Sunday, March 25, 2012


In ancient Middle Eastern cultures, thousands of years ago, people transferred their wrongdoings to goats. People then set the goats free into the wilderness to die miserable deaths of thirst and starvation. This somehow cleansed people of their responsibilities and wrongdoings, or so they thought. This notion of the escaping goat gave us the English word we know today as "scapegoat."

The idea that wrongdoings could be atoned for by the murder of innocent beings was a central theme in many ignorant, backward Middle Eastern cultures. Given all we know today, can our wrongdoings really be cleansed away by murdering innocent goats or anything else? If so, and crucially, is it moral for us to attempt to avoid personal responsibility by having innocent beings tortured and murdered on our behalves?

It does not appear possible for us to cast our responsibilities onto goats or anyone or anything else. And it is a good thing it does not appear possible. Personal responsibility forms the basis for all morality. We must be responsible for our own actions if we are to live morally. The thought that we could somehow cast our own wrongdoings onto an innocent being to be tortured and murdered is both ridiculous and horrific. I do not authorize anyone or anything to be tortured or murdered due to my misdeeds. As an able and competent adult, complaints about my behavior should be addressed to me and me alone.

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