Victim Culture

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  • And to show the point here is a recent case where a buyer bought a stolen car and... ended up with nothing.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    And to show the point here is a recent case where a buyer bought a stolen car and... ended up with nothing.

    Usually the case. I'm vaguely remembering my basic law course from around 1988. The transaction was fraudulant because the items were not actually available for legitimate sale, but recovery is usually impossible.
  • Meant to add - there is all the difference in the world between having a good claim and having any prospect of successfully persuing it.
  • Example here https://www.theguardian.com/money/2002/apr/16/consumernews.consumeraffairs - it's confirmed the shop could be taken to the Small Claims court
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    And to show the point here is a recent case where a buyer bought a stolen car and... ended up with nothing.

    Do you think that is just ?

  • Russ wrote: »
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    And to show the point here is a recent case where a buyer bought a stolen car and... ended up with nothing.

    Do you think that is just ?

    You should probably be more specific. What do you mean by "that"? Stealing someone else's property, selling someone else's property, or keeping someone else's stolen property?
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Dafyd: The right to fulfillment of the thief's promise is a right against the thief who made the promise only.

    Yes. That is who the innocent purchaser has a claim against if possession of the watch is restored to the original owner.

    And that is who the original owner has a claim against if possession of the watch remains with the innocent purchaser.

    Both want to possess the watch in satisfaction of their own claim, leaving the other to pursue a claim against the thief.

    Where is justice in that ?

    I'm not arguing that the innocent purchaser has something more than a claim against the thief. I'm doubting whether the original owner has something more than a claim against the thief.

    If the watch turns out to have been damaged beyond repair by the time the original owner locates it, he has a debt-claim against the thief for the value of the watch.

    If the watch is seen as a tradable commodity, a barter-good, as being in effect a form of money, the original owner has a debt-claim against the thief for the value of the watch.

    If he has more than such a debt-claim, in the particular case where the watch is still-functioning and not seen as barter-currency, where does it come from ? What's the argument ?


  • Having recently been the victim (oops, sorry, bad word) of a home burglary, my primary thought right now is "It's my fucking watch."

    Seriously, though, Person One was robbed of a watch. Person Two was defrauded of money. Any resolution that doesn't result in Person One getting their watch back or being compensated for the loss seems to me unjust. The subsequent fraud is a separate crime and does not change the ownership of the watch. In my opinion. Because it's my fucking watch. It's always been my watch and always will be, no matter how many hands it passes through.



  • I did a bit of digging on this issue and as I understand it, the law (in Canada, at least*) seems to favour the original owner if the property was physically stolen, but an innocent good faith purchaser (aka bona fide purchaser for value) if the original deprivation occurred by way of a fraudulent contract.

    (*but also in the older UK contract law cases I was looking at)

    So curiously the result seems to depend on whether contract law or property law governs -- if someone physically steals your watch, it's still yours in law as against an innocent subsequent purchaser, but if someone gets you to part with it by fraudulent means, you may be out of luck if it then gets sold to an innocent third party.

    This may seem hopelessly tangential but I think the bigger issue is whether private law contract or property (etc.) concepts are really all that helpful for analyzing multi-generational societal-level injustice problems. Private law concepts can have a deceptive appearance of simplicity and then turn out not to be that simple in application even to relatively straightforward sets of facts.
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    edited September 2018
    Russ wrote: »
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    And to show the point here is a recent case where a buyer bought a stolen car and... ended up with nothing.

    Do you think that is just ?

    The "innocent" buyer loses out. OK, on the face of it that seems a bit unfair - but then it is tough to construct a system on any other basis.

    Let's say there are three parties; the owner, the thief and the buyer.

    Let's assume it turns out that the stolen property is undeniably that which was stolen.

    So what's a fair outcome where the buyer doesn't lose out? Well he could be compensated by the owner. But then the owner has to pay to get his own property back - which is more-or-less extortion.

    Or the thief could compensate the buyer - but that raises all kinds of other problems. Where has the thief got the money from - it could be profits of other crime.

    Or it could come down to third party insurance - which would put additional costs onto premiums. Or it could be government compensation.

