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Friday, July 31, 2015

How Will You Deal With Sabotage?

& is used with permission.
It seems like most of my posts this month have referenced Naked and Afraid. That isn't intentional, but when I see I theme I tend to run with it.

Today I'm going to be discussing something that happened on Naked and Afraid XL. But before I go into that, I want start with some disclaimers:
  • I am aware that with every reality television show, there is lots more that we do not see and so we do not have context for many things. 
  • I am aware that XL seems to be pushing a dramatic narrative, and that annoys me (and detracts from my enjoyment of the show). 
  • I am aware that between editing and narrative, what we see is not the complete story. 
  • That said -- you can't film things that didn't happen, so if it's on film, it happened. Perhaps not in the same sequence, or with different motivations than shown, but visual proof is still visual proof. 
  • Finally, I am not attempting to assassinate anyone's character, but rather to use what happened as a seed for a thought experiment. 

What We See Happen
For anyone who doesn't watch the show, one of the participants had a meltdown after an argument (which, I note, was edited so we don't see the whole thing and therefore don't know what was said) and sabotaged her group by destroying survival equipment or throwing it into the river. 

Here's a video of the act in question:

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My Question for Readers
Let us assume, purely for purposes of discussion, that something like this happens in your tribe/ survival compound/ whatever you call it. What do you do about it?

The immediate response from many folks is "We kill her, she's a threat to our survival, it's self-defense" or "Exile her from the group, possibly without supplies, depending on the damage and how I feel about the person."

Well, okay. I'm not going to tell you that you're wrong (although for legal reasons I can't tell you that you should do such a thing, either). What I am going to do, however, is bring up some points you might not have thought of, so that you can come to a conclusion now rather than being blindsided by events later. After all, not all prepping is material; consider this "ethical prepping."

What if she's a child?
Honora is an adult and therefore responsible for her actions. What if she were a moody 16 year old girl? (Right or wrong, we as a society DO give more leniency to children, especially female children; doubly especially if they're menstruating.) Do you kill her or kick her out then?

What if she's an emotionally troubled 10 year old? Are you still committed to death or exile (which, let's face it, is essentially a death sentence with nature killing her instead of you) ?

If so, can you live with yourself afterwards?

If not, what are you going to do -- try and rehabilitate her, and risk another incident which might be worse or result in death of another tribe member?  Or will you imprison her, in which case you are forced to keep her alive while she contributes nothing to the group?

If you exile her, how do you know she won't try to sneak back into camp and steal supplies, commit more sabotage, or burn the place down? How do you know she won't meet up with other survivors or raiders and say "Hey, I know a place that has food, water, and shelter. Let's go attack it!" ?

What if she has loved ones?
If no one likes the offender (such as Honora), then the answer is just a matter of personal ethics. But what if someone in the camp loves her and says "No, I won't let you kill her or exile her" ?

The simple answer is to say "If you love her so much, then you can leave with her."  That sounds all well and good until it's your group's only doctor saying that. Are you really willing to allow your source of medical knowledge to leave and depend solely upon what everyone knows about first aid?

If not, you might give the impression that justice can be manipulated via extortion.

If so, others in your group might feel that you made a terrible decision...

What if others resent you for it?
I truly doubt any prepper tribe will be a dictatorship, in which case there may very well be people arguing in favor of mercy. How do you plan to deal with a community that is unable to figure out what to do with a liability?

But perhaps you are a charismatic, benevolent dictator. Perhaps you rule with absolute authority... until you make an unpopular decision, such as killing a teenage girl, that leaves others in your tribe feeling that you are a monster. Are you ready for the split that may happen?  At best, it may just be feelings of divisiveness and friction between parties. At worst, it could lead to a coup, a mutiny, or whatever the proper term might be.

And if the person who is now in control of the tribe is the same person whose daughter you just killed... well, what do you think your chances are now?

In Other Words
Humans are stupid creatures who will bicker and fight among themselves even when their own survival is at stake. 

My Recommendations 
(such as they are, and for whatever they're worth)
  1. Think about this situation now, before it happens. Congratulations, you're already doing this!
  2. If you plan to form a tribe/ survival community, then you need to develop a legal code with pre-established punishments, and have everyone sign on. That way, when things DO happen, you can point at your Laws and say "I am simply enforcing what everyone has already agreed to -- if you want to be angry at someone, be angry at yourselves."  
    • Not that this logic will override reason, of course. But it does shield you (or whoever enforces the rules) somewhat. 
  3. For the same reasons as above, execution of the punishments ought to be a community matter, rather than a "group enforcer" who can be easily hated. 
  4. Make allowances for mercy in the rules, because sometimes The Law is not always Justice. However, these allowances should probably be codified in some way, to ensure fairness. 
    1. If pressed, I would allow for some sort of "second chance" policy for everything but the most heinous crimes. Perhaps instead of exile or death, the guilty party is restricted to half rations, or must perform hard labor -- something whose discomfort helps to reinforce the lesson of "don't do that again", but which does not leave lasting scar. 
    2. For example, Honora could have been told "Go get the survival tools you threw away, and until you bring them back you aren't eating our food, using our fire or sleeping in our shelter." Forced labor to replace deliberately destroyed resources is quite ethical, in my opinion. 
    3. If it happens again, that points to a pattern of misbehavior and therefore more drastic solutions need be implemented. 
  5. Remember that if rule of law returns, you may be held responsible for your actions. Have an excellent justification for everything that happens, and document as much as possible in case a loved one of someone who was executed decides to press charges. 

I realize this last point will meet resistance from the "Shoot, shovel, and shut up" crowd. And maybe that's a better policy; if no one knows you've killed anyone, documenting it is just generating evidence against yourself. However, if the body is found, and there's evidence or testimony elsewhere saying that you did it, it might be helpful to have your version of accounts documented and witnessed.

All of this is food for thought. Give it a good chew this weekend. 

The Fine Print


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