I was reading a post about a potential error in a capital case, when someone brought up the George Bernard Shaw quote:
It is the deed that teaches, not the name we give it. Murder and capital punishment are not opposites that cancel one another, but similars that breed their own kind.
As usual with leftist cant, it sounds good but falls apart once one thinks about it in general and not just in the specific case (yet another example of the particularist vs. meta dichotomy). If Shaw is right, then does the State locking people in prison teach kidnapping? Does not the collection of taxes by the State teach extortion? What’s the difference?
On the other hand, if you think the citizenry is smart enough to understand context and to realize that there is a vast gulf between acts done through societally agreed mechanisms and acts done by individuals flouting those mechanism, then it’s easy to distinguish. Why, if that viewpoint were common enough you’d think there would be a word to express the appropriation of societal authority by individuals. Oh, wait, isn’t that “vigilantism”? Doesn’t Shaw’s claim require that no one understands the meaning of that word? But, of course, his statement is meant to feel good, not think good.