    Or it could just be about telling buyers that they have no rights to purchase stolen property, and if they don't do the minimum checks as to ownership before they buy, then they stand to lose everything.

    For most practical purposes, the latter is the simplest option and the other options are not more just.
  • Marsupial wrote: »
    I did a bit of digging on this issue and as I understand it, the law (in Canada, at least*) seems to favour the original owner if the property was physically stolen, but an innocent good faith purchaser (aka bona fide purchaser for value) if the original deprivation occurred by way of a fraudulent contract.

    (*but also in the older UK contract law cases I was looking at)

    So curiously the result seems to depend on whether contract law or property law governs -- if someone physically steals your watch, it's still yours in law as against an innocent subsequent purchaser, but if someone gets you to part with it by fraudulent means, you may be out of luck if it then gets sold to an innocent third party.

    This may seem hopelessly tangential but I think the bigger issue is whether private law contract or property (etc.) concepts are really all that helpful for analyzing multi-generational societal-level injustice problems. Private law concepts can have a deceptive appearance of simplicity and then turn out not to be that simple in application even to relatively straightforward sets of facts.

    I agree with your latter paragraph, but I think there are contracts and contracts. I think it is pretty much a universal that there is a contract between any buyer and any seller.

    It's a fairly simple contract when it is about exchange and provision of goods, much more complex when it is other things.

    But I also agree - this doesn't really help with the question of reparations for slavery unless we are somehow getting into the territory that says this is about ownership rights. Of slaves and their descendents into perpetuity.
  • I mean, even if it was about selling stolen goods;

    Someone is captured in Africa and sold into slavery. Nobody is going to argue that this is anything but theft, are they?

    Then any subsequent transaction based on that initial theft is null and void. Any subsequent discrimination based on that initial theft is to be added as an additional crime. Any ongoing poverty caused by that long ago incident is a compounding effect.

    If there was any justice in the world at all, the person on the receiving end of having an ancestor having their life stolen from them - and all the consequences - would be able to claim restitution.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    If there was any justice in the world at all, the person on the receiving end of having an ancestor having their life stolen from them - and all the consequences - would be able to claim restitution.

    If the Romans enslaved my ancestor back in the second or third century, do you think I should have the right to claim restitution?

    If not, what's the difference?
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    If there was any justice in the world at all, the person on the receiving end of having an ancestor having their life stolen from them - and all the consequences - would be able to claim restitution.

    If the Romans enslaved my ancestor back in the second or third century, do you think I should have the right to claim restitution?

    If not, what's the difference?

    Are you still suffering the effects of Roman enslavement?
  • @Marvin the Martian - no. because the Roman Empire fell in 476 CE and any enslavement or influence has had 1700 years to dissipate. Unlike the continuing influence of white domination over black culture in those previously slave owning nations. If endemic racism was not ongoing, then maybe things would be different, but that's not the case.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    Are you still suffering the effects of Roman enslavement?

    OK, good. So it's actually about whether a person now is suffering from the effects of a historical wrong, rather than being about restitution for the historical wrong itself.

    And presumably "my ancestor would have earned this much had they been paid for their work" doesn't count as an effect that can be suffered, or it would continue to pass down the generations regardless of how rich or poor those generations happened to become.

    Is this going to boil down to a claim that the negative effects of racism in today's society have slavery as their root cause? Because I'm not sure I agree with that - I think slavery itself was a consequence of racism rather than a cause thereof.
  • I think racism was part of the justification of slavery. If you can categorise people as lesser you can justify slavery. But that racism is still enabling lesser treatment of people.
  • If endemic racism was not ongoing, then maybe things would be different, but that's not the case.

    Then the problem is endemic racism, not slavery. End the former and there won't be any need to make restitution for the latter.
  • You'd still have to provide some form of restitution for the difficulties caused by that endemic racism. That endemic racism is not consequence free.
  • You'd still have to provide some form of restitution for the difficulties caused by that endemic racism. That endemic racism is not consequence free.

