of these perspectives make sense to me.
Are you a “social contract” guy? I thought you were an objectivist.
By the same rationale alcohol/drug users would owe a debt to society wouldn’t they?
If society (taxpayers) end up paying for a criminal’s incarceration in order to secure their own safety because of that criminal’s behavior, are they not wronged also by that criminal’s crime? This is not about social contract theory, even if the government were 100% voluntarily funded, people would still be required to pay in. Are they not in some way victims then too by criminal action?
I don’t see the connection to alcohol and drug users.
Woah. That sounds like collectivist claptrap to me, Terry. I thought you were an Objectivist?! 🙂
Modern collectivists see society as a super-organism, as some supernatural entity apart from and superior to the sum of its individual members.
Contradiction, Terry. Keep ’em coming. 🙂
“Society is a large number of men who live together in the same country, and who deal with one another.” – Ayn Rand
If a criminal owes a debt to society because ‘society’ is required to pay for his incarceration for their own safety, it simply means that the criminal owes a large number of men who live together in the same country, and who deal with one another, a that debt, since they are the one’s paying via their government taxes/fees, each in proportion to their contribution.
“if the government were 100% voluntarily funded, people would still be required to pay in” is not a contradiction if you use the correct definition for ‘require’, in the sense of ‘needed for a particular purpose’. This does not imply a forced payment, except to the extent that the criminal is forcing people to pay for their own protection from his immoral actions.