Institutions that value dissent and auatonomy foster productive equilibrium.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Disloyalty. Modern UnDivine Comedy. Study in Punishments: Contrapasso, Sin, Travesty and Crime. Transgression as Temporary.

I.  Dante's Divine Comedy:  The Inferno Then and Now. 
The Modern UnDivine Comedy and, specifically, Disloyalty

Contrapasso.  How does a punishment fit the transgression.
Sin of Party or Local Betrayal;
What happens to the accuser?

Who goes to hell?  Is it appropriate to add an earthly punishment to that, for the believer? Can humans resist. The lesson of history and literature as to crime and punishment:  There are many "sins" best left to the sinner.  Punishment for some "sin" cannot be codified. See Dante's "The Divine Comedy" segment, The Inferno, as to consequences in this life. Let it go. Exercise restraint lest ye end up in a special place with the one you accuse, and, yes, both in hell and in a hellish relationship after this life. 

Overreachers on their own view of justice, beware.  Religious or secular, be careful of which transgressions you encode in law.  Some may be simply out of that realm. 

Contrapasso.  How does the punishment fit the transgression. Sin, Travesty, what to do. Nothing? Why not. We already let the fallen rise again, when it suits politically. Expand the idea. Simplify.

1.  Who goes to Hell?

There is wisdom in the Middle Ages. Who went to hell in the old days? Try this partial Dante list: Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321  Read his biography,  To us, it is a surprising series of sins to attach to people going to or in stages of hell. We may see human failings but no crime, thank you. Common, seedy, human behavior, summarized here, details below.
  • Drifters, parasites, ones who blow where the wind blows, so long as there is some advantage, or those, on the other hand, who commit to nothing;
  • Lust-driven
  • Flatterers; 
  • Trust-abusers;
  • Destabilizers, interferers with filial piety or other ordained respect relationship; 
  • Betrayers of party or local interest; and a related category:
  • Accusers of those believed to have betrayed others, but who then  go on to punish the betrayer of party or local interest.  They also end up in hell, but with the betrayer on top. Interesting.
See listing overview at   FN 1

2.  Modern times:  Can we learn?

The side issue in Dante is, for modern analysis, when to codify and make a crime; and when not. Do we properly sometimes let the moral transgressor go his way, left to his own future in Hell.

The particular sin:  Betrayal.  Itself worthy of hell, but worse off is the accuser who punishes the betrayer on earth. To forego taking vengeance for us probaby means that if there is no deity to inflict hell later, there is no consequence in the here and now as far as the outside is concerned. 

Nonetheless, some acts or omissions that are possibly "sins" cannot easily or properly morphed into legislation and earthly punishment. We do it anyway. Abortion. Left purposely out the the Canon, issue raised and discussed and excluded.  Not justiciable.  Given a few thousand years, however, and authorities cannot resist the opportunity to judge.

Codifying Crimes out of Sin. Is Travesty a more useful concept in a plural society than "sin."  Yes.
Travesty, a concept of the secular, is a way to find common ground among the pluralistic differing believing communities. 
  • Travesty is an idea stemming from some conscience, right and wrong idea -- even babes and toddlers show that sensibility. Travesty is known when it occurs better than by advance definition, a product of conscience and sensibility but incapable of codifying without further injustice resulting.  
Modern politics:  Absorbed with the idea that party and ideological betrayal must be punished. Punish party betrayal of loyalty, other loyalty, without examining facts for equity, reasons for mercy? Such an accuser ends up in hell.  The concept of equity, fairness and mercy, were already in motion in judicature in the middle ages, see

3.  Just who was the betrayer, and who the accuser, in Dante, where both end up in Hell -- in reverse positions there.

Dante.  He had ideas on sinners and hell, and how punishments should fit the crime, and whom to meet on the way to hell, at least in some of the Cantos of The Inferno.  Follow the theme of  contrapasso in levels of hell -- where the punishment befits the crime.  Meet some of the sinners in various categories of dysfunction.  Read the Inferno online at  Although only in Canto 28 does Dante use the term, according to this source that introduces us to contrapasso, see the concept recurs.  Do read the Contrapasso ethics site -- concise, interesting, and then read the whole Inferno.