    Sure. But that would be compensation for genuine difficulties suffered by the people being compensated, rather than compensation given to everyone of a certain race regardless of their personal circumstances because they happen to share a skin tone with someone who suffered hundreds of years ago.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    Are you still suffering the effects of Roman enslavement?

    OK, good. So it's actually about whether a person now is suffering from the effects of a historical wrong, rather than being about restitution for the historical wrong itself.

    And presumably "my ancestor would have earned this much had they been paid for their work" doesn't count as an effect that can be suffered, or it would continue to pass down the generations regardless of how rich or poor those generations happened to become.

    Is this going to boil down to a claim that the negative effects of racism in today's society have slavery as their root cause? Because I'm not sure I agree with that - I think slavery itself was a consequence of racism rather than a cause thereof.

    Well y'see, I think that Roman slavery was bad - but I think it is really difficult to pick apart the long-term impacts of it.

    That's quite different to the slavery experienced by black people - for one thing it is much more recent, for another the impacts of it are much more obvious and direct.

    Some people are literally in the shit because of the cascading impacts of an ancestor being enslaved and the ongoing racism that was a part and package thereof.

    Talking about the Romans is really nothing at all to do with it.
  • If endemic racism was not ongoing, then maybe things would be different, but that's not the case.

    Then the problem is endemic racism, not slavery. End the former and there won't be any need to make restitution for the latter.

    How are you going to end the racism without addressing the slavery?

    You keep saying this stuff but never actually say how you are going to do it.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    How are you going to end the racism without addressing the slavery?

    I genuinely don't understand the question.

    To me, racism is about how people treat each other. Ending racism means using education and the law to ensure a situation where everyone treats everyone equally, whether it be in schooling, in employment, in law enforcement or in any of the other areas in which people interact.

    And equally, that's something I think we need to work towards regardless of history - because it's good in and of itself. The way some of this is being phrased by some people, it's as if social inequality due to race wouldn't be a problem if slavery wasn't a part of our history.

    To take just one example, the amount of innocent black people who get killed by police in America is a scandal and a sin that needs to end. But that would be the case even if slavery had never happened - historical slavery is irrelevant to the problem except as part of an academic "this is how we got here" study. But to me it doesn't matter how we got here - what matters is how we get away from here.
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    edited September 2018
    Some black people are living shitty lives directpy because of a legacy of slavery. No amount of anti-racism education is going to give them proper housing, decent schools and, in some cases, sanitation.
  • But to me it doesn't matter how we got here - what matters is how we get away from here.

    Says the person who never had to experience the legacy of slavery.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    edited September 2018
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    Russ wrote: »
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    And to show the point here is a recent case where a buyer bought a stolen car and... ended up with nothing.

    Do you think that is just ?
    The "innocent" buyer loses out. OK, on the face of it that seems a bit unfair - but then it is tough to construct a system on any other basis.

    The interesting point to me is that Russ has changed his mind about his earlier position and is now arguing that two wrongs do, in fact, make a right. A theft is wrong and selling goods to which you have no legitimate ownership claim is wrong, but if you combine the two you've somehow created a legitimate right to ownership. Not only does the new "owner" have a right to his new property, but his possession of such property is right. So I guess linguistically two wrongs make two rights, at least according to @Russ.
    If the Romans enslaved my ancestor back in the second or third century, do you think I should have the right to claim restitution?

    If not, what's the difference?

    For starters there's no current political entity that claims to be the successor of the Roman Empire. This is different from the United States, which claims to be the same entity that enforced the fugitive slave law, regulated the slave trade as interstate commerce, and fought a war of conquest to expand the reach of slavery, as I noted previously. The individual states which convicted black men on trumped up charges and then auctioned off their labor still exist, as do many of the purchasers of such slave labor. After all, the 1940s weren't that long ago. A lot of the roads and infrastructure built with this stolen labor are still in use today.
  • In fairness, I ought to say that I believe there are many things that my life is built upon that were gained because of oppression, slavery and exploitation. If someone was to come and say that I wasn't entitled to these things and cast me into poverty as a result I'm not sure I would have a leg to stand on. I can't justify my own existence.

