What if we lived by Hammurabi’s code? You know, eye for an eye, do unto others what’s been done to you. What would be just punishment for murder then? One small village in Bolivia decided to find out.
In the hot sticky town of Colquechaca in Bolivia, South America a young woman of only 35 years was brutally raped and murdered. Over two hundred residents hunted for her killer. And they found him or so it seemed. An even younger kid of seventeen stood accused. Yet residents chose not to wait for the police. No. They chose to take matters into their own hands.
Blocking the roads to prevent police from entering the village, residents tied up this young kid and forced him to sit through her funeral. But before they lowered her coffin into the ground, they grabbed the kid and threw him into the grave. Alive. They lowered the coffin on top of him and filled the hole with dirt. Forever entombing him with his victim. If that really was his victim. Perhaps he was an innocent kid wrongly accused. That we’ll never know. Rightly accused or not, I can only imagine his screams. Draconian? Perhaps. Effective? Quite possibly.
So what’s the psychology behind this? Well, my first thought is mob mentality. Where people who are part of a group lose their individual identity and adopt the actions of the group. To make matters worse, this was an emotionally charged situation, which lowers moral inhibitions and increases the likelihood of adopting the identity of the mob. My second thought is that these people have a desire for revenge. Perhaps they feel their justice system is not doing its job or not being strict enough with offenders. Or maybe they feel a deep satisfaction of knowing the perpetrator has paid the price. Either way, their method may give them resolution that their justice system does not supply.
An eye for an eye… do you think the world will go blind?
Update: Two people have been charged in leading the mob that buried the child alive.