Just For Fun Concerts EP 2016-25 (Episode 29)

Welcome to Episode 29 of Tales from the Dropbox. These are the show notes, originally planned for Episode 28, that were preempted by the psychopath in Orlando. We still need Congress to do something about putting military type weapons into the hands of bad people.

So, here is another increasingly problematic anti-social behavior, not nearly as pressing as the gun issue, but morphing into a huge problem – third party punishers (aka social media parasites):

I spent an afternoon watching the Ali memorial service and while listening to the tributes to a man who for a period of time was amongst the most hated persons in America and is now almost universally beloved, I could not help but wonder where the court of public opinion would stand on Ali’s position on the Vietnam war and the draft if we had social media in the 1960s.

Why the look back? Ali’s unpopular position on an issue of public importance – the war in Vietnam –  and the subsequent change in public opinion through the lend of time is juxtaposed against the current universal scorn for the judge in the Stanford swimmer rape case that has ignited a firestorm of moral outrage with regard to the length of the sentence imposed by the court in that particular case.

The issue of social significance is not found in the specifics of this particular case. While the discussion of “rape culture” is important because, as much as that issue is discussed, very little concrete action is taken to change the destructive, harmful and barbaric treatment of women (and will likely be a topic for a future version of these notes), my problem with the Stanford Swimmer Rape case is not the length of the punishment imposed but rather:

Why is there a need for persons unconnected and unaffected by a particular event to voice their public outrage because they perceive some injustice has occurred related to the event?

This is the central societal issue raised by the Stanford swimmer rape case – why do people feel the need to publicly punish people through social media? The issue that should be addressed by the social media and other commentators in the Stanford case is the elimination of crimes against women. However, that issue is lost in the noise created by the emotional hostility of these third party punishers. Simply, their moral outrage is not for the benefit of the victim. Rather, their overwhelming desire to publicly comment on events that do not affect them is selfish and is done solely to enhance the reputations of the outraged.

A recent letter by Jillian J. Jordan, Moshe Hoffman, Paul Bloom and David G. Rand in Nature entitled “Third-party punishment as a costly signal of trustworthiness” (Nature 530,473–476 (25 February 2016) suggests that third-party punishment (“TPP”), in which unaffected observers punish selfishness, is done for the benefit of the punisher as a signal that they are more trustworthy which is an evolutionary advantage. The authors present empirical evidence of the following:

(a) it can be advantageous for individuals to punish selfishness in order to signal that they are not selfish themselves.

(b) TPP is a signal of trustworthiness i.e. third-party punishers are trusted more, and actually behave in a more trustworthy way, than non-punishers.

(c) Furthermore, when potential punishers have the chance to help, they are less likely to punish, and punishment is perceived as, and actually is, a weaker signal of trustworthiness.

This study leaves unaddressed the central question – is TPP morally correct? The Stanford swimmer case frames the social issue well – the punishers belief is that the judge should be punished because he didn’t punish the rapist enough even though this position on the length of the punishment does absolutely nothing to assist the victim of the horrific crime.  Further, the moral outrage expressed by the punishers is based upon incomplete information. That is, the punishers demand for the recall and removal of the judge is driven by their perceived notion that the outcome was unjust as measured by the length of the sentence imposed upon the rapist.

The court system has long ago abandoned the concept of justice because it is woefully missing in that system for the very reason the system works –  justice is not precise. Justice is an ideal and justice cannot exist in the Court system because humans are involved and they introduce randomness into outcomes.  Did Ali get justice when he was stripped of his boxing title for objecting to what he believed was an immoral war by a court? Will the victim of this horrific crime obtain justice from a court of law for her being raped, regardless of the length of the sentence imposed?

TPP is not about justice. The focus should be on the victims of these horrific crimes not on the punishers need for attention. Third party punishers have found their voice on social media. The consequences of their unfettered access and threatening commentary should be a major concern to all of us. Their behavior is destructive to healthy social discourse. Not only does their punishing not result in justice for victims or advance their issue of social concern, their intimidating and obnoxious commentary fosters an environment where debate is thwarted.  TPP interferes with the free exercise of expression, reduces ideas and expression in public forums, and violates the very fabric of the Constitution. TPP is un-American. Stop public punishing.

Here is what you’ll find in Episode #29:

  1. StarBenders – “Diet Soda” (Heavy Petting)
  2. Fuzzy Vox – “Grow Evil” (No Landing Plan)
  3. Hermitage Green – “Save Your Soul” (Save Your Soul)
  4. Egg Bites Chicken – “Save the World” (Get Laid)
  5. The Virginmarys – “Falling Down” (Divides)
  6. Sony & the Sunsets – “Nightmares” (Moods Baby Moods)
  7. Young Rival – “Lucky” (Strange Light Ep)
  8. Har Mar Superstar – “Haircut” (Best Summer Ever)
  9. King Tuff – “Wild Desire” (Wild Desire (Single))
  10. Jake Bugg – “Bitter Salt” (On My One)
  11. ARMS – “Keep It Light” (Patterns)
  12. Mrs. Magician – “Eyes All Over Town” (Bermuda)
  13. King Creosote & Michael Johnston – “Supermoon” (The Bound of the Red Deer)
  14. Men of North County – “Running” (This City)
  15. Romp – “Avoiding Boys” (Departure From Venus)

Never mind what you said last week babe I forgive what you’ve done … you’re my sun you’re my stars you’re my supermoon.


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