The accuser punished the betrayer by locking him and his family in the Tower to starve (see story  at FN 1). The worldly punishments of exclusion, isolation, taint, and ultimate deprivation were imposed on the doer, and then generalized to any related to him. 
  • Yes! Says the modern party.  Hit the betrayers, those who vote other than as directed. Hit them in their lives.  Leave nothing to a deity in the future, as the deity may choose if there is, indeed, sin. 
  • But, in hell, the accusers themselves became the food of the accused whom they had starved. The accuser, starved on earth, merrily could feast upon the head of the accuser for all eternity in hell.
So: The betrayers of party and city loyalty, who were left to starve in the Tower along with their families, hold a special place in hell.  That place is special because it is inextricably tied to the hell afforded to the ones who accused them of the sin of refusing to put party first. Deprive this one of food as punishment, isolate and generalize to the whole group and yourself become food for the one you accused.

II.  Definitions.  Are these so?
A.  Sin:

A Theological Concept.  Morals. Acts or omissions against a revelation-related moral code. Evangelicals and the Right group-define sin in boxes, apply formulae, based on a believed Manumission Immaculata from the Deity.  Originally punishable by the deity in the deity's good time. Now subject to immediate corrective action by the definers, as individual vigilante or groupthink. If the deity appears to ignore sin or travesty in this life, then legislate some aspect of the act or omission into a Crime. Pre-emption of the deity. Firm lines are easy tro enforce, even if totally against the equities, see Travesty.

B.  Travesty:  Transgression. *

A more broadly inter-culturally inclusive and palatable form of sin-idea.  Secular Concept reflecting Moral-like ideas. The Left, for example, may recognize the presence of a travesty in assessments, but is highly skeptical of Group Defined Sin applied to it, as being instutionally or career-ly self-serving.

For example, abortion is not seen as a sin by many on the Left, such that people are permitted in its name to peep into wombs; but at some point, a balance shifts -- the inner little entity has rights ultimately to complete (through birth) what the hostess of the little parasite let grow for so long, except in cases of need to balance life of breathing mother (first) against life of still unaired entity.

Travesty -- in the face of travesty, balance interests, weigh circumstances, take deep breath, be gentle and apply reason, and let go if you yourself are not in the scope of that particular event. Breathers over non-breathers makes sense, unless the non-breather could breathe on the outside if allowed, and the life of the mother etc etc. Travesty gets messy. Equity as a remedy is like that, see Equity.  Fairness. Balance.  You know it when you see it.  Coded punishments need not apply.

C.  Crime:

A Cultural Concept. An area for codification of prohibited behaviors and punishments. Acts or omissions capable of being fixed and described by a secular entity, quantifiable, as against the interests of society, punishable by judicial process.

See overlap with sin, however, where an act is not only against some specific law, but also believed to be received authority, revelation and indisputably inspiration-related.  In such case, anti-sin vigilantes or lone wolves may be found to put self uber alles.  See, for example, false witness. Sin, but free speech allows it all the time, no crime except if a person is under Oath.

D.  Application.

Dante.  Contrapasso.  How does the punishment in the hereafter fit the sin? The travesty?  When the sinner is also punished in life by the accuser, is the punisher also in hell? See * ditty.

This is the most interesting part. Yes. The sin may be a sin, the travesty or transgression indeed such, but the accusers also go to hell, and in a way that gives the original sinner the last figurative laugh.

Focus on sin:  Dysfunctional. It serves as a distractor from the "giving" that is the essence of our western religions, supposedly. See

Immigration:  What sin? A codified transgression?  Crossing a border when a porous border was condoned and profited from for decades?  Immigrants want to know.  The incarcerated.  Does the codification reflect fairness, mercy, context, condoning again, exploitation? The incarcerated for small matters also want to know.

Pragmatism on sin: Noone should be forever defined by his episodic humanity.

*   Transgressor Ditty --
Thanks to Whiskers on Kittens

Taintings on Public Lives,
Weiner and Garcia.
Clinton, and Sanford,
Self-sabotage idea.
Off-the-cuff comments, behavioral trash --
Secret deceptions, ill-will from the cache.

When displayed,
Fear not. Wait.
Say you are sorry.
The Public likes spectacles,
They'll forget. Don't hurry.
When the press bites,
And the lackey stings,
When you're feeling had,
Simply remember you can re-up and then
Do unto others.
Life is zen.

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