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July 09, 2010


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It is an interesting theme you suggest. Specially because you destroy the obvious argument in the beginning. It reminds me of Anthanás Mockus' slogan "no todo se vale". However, if he did indeed received a penalty and the punishment and we are not happy with it, shouldn't the rule be changed?
How do you compare this to "la mano de Dios"? In the latter case the player is fooling the referee which seems worst

I agree that the "Mano de Dios" is worse, I think, whether from Maradona or Thierry. (Thierry didn't seem to be deliberately trying to hide it, the way Maradona did. What that means, I can't say.)

Over on Facebook, my friend Jorge Coarasa says that he's not sure he would resist the temptation. The analogy I made was with littering or running red lights. He said you'd run a red light with your life at stake. True ... but losing a World Cup elimination match is not quite the same thing as death.

I don't know how to change the rule. I understand the dislike of automatic goals. Red cards could become more binding, although I don't know if FIFA can enforce penalties in the professional leagues.

Morally, the argument that Suárez would not have done what he did with 20 minutes left on the clock isn't relevant. Practically, though, it means that the problem is really one for late-game goals.

Maybe two or three penalty kicks for really egregious interference at the goal?

"In some cases, it is accurate to think of the punishment as a form of toll: you pay it to get whatever advantage you might derive from the rulebreaking. (In most cases, speeding falls into this category.) Others are not tolls. Society tries to keep punishments proportionate, and thus sometimes the penalties may be relatively low, but the idea is to avoid the behavior altogether. (Insider trading and drunk driving come immediately to my mind.)"

Seems like a false distinction to me. "Society" has a limited number of penalty-tools available and limited ranges within which it can tune said tools. There is nothing in the statutes that says "speeding really isn't that big a deal" or "murder IS a big deal", other than the range of penalties associated with each. If the penalty is then set low enough that it seems minor in proportion to the payout (or potential for payout), then society is clearly sending the "not really a big deal" message via the only channel it has, and should expect individuals to act accordingly (at least where some other internal "moral" governor is not at work.)

Case in point: Speeding, which you mention. The penalties for same are set low, and the enforcement efforts are weak enough, that most people I knew who did the daily commute on the NYS Thruway went well over the speed limit as a matter of course. The intention of the law is supposedly a ban. The signals, however, are clearly in the direction of a guideline. And as very little "moral" onus also accrues, one gets regular, large-scale speeding.

The fine in California is about the same as that for speeding, but a ban is clearly intended for red-light-running and not for speeding.

Society, I think, has many ways of indicating its disapproval of certain actions besides the legal penalty. Ditto professional sports.

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