Saturday, August 3, 2019
Vigilantism is deeply rooted in American tradition (Brown, 1975). Arising in response to an absence of law and order in early frontier regions, and a concern with self-protection and self-preservation, vigilantes were seen as valued members of society. One of the primary reasons for the value of vigilantes is that their jurisdiction began where the law ended (Burrows, 1976; Perry & Pugh, 1989). Moreover, vigilantes partook in behaviors that legal authorities would not, could not, and should not perform (Brown, 1975). Incidents of vigilantism are not isolated to the American frontier, though. Reports of vigilantism have emerged in countries such as the United Kingdom (Evans, 2003; Sharp, Atherton, & Williams, 2008), Kosovo (Wheeler, 2000), Nigeria (McCall, 2004), Indonesia (Barker, 2006), Israel (Yanay, 1993), and Ghana (Adinkrah, 2005). These reports often conjure up mixed beliefs. Some society members and organizations publicly chastise vigilantes (Hine, 1998; McCall, 2004; Perry & Pugh, 1989), while others publicly herald them as heroes (Perry & Pugh, 1989). Lawyers, judges, and citizens have seen vigilantes as necessary components in the framework of America (Brown, 1975) and several movies have idolized real (e.g., Issakaba series) and fictional vigilantes (e.g., Death Wish and Vigilante). Pundits and intellectuals have also defended real-life vigilantes (i.e., the Bakassi Boys) accused of torture, rape, and arbitrary imprisonment. Interestingly, individuals view behaviors such as rape and t orture as deplorable when enacted in everyday situations; however, when vigilantes behave in such a way, their actions are not viewed as negatively (Ekeh, 2002; McCall, 2004). Although the general concept of a vigilante is somewhat clear... ...g victims using the mechanism of dehumanization. Dehumanization removes human qualities and/or attributes from individuals by stripping them of thoughts and feelings. For example, during Vietnam, soldiers referred to the enemy as Ã¢â¬Å"gooksÃ¢â¬ rather than Vietnamese citizens (Kaiser, 1969). After removing the moniker of humanness, deplorable actions are more acceptable. If removing human qualities is not successful though, individuals might also ascribe demonic or bestial qualities to their victims (Bandura, 2002). Attribution of Blame Individuals might also derogate victims by using the attribution of blame mechanism of moral disengagement. Attribution of blame portrays the aggressor as a faultless victim driven to harmful conduct through forced action (Bandura, 2002). For example, some rapists suggest that the victim was Ã¢â¬Å"asking for itÃ¢â¬ by the way she dressed or acted.