Response Anthropological Editions Essay #4 "Long Arm of the Law Can't Reach Many Tiny Towns"

Essay by kaffeneUniversity, Bachelor'sA, December 2006

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Significant Concept: Sulllivan's article focuses on a rural form of social control in a small Mexican town in Mexico named Dos Rios that is being carried out through independent interpretation and administration of the law. In this article, the writer highlights a specific event in which a man spent a night drinking and ended up killing his cousin. After this, the town's sheriff acted on the authority, or recognized right to command another person to act in a particular way given to him by the townspeople as he carried out the most severe form of corporal punishment - the death of the perpetrator of the crime. By definition, law and legal punishments ought to be reserved for the most serious of breaches of norms; the murder of another human being certainly could be viewed as such. Additionally, the article keys in on how this form of legal sanction - the negative behavior of withdrawing rewards or threatening punishment - seemed to play a large role in shaping the ways in which the townspeople acted.

When the sheriff decided that the man should be executed by burial for his crimes, the townspeople gave their approval for the sentence by allowing the sheriff to remain responsible for the legal resolution of the crime that was committed. Because of the nature of the punishment - a murderer was required to give up his own life as punishment for the crime - the system of justice seems to be an interpretation of the ancient Code of Hammurabi, in which the infamous "eye for an eye" form of judicial reciprocity was carried out. This form of court of regulation is one in which the court has more authority than merely arbitrating disputes, but actually defines the rights and duties of the members of...