chapter  4
27 Pages

Find Them and Kill Them: Retributive Justice Scripts

The previous chapter suggested that the “might makes right” conception of justice was a product of the Old Justice world, which supported cultural adaptations, where those on the lower rung of the social ladder were almost powerless against abuse or harm in the hands of their superiors. The resulting mental model called poetic justice, in neurocognitive terms, was an adjunctive complex-a survival-motivated thought-and action-protocol of redirecting an unachievable need into habituated reactions that ignore or negate it, yet make one feel as if they were doing something real about that need (Paanksep and Biven 111). In its feudal and then transcendentalist versions, poetic justice was a mental construct and a knowledge structure, which, as a script, operated in real-life situations but also became a structuring element of oral and literary narratives including folk and fairy tales. Although elements of retributive justice can be found in these genres, they were created for and recounted by the unpowerful, non-artistocratic audience, featured unpowerful protagonists, and were in effect dominated by the poetic justice scripts. However, if poetic justice was a bottom-up scripting within the Old Justice paradigm, the top-down protocol-available to the powerful-was retributive justice.