Distributed Fault

One of the things humans seem to love to do is oversimplify problems, fail to identify the root cause, blame a individual, and then punish them and feel good about how they’ve solved the problem. (Hint: They haven’t. They’ve made it worse)

One of the places I see this the most often is the criminal justice system. In the case of the black folk, we have perpetrated a whole bunch of brokenness (slavery, jim crow limiting access to education, and so forth) and then we blame them for being broken after we broke them, and we lock them up with a bunch of other broken people so they can all entrain on each other’s brokenness, and then we’re shocked when there’s a huge recidivism rate.

I agree in general with the people saying defund the police – I’d say let’s also defund the military, because they’ve thugged around in other parts of the world doing massive amounts of damage to humanity as a whole. What we need to do with the funds, though, is figure out where things are really broken and what we can do about it.

In general very few things are one individual’s “fault”. It’s a common failure of abrahamic religions that they paint the idea that we all have ultimate free will and we deserve torture or reward based on our behavior, but the truth is most people do not have a lot of free will as having a lot of free will turns out to be a *lot* of work. It’s the nature of our minds that we are the product of our environment and the box of options we can see open to us is generally fairly small. We tend to build decision trees based on past experiences of what worked and then anneal them until they are very nearly unchangable – witness all the staunch right-wing constitutionalists defending Trump as he shreds the constitution to enrich himself. (Of course it’s not exactly Trump’s fault either, as he is also a product of the life he’s led – he’s broken because his environment led him to be broken)

One can always wonder what would have happened if someone had bought hitler’s art.. and in general I think we should fund artists *regardless* of whether we think they’re any good or not because A: you have to start out bad and get good and B: we have *enough* to feed and house everybody – it’s just the bosses love enslaving folks and so they get off on having us all live in fear. And they are likewise probably the product of a broken culture that *they* grew up in.

Anyway, my basic point is, almost nothing is one person’s fault, and punishment is moronic. Consequences in order to provide negative training are a good idea – we don’t want to have *no* negative results. If you doubt this, try to teach a dog not to bark using only positive reinforcement and you will discover that positive reinforcement has some problems when trying to teach to *not* do something. However, those consequences should be designed to be just enough that the lesson is learned – punish someone out of proportion to their crime and you’ve actually broken their mind worse and justifiably built a desire for revenge into them. It’s true that there are some people who don’t think this way but it still doesn’t make sense to have punishments that are completely out of scale for the crime. (For example, steal $100, spend 10 years in jail, steal $100,000,000, get told what a good capitalist you are)

I do feel like I need to explore the idea of distributed fault that is a probability curve surrounding events more, because I am a product of my culture and I do often fall for the easy trap of simply blaming the most obvious source of the problem. And it’s undoubtedly true that even after we’ve managed to remove Trump and Mitch, the bugs in our culture that enabled them to get so much power and abuse it so thoroughly will still be there. We probably need a constitutional convention, but the bosses like that they can have the police beat us into submission and are not likely to go for having one.

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