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ThreatsIntimidation and Its Discontents$
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David P. Barash

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190055295

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190055295.001.0001

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Individuals and Society

Individuals and Society

(p.47) Section 2 Individuals and Society

David P. Barash

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines threats and responses to threats as they play themselves out in human interactions. One of the significant topics here is crime and punishment—notably, how criminal statutes seek to prevent crime by threatening criminals with punishment sufficient to provide an effective deterrent. There is a long and fascinating history of such efforts, with very little success. This leads to a look at the death penalty in particular and whether it has been effective in preventing capital crimes. The chapter also assesses how people turn to religion when under threat, as well as how religions have often threatened their adherents with after-death retribution for sin, which has long influenced much human anxiety and, in some cases, compliance. Moreover, the chapter reflects on the menace of death plus threats involved in the American gun culture, and race-based and economic anxieties driving the rise of right-wing national populism.

Keywords:   after-death retribution, American gun culture, crime, criminal statutes, death penalty, human anxiety, punishment, religion, right-wing national populism, threats

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