    The only reason I can continue in the life that I'm accustomed is because the legal system is so tilted in my favour that those for whom my lifestyle is enslavement have zero chance of ever holding people like me to account.

    Judgement Day is going to be uncomfortable.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    Some black people are living shitty lives directpy because of a legacy of slavery. No amount of anti-racism education is going to give them proper housing, decent schools and, in some cases, sanitation.

    Which is why I also mentioned the law. Minimum housing and schooling standards, for example.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    But to me it doesn't matter how we got here - what matters is how we get away from here.

    Says the person who never had to experience the legacy of slavery.

    Oh yes, silly me for trying to focus on how we put right the wrongs of society rather than dwelling on how those wrongs came about.

    What do you think we should be doing?
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    Some black people are living shitty lives directpy because of a legacy of slavery. No amount of anti-racism education is going to give them proper housing, decent schools and, in some cases, sanitation.

    Which is why I also mentioned the law. Minimum housing and schooling standards, for example.

    But some black people legally have bad schooling and poor sanitation.

    It's not about the law as much as an American system that couldn't care less about a proportion of its people, the majority of whom are people of colour.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    But to me it doesn't matter how we got here - what matters is how we get away from here.

    Says the person who never had to experience the legacy of slavery.

    Oh yes, silly me for trying to focus on how we put right the wrongs of society rather than dwelling on how those wrongs came about.

    What do you think we should be doing?

    I think we should listen to people who are living the shitty lives and who consistently say that the root of it is their tragic family history of slavery.

    Why do you discount this narrative?
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    Some black people are living shitty lives directpy because of a legacy of slavery. No amount of anti-racism education is going to give them proper housing, decent schools and, in some cases, sanitation.

    Which is why I also mentioned the law. Minimum housing and schooling standards, for example.

    But some black people legally have bad schooling and poor sanitation.

    Laws can be changed. Usually when people say "use the law to ensure a better outcome" the "by changing what the law is" part is assumed, but if I have to spell it out then so be it.
    It's not about the law as much as an American system that couldn't care less about a proportion of its people, the majority of whom are people of colour.

    If it's about the system then it absolutely is about the law. One great thing about the law is that whether you love someone or hate them you still have to treat them the way the law says.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    But to me it doesn't matter how we got here - what matters is how we get away from here.

    Says the person who never had to experience the legacy of slavery.

    Oh yes, silly me for trying to focus on how we put right the wrongs of society rather than dwelling on how those wrongs came about.

    What do you think we should be doing?

    I think we should listen to people who are living the shitty lives and who consistently say that the root of it is their tragic family history of slavery.

    That is such a perfect "chattering classes" answer that it should probably be framed and exhibited somewhere. All sympathy and feeling and "oh, isn't it awful", but absolutely no practical solutions whatsoever.

    If someone has a broken leg then setting up a focus group to ensure that their account of the narrative of the pain they're feeling is being heard and understood isn't actually going to help them very much. You know what would help them? Fixing the fucking leg.

    Well, society has a broken leg right now - racism. You can nod sympathetically along to various earnest accounts of how painful it is and how it's stopping society from moving forwards all you want, but personally I'm going to be supporting those who actually want to try to set the bone and get the patient walking again.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    Some black people are living shitty lives directpy because of a legacy of slavery. No amount of anti-racism education is going to give them proper housing, decent schools and, in some cases, sanitation.

    Which is why I also mentioned the law. Minimum housing and schooling standards, for example.

    But some black people legally have bad schooling and poor sanitation.

    Laws can be changed. Usually when people say "use the law to ensure a better outcome" the "by changing what the law is" part is assumed, but if I have to spell it out then so be it.
    It's not about the law as much as an American system that couldn't care less about a proportion of its people, the majority of whom are people of colour.

    If it's about the system then it absolutely is about the law. One great thing about the law is that whether you love someone or hate them you still have to treat them the way the law says.

    FFS. It's a system of law that unilaterally and consistently discounts black people. It doesn't matter how educated they are or what qualifications they get, they never get to change the basic reality of the law, that black people don't matter.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    But to me it doesn't matter how we got here - what matters is how we get away from here.

    Says the person who never had to experience the legacy of slavery.

    Oh yes, silly me for trying to focus on how we put right the wrongs of society rather than dwelling on how those wrongs came about.

    What do you think we should be doing?

    I think we should listen to people who are living the shitty lives and who consistently say that the root of it is their tragic family history of slavery.

    That is such a perfect "chattering classes" answer that it should probably be framed and exhibited somewhere. All sympathy and feeling and "oh, isn't it awful", but absolutely no practical solutions whatsoever.

    Yeah, let's just sweep aside all those black thinkers and philosophers and academics - because, fuck, they're not providing any solutions by constantly banging on about how black people in America constantly get the shitty end of the stick are they?

    Let's just minimise them. Shout over them. Talk as if the only voice that matters is the white one. Reduce the narrative to being a voice if the chattering classes.

    Have you listened to yourself recently? Have you ever taken the time to listen to how black people - intelligent, educated black people - understand the experience of being a black American?

    I doubt it.
    If someone has a broken leg then setting up a focus group to ensure that their account of the narrative of the pain they're feeling is being heard and understood isn't actually going to help them very much. You know what would help them? Fixing the fucking leg.

    If there is a dark lane that people are consistently getting mugged when they walk down causing broken legs, do you know what would help rather than just fixing the broken legs?

    How about asking why there are no fucking street lights that work?
    Well, society has a broken leg right now - racism. You can nod sympathetically along to various earnest accounts of how painful it is and how it's stopping society from moving forwards all you want, but personally I'm going to be supporting those who actually want to try to set the bone and get the patient walking again.

    Yeah, and you accuse others of being the "chattering classes". FFS man.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    FFS. It's a system of law that unilaterally and consistently discounts black people. It doesn't matter how educated they are or what qualifications they get, they never get to change the basic reality of the law, that black people don't matter.

    Which law is that, then? Is it a Federal statute, or something passed by the various States?
  • Sweet Jesus give me strength.

    Read my lips: it's the System of Law. Based on a Constitution that was deeply racist and a history of decisions that diminished black people to being Second Class.

    It's not about "a law" because the problem is systematic, not about a specific individual law.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    That is such a perfect "chattering classes" answer that it should probably be framed and exhibited somewhere. All sympathy and feeling and "oh, isn't it awful", but absolutely no practical solutions whatsoever.

    Yeah, let's just sweep aside all those black thinkers and philosophers and academics - because, fuck, they're not providing any solutions by constantly banging on about how black people in America constantly get the shitty end of the stick are they?

    Let's just minimise them. Shout over them. Talk as if the only voice that matters is the white one. Reduce the narrative to being a voice if the chattering classes.

    I seriously doubt that if any of them were asked what they think society should do to fix the problem of racism they would answer "listen to us" and nothing more, the way you just did. In fact, most of the ones I've read have had some very firm ideas about things that need to be changed.
    If there is a dark lane that people are consistently getting mugged when they walk down causing broken legs, do you know what would help rather than just fixing the broken legs?

    How about asking why there are no fucking street lights that work?

    Or better still, how about actually installing working street lights? Or spending more on policing so that the muggers are caught? Or both?

    You can sit in a committee and ask why the street lights don't work all bloody day if you want, but none of that hot air is going to change a single fucking thing. Meanwhile, one workman with a bag of spare bulbs and a ladder could resolve the situation in half an hour.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    It's not about "a law" because the problem is systematic, not about a specific individual law.

    Then the system needs to be changed. How are we going to do it?
  • Really. What if there is no power. What if there is no money to pay for the work. What if any other millions of small things that means black communities lose out.

    The fact that death row is overwhelmingly black and that the prison population is disproportionately black is not because nobody in the black community thought about how to change a few lightbulbs.

  • edited September 2018
    Reparations are one thing, they convert injustices and suffering into money. Reparations are not necessarily restorative. Reconciliation is another thing. A process whereby one group or one person learns the effects and and of the lived history/experience of others/another.

    There are some museums that do a cursory and very circumscribed version of this, like Holocaust museums, refugee museums, slavery museums. Do they connect us with current problems? Mostly I don't think so. And the people who attend these then leave the building and the visit fades from memory and its effects lessen. If you're interested, have a look at info on The Blanket Exercise, which experientially teaches about Canada's history with indigenous people. Next steps after this re reconciliation with indigenous peoples include exercises to understand the seizing of children for placement in residential schools, cutting their hair, dressing them as Europeans, punishing them for speaking indigenous languages, and educating them to resemseble Christian Europeans. And tracing the history of other children apprehended (in essence arrested) from their parents and communities and given to European families for adoption. Then tracing further, to the ongoing suppression of cultural expression, economic disadvantaging. The curricula in schools here has mandatory indigenous studies now, and some universities are progressively requiring it for all degrees. It's a progressive de-centering European culture and history, and having it share with indigenous.
  • Fact-based observations based in the reality of human behavior:
    https://youtu.be/g6IJV_0p64s
  • Your link doesn't work for me.
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    The views of a guy from the Hoover Institution who likes supply side economics and Rush Limbaugh? Thank you, no.
  • Russ wrote: »
    If he has more than such a debt-claim, in the particular case where the watch is still-functioning and not seen as barter-currency, where does it come from ?
    From the fact that it's his watch.
    You're not normally so cavalier about property rights.
    I had felt that your characterisation of victim culture was a caricature of any serious position. But I can't see any reason for you to repeatedly ignore this simple point, unless you really adhere to victim culture yourself, and you think that the victim-status of your favoured victim, the 'purchaser', really does overrule the objective rights of the other parties.
    I don't see any reason for you to favour the 'purchaser' except that the purchaser is currently enjoying possession.
  • There's a lot of talk of contract law here but I'm not sure it's relevant.

    The "vendor" (note quotes) has no rights to the property s/he is selling. The rightful owner has been deprived of their property, while the "buyer" has lost the purchase price.

    My view, and IANAL, is that because the vendor had no rights to the property, s/he could not enter into a contract. The "buyer" may IMHO have a claim for damages under the law of torts (says he, going back to Principles of the English Legal System) although if said vendor has no means, he may as well whistle.
  • What is the point to this argument?
    There's an old argument about what justice should be pursued by society. On one side, the argument is that society should pursue distributive justice, that is seek institutions such that goods and liberties are justly distributed across society. (This doesn't mean that there's only one answer to the question: there are Rawlsian and utilitarian answers, among others.)
    On the other side, there's a libertarian view (most associated with Robert Nozick) the only justice that should be pursued is justice in transactions. Any distribution of property is just if each individual transaction that reached it was just. So long as no transaction takes place as a result of force or fraud, the result is just no matter how unequal.
    The problem with the Nozick view is that every current property right that we know of as far as we know originates eventually in some act of violent appropriation. So the Nozick view needs to find some way to launder property rights off unjustly acquired property. Russ wants to launder the rights by saying they're laundered when property is sold on to an innocent or unwitting purchaser. (Or presumably when the property is inherited, but he's got even less of a case there.) But the theoretical price he has to pay is that his system makes no room for property rights at all - therefore sabotaging the basic assumptions of the libertarian view.

    I suppose a challenge for the distributive justice view is whether it has any room for the claim that present inequalities cannot be fixed without taking on board the role of past injustices, which is I suppose the point at issue over reparations for slavery.
  • Dafyd wrote: »
    I suppose a challenge for the distributive justice view is whether it has any room for the claim that present inequalities cannot be fixed without taking on board the role of past injustices.

    It has far bigger challenges than that. Such as the way it doesn't satisfactorily define what "justly distributed" means, or how, even if such a state could be achieved, it will be maintained beyond the first private transaction that occurs.
  • Dafyd wrote: »
    On the other side, there's a libertarian view (most associated with Robert Nozick) the only justice that should be pursued is justice in transactions. Any distribution of property is just if each individual transaction that reached it was just. So long as no transaction takes place as a result of force or fraud, the result is just no matter how unequal.

    This is summarized in the Desert Island Economics installment of Existential Comics.
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