The concept of “surrendering humanity” has been sticking in my head a lot lately.

Like, at what point, if any, does a person lose any and all right to human dignity because of their actions?

This first got put into my head when I read this article from Bitch on whether or not the current punitive system for street harassers should be abolished in favor of a more rehabilitative approach. I have really conflicted feelings about this. Do I think that the community message about the utter wrongness of street harassment should be disseminated so as to try to stop it before it starts? Abso-fucking-lutely. But I can’t help but shake the thought that this article takes away the agency of the people who do it and ignores the fact that there’s some point at which a street harasser makes the decision to commit an act of verbal or physical violence on his* own free will, and while he probably wouldn’t have decided to do so if not for the influence of his environment, it isn’t the environment itself that makes the choice for him, he does. And while I intellectually agree with the opinion that nobody should be judged by the worst thing they’ve ever done (especially if I watch something like The Shawshank Redemption—shush, I love that movie—that has an admittedly romanticized view of criminals) on a gut level I think the victims deserve to see the people who ruined their lives suffer as much as they did.

And the most disturbing thing about this topic is that it makes me have thoughts, albeit irrational ones, that could be interpreted as my own humanity/grip on reality slipping away. If I see someone, for example, claiming that all autistic people should have been aborted before they were even born, I start to think, “I could seriously kill you right now without a shred of remorse.” But that’s part of my OCD, considering I loathe ALL violence and am generally the kind of person who would cry over the corpse of someone they had to kill in self-defense. It just disturbs me immensely, and although I don’t self-harm, thinking about these kinds of things do make me stim so convulsively that it can physically hurt me. I feel like I could neither be a complete pardoner of people who commit horrible acts nor someone who condemns without exception, but here I honestly feel like there is no middle ground. Any thoughts?

*I’m not scapegoating men here, but the fact is that men are the ones who commit the overwhelming majority of these acts.

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