In The News Today There Is An Article About A

1297 words - 5 pages

In the news today there is an article about a high-school boy who brought guns to school and shot several students. The parents of the victims are suing various computer game companies saying that the violent games present shooting and killing people as pleasurable and fail to portray realistic consequences. A representative of one of the companies released a statement saying that this is another example of individuals seeking to elude responsibility that has become so common in our society. This case is not about software. What is on trial is the age-old debate between nature and nurture, which also lies at the center of Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment.In his dream about the gray nag, Raskolnikov as an unshaped child is innately compassionate; he weeps for horses being cruelly beaten, but already society, in the form of his parents, begins to shape him, to train him, to numb his compassionate feelings for those in pain. His mother draws him away from the window when he sees such a horse pass and his father tells him when the men kill the nag "They're drunk, they're playing pranks, it's none of our business, come along" (59). Already Raskolnikov is being taught to rationalize murder, for all those people who watched and did not interfere are partly to blame as they rationalize that "it's none of our business." Mikolka, the horse's murderer, also rationalizes his role; first, he defines the mare as property, not as life. Repeatedly he says "It's my goods" (57) while those who object refer to the horse not as an neuter object but as "her." Secondly, he attempts to justify the act through cold reasoning: "I might as well kill her, she's not worth her feed" (56), thus boiling the worth of life down to a simple mathematical equation-if the nag eats x roubles of grain a month and pulls y carts thus earning roubles A) less than x then the horse is not worth feeding or allowing to live, or B) more than x then the horse is useful and should be allowed to live.Elsewhere in the book we see a similar computation defined for us. At a tavern Raskolnikov overhears a student discussing the hypothetical murder of Alyona Ivanovna: Kill her and take her money, so that afterwards with its help you can devote yourself to the service of all mankind and the common cause: What do you think, wouldn't thousands of good deeds make up for one tiny little crime? For one life, thousands of lives saved from decay and corruption. One death for hundreds of lives-it's simple arithmetic! (65) Yet when the officer asks "but tell me: Would you yourself kill the old woman, or not?" the student replies "Of course not!" (66) because despite his talk the student realizes that there is more to murder than logic. He recognizes the magnitude of ending a life in cold blood, as does Raskolnikov, despite all his rationalization.After the murder Raskolnikov thinks "I should have known . . . and how, knowing myself, anticipating myself, did I dare take an axe and bloody my hands! I had...

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