„The only thing that’s real.“
Hurt, Johnny Cash
Let’s say someone is singing “One who does not like Dabic Rasa, should suck our dick”. How many people may be insulted by this? The lower limit is, I believe, several million. The upper limit is probably – everyone. What is the sum of all the spiritual, or, let’s say moral pain that these verses inflict? How are we to calculate that?
Let us assume that several million people believe this to be a multiple insult addressed directly to them, and with clear intent. How multiple? This is a question for each man or listener (the verses are from a song performed by Emir Kusturica and the band Zabranjeno pusenje) or reader individually. Each of the intended insults does not hurt everyone equally, which means that we should determine what is the intensity of each insult for certain groups out of this several million people, and then multiply this with the corresponding number of people. Then there is the problem of measuring the intensity of the pain, which could probably be solved in one of the known ways (in accordance with the revealed preference theory). The sum of all the pain would certainly be high. If measurement is carried out with the use of money, we would know what the compensation would be if it is necessary to offer compensation for the pain that was inflicted. It is possible, and we will talk about this later, that the pain is good, that it is useful. In that case, it would be necessary to reward the authors and performers of these verses.
What is the situation with the upper limit? The assumption here is that all people are morally equal. This means that each insult equally insults every person. However, since the majority of people have neither the necessary knowledge, nor the appropriate moral resources (in the sense of David Hume), we can assume that such insults are below the threshold of their moral sensitivity, and, thus, their sensitivity to pain as well. However, since there is a large number of people, and if we take into account all the future generations, then this number is really high – even the insults they are not aware of and the pain which is not felt, but which is not, in a moral sense, nonexistent, even such minor pain multiplied with such a large number of people leads to – immeasurable pain. This pain is irreparable