The Last Viking, (02/1995)
Damaged Justice, (05/1995).
[Disclaimer: I (Damaged Justice) hardly ever read
alt.shenanigans is more to my
taste. I happened across the original version of this "Ethics Code" on the
Web, and was inspired to revise it as follows.]
One cannot say that revenge is mean or cruel, just as one cannot say that one
who engages in it is a bad person. Revenge is merely one person's idea of
"justice", and therefore it is always "justifiable", if only to the person
performing it, who is retaliating for a wrong they believe has been done to
them. Absent evidence to the contrary, or inappropriate use of force by them,
there are few people who have a moral leg to stand on; if you've never felt
the urge to avenge a wrong done to you or someone you care for, you've led
a rather shallow life.
So how do we determine what level of force is appropriate? One may look at an
act of vengeance and say that the magnitude of the revenge is unjustified,
but this will always be determined by your particular idea of what would be
appropriate. Traditionally, from ancient Iceland to feudal times and even
today, the avenger takes matters personally in hand and fights back at the
one that has done him wrong. It's a justice system where the avenger
functions as judge, jury and executioner. There are no "disinterested third
parties"; merely one who has done wrong, and one who retaliates. (I've
included the possibility of avenging a wrong done to someone you care for,
which can motivate you to strike back even more than if you were the victim.)
In any event, the avenger should the one that "really knows what has been
going on", and is therefore justified in his actions.
Looking at the justice system in most countries of today reveals many holes,
which occasionally happen to protect the one who has done wrong as well as
the one who would seek vengeance. Attempting to strike back through these
established government monopoly channels is generally of little use and just
as dangerous to you as to your target, especially in certain cases. Perhaps
the matter is considered too small or unimportant for the court to take
notice of (e.g., a salesperson is incredibly, offensively rude to you); or
the legal system is explicitly set up so as to protect the target (e.g., when
the target enjoys special immunity from liability, as in the case of the
American nuclear power industry); or there is insufficient proof (your word
against theirs); or the matter is intensely personal (such as a trusted
friend betraying you in a way which is more detrimental to your state of mind
than your immediate physical health or safety).
Thinking up a plan or scheme is only half of revenge; actually doing it is
another thing. In some cases, fantasizing, joking with friends or producing
fictional accounts of one's plans may be catharsis enough. But if you truly
intend on following through, you need to justify your actions...to yourself!
What consequences will befall the target? More importantly, what will happen
to you? (Even if you pull it off beautifully, it won't be very satisfying if
you end up in jail or dead.) Will the scheme improve the overall situation?
Will the target's wrongdoings change or cease? Or do you just want to make
them suffer? Or do you want to make an example out of them?
You can think of revenge as being of four different severity levels:
Levels 1 and 2 are the most commonly used. If you are considering level 3 or
4, you should think long and hard about why you are doing it, what you hope
to gain from it, and if the price you might pay will be worth it.
There is usually always some discussion on alt.revenge about revenge on
animals, trees or other such non-human entities. If you look in The Avenger's
Handbook, you will find few or no such schemes, because as humans, we cannot
hold inanimate objects, or even animals, for their actions. A dog's natural
instinct is to bark, and the instinct may be suppressed if the owner knows
how to train and treat the dog, but if the owner is clueless the dog will
continue to bark. In this case, the owner is your target, because he is the
one responsible for not properly taking care of the animal. Before you
consider a scheme of this nature, look at animals as you would look on small
children. You don't give poison to a child if it cries.
Possibly the most important aspect to consider is what might happen to you.
Many revenge schemes are conceived in the heat of the moment, or executed
blindly in a fit of rage. When the pain of your wounds is fresh, you are more
likely to misjudge the appropriateness of your retaliation. You are in no
shape to think at a time like this. Despite the momentary pain it may cause,
try to let the storm pass. Realize that someone who has wronged you this
deeply is not worth your throwing your life in the garbage. If you can relax,
you will be more capable of accurately assessing your situation. You may come
up with a less extreme scheme, but equally as good. You can wait weeks,
months and even years, getting your life back into shape and taking the time
to plan it right. Then, you can strike when the target least expects it.
Some mention must be made of the never-ending battle scenario, where someone
strikes back at you because he discovers that you struck back at him, usually
with greater force. Whether the magnitude of the vengeance increases or stays
the same, the result is usually the same: You're in a blood feud, Hatfield
and McCoy style. In the time of the Vikings, if one person killed a member of
another family, that family went to the first family and killed one of them.
The first family would then go back to the second and kill another one, to
avenge their loss. Sometimes the matter would be settled. Sometimes, everyone
on both sides ended up dead.
You may recognize this as the same sort of shit happening in the Middle East
these days. This is a very unfortunate situation. The best way to handle this
sort of thing is not to start it in the first place. Maybe this is the best
argument for level 1 and 2. You'll have to decide for yourself.
Some people merely want to make an example of the target. Maybe they want to
humiliate them in front of lots of people; maybe they just want to demontrate
power, pure and simple. This can be much more effective if the target is a
blackmailer or other similar "mind criminal", or if you want to leave an
indelible impression and make sure they know not to fuck with you twice.
After a level 3 or 4 vengeance, if the target doesn't discover your identity
and retaliate in kind, they will generally cease to be a problem for you, if
they are able to recover.
The four main tenets of the ideal revenge:
Not everyone cares about rules or ethics. In fact, a lot of people don't
believe there is, or should be, any such thing as "real ethics". As one
person said, "If somebody pisses in my mouth, I am not going to call it rain,
I'm going to call it piss." Revenge is almost always done in cases of extreme
emotional outburst. It's a natural reaction when pushed to the wall: People
are going to try to get the other person back so hard it hurts, mentally,
emotionally, maybe physically.
- 1. Do unto others as they do unto you. (Let the punishment fit the crime.)
- 2. Don't involve innocents. (Don't hurt someone unless they hurt you.)
- 3. Be prepared to be caught. (Always imagine a worst case scenario.)
- 4. Think before you drink. (Think before you do, period.)
One may not personally agree with all forms of revenge. If someone advocates
a form of revenge that you feel is a little (or way) beyond the bonds of
rationality, and you disagree with them, don't be afraid to speak up. Try to
understand their motivations, but if you know someone is wrong, tell them
Ethical debate as practiced on alt.revenge, and on the entire Net, is just
that: debate. Nobody can hit you over the Net, or hang you from a tree until
you're dead, or burn your house down. That's one of the best things about
To sum up: Think. And do the right thing... or at least try to.