I'm not usually a big fan of desert-based theories of justice, of theories of justice that distributed goods and bads according to what people deserve. They're vague and rather dependent on pre-existing patterns and methods of distribution, when what we should be questioning is precisely those patterns and methods of distribution. However, I do think that desert plays a role in a proper account of justice. When people treat other people badly, they deserve bad things to happen to them. When someone provokes me to write this,
Position Vacant: MCR Executive Member
Thick-skinned gullible person wanted for series of thankless tasks, to be performed in addition to getting a degree, a workload which will unfortunately squeeze out any attempt to engage in any social activity by choice. The position will not be paid, except in abuse from a spiteful body, collectively known as the MCR, for whom the executive member is charged with providing constant attention to their every need. The person wishing to take this position should be very aware that the MCR is unfortunately unable to do anything for itself, owing to the fact that it is bone-idle and unimaginative – except in forming insults – and so will have to be led like a small child everywhere. There is the possibility of attempting to get individual MCR members to assist in the performance of the executive’s functions, but owing to their systematic ungratefulness and unwillingness to lift a finger to help themselves, any members who have promised to provide assistance will use every excuse in the book to weasel its way out of doing any work, perform any tasks they agree to do at most semi-competently, and then complain bitterly that they didn’t feel sufficiently involved in the process. Communication with the MCR will be restricted by the apathy and inability to use email, telephones or even speak, other than at termly meetings, of the MCR, to termly meetings, where utter ignorance of anything that has been done by the person holding the position will be used as a basis for ritualised scorn. Applications to the xxxx students, care of xxxxx xxxx, xx xxxxxxxxxxx College
I'm angry, and I think they ought to suffer for what they've done. I don't claim that people ought to be ashamed of themselves, and that I am glad that I am leaving the corporate body of which they are members, as I did in a more reasonable but no less disgusted response to last night's behaviour, particularly lightly. People make genuine mistakes, and they ought to be forgiven for them, but an hour and a half of sustained abuse of people who have given up time and effort for your benefit is not a mistake. It is the deliberate and calculated injury of people to whom you owe gratitude. That is despicable. Despicable acts ought to have consequences for those who commit them. At the MCR meeting I attend last night, acts which were, by this account, despicable, were committed, and I hope, I really, really want - oh please God, let me get what I want - appropriate consequences to find their way to those who committed them. I might even go so far as to say that I will actively strive for such consequences to find their way to those upon whom they should fall. I should add, I'm not even a member of the executive committee of the MCR.
Disclaimer: I wrote this when I was pissed, on both senses of the word. So it should be taken with a pinch of salt. But still...