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Preface and Acknowledgments It’s comforting to think that we are nothing like perpetrators of violence and other havoc. The distance allows us to identify with goodness and good people. I take the position that the difference is quantitative and not qualitative—that I have more in common with Pol Pot, Hitler, and the men at Enron than I might like to believe. I eat fish killed for this purpose, sometimes behave badly toward loved ones, and once kicked a moody roommate out of a low-rent New York City apartment leased in my name. Long before I began systematically investigating what I share with the worst doers of harm, I suspected that we shared many if not all of the same needs and desires— for respect, connection, and material comfort. Therefore I feel little regret in lumping harm doers together for the sake of analysis, as I do in this book. But lumping together harmful experiences is another matter. There is no comparing the harm of being laid off with the harm of having all members of one’s family murdered. Victims are commonly treated as a homogenous group by criminologists and the criminal justice system; I am sorry to take a broad brush to their experiences as well. However, I collapse them in this book for the sake of discerning the logical systems that permit our harmful actions. I hope that the move to a general theory of harm ultimately amounts to greater recognition for and help to victims. During research interviews, many practices that I thought of as harms did not get recognized as such by my participants. For instance, on the matter of killing animals for meat—“Is it ix harm?”—many speakers seemed not to understand the question. Were we asking if meat is bad for one’s health? I take the business of lumping acts of harm together that do not seem to belong as a useful exercise in dismantling the fences we have built around them. Helping me to do so was a remarkable team of research assistants and supporters. Chris Belford, Leigh Dickey, Lori Farney, Amanda Greene, Rob Keeton, Lauren Ludwikowski, and Kurt Vincent assisted me with interviewing, transcribing, and analyzing data. Susan Silver was a wonder as copyeditor. Scott Frey supported me in a sabbatical, and Jon Shefner offered unwavering encouragement. Piers Beirne, Michelle Brown, Hoan Bui, Emily Gaarder, Bobby Jones, Rahim Manji, Jim Ptacek, Rachel Rich-Reynolds, Sveinung Sandberg, and Deb Sullivan provided invaluable guidance. To all of you who have tended to my children with love so that I could work (or rest), I am especially grateful. Preface and Acknowledgments x Why We Harm ...


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MARC Record
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