Reciprocity in behaviour

This blogpost will be an extrapolation of a great talk I had with my sister: If someone attacks you, is it okay to kill them? If so, when?

My opinion, in a nutshell, is this: The force I am exposed to is the one I am entitled to expose my assailant to. In essence: He wants to break my arm, I can break their arm. They want to punch my nose to the other side of my face, I can punch theirs to the same extent. They want to kill me, I can kill them.

Does this mean that I’m spoiling for a fight? For someone to take a stab at me so that I can satisfy my ever-lasting urge to take another human’s life? Fuck no. It just means that if someone were to pull a knife on me and there was no other way than to brawl, I could live with killing the assailant. Of course, I would give them anything they wanted (remember, money has zero value compared to your health), but if all has been given and a deadly weapon is still in the game, I will fight to survive.

This trail of thought may come easy to some, difficult to others, unimaginable to a few. For me, it’s simple: The attacker deemed my life to posess no value. I can, therefore, deem his life to be equally worthless in that situation. It will never be my goal to kill someone, but if it should so happen, by accident or bad luck, I can rationalize this.

Now let us make this concrete idea abstract and apply it to the way we think: Instead of killing, let us think of any other violation of personal freedom. As an example, imagine freedom of speech. The opposite of free speech is censorship (you may disagree, but that’s a rabbit hole I don’t want to get into). Given these circumstances, what can be done to a person calling for the curbing of free speech for another person or group?

That’s right! Their violation of another person’s freedom of speech is, at least for me, reason enough to violate their freedom of speech to the equal extent. Once you want someone silenced, you forfeit your own right to be heard freely.

Think about all the times you heard “Group XYZ shouldn’t have the right to speak in this place because I don’t agree with their position!” You may even agree with this person’s position, you may not like group XYZ’s position, but by calling for someone’s rights to be taken away means the right means nothing to you as well, so it may as well be taken from you!

A hint to end this short rant with: If you ever want to propose something, imagine how you would think in the shoes of the person you want to use your power against.

Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say. – Edward Snowden