This Iranian mother and father also give us a small glimpse of what justice may look like in a libertarian anarchist society in which the harshest penalty is not always carried out and discretion is allowed to be employed. This is in contrast to the mandatory sentences we see carried out in America and the unforeseen consequences they can have.
I find the story ironic, as we in America are bombarded by propaganda depicting Iranians as Islamic extremists and bloodthirsty anti-Semites who hold an irrational hatred of the United States having absolutely nothing to do with the U.S. government’s involvement in the overthrowing of their democratically-elected leader and the installation of a puppet regime.
How many American parents would spare their child’s murderer if they were given direct control over their fate? How many American “Christians” have forgiven those who have committed far less devastating crimes against them – an appropriate question to ask as it is Good Friday.
Many skeptics of libertarianism wonder how crimes like this may be handled in a libertarian anarchist society – a question I consider to be completely understandable and natural.
Although it is hard to determine precisely, since anarchy in its original sense has only been done on a small scale in countries like Ireland and Iceland, private law would presumably handle crimes like this. In most outcomes, the family would demand blood of the guilty.
There would be, however, cases like this, where the guilty are spared from execution out of forgiveness and a desire to avoid further death. Life does not fit a neat mold from which to decide the punishment, and the circumstances play a large part in deciding whether a punishment is appropriate. Undoubtedly, this would be taken into account by individuals in an libertarian anarchist society when making these kinds of decisions. With the State, however, politics come into play and such discretion is either left to judges who have their own agenda and can be either too lenient or harsh, or mandatory sentencing takes away all discretion and carries out unjust punishments.
But you know what’s more amazing? The fact that two ordinary people showed more mercy to their son’s killer than the State would if in the same role. Contrast them with the behavior of police officers and law enforcement agencies when one of their own is killed.
The State is actually worse; it shows no mercy to those who challenge its illegitimate authority – or to those who intentionally or unwittingly violate laws enacted only to create criminals out of law-abiding citizens, like the federal income tax.
Would private law involve risk? Absolutely. But a far less of a risk than trusting the State to deal out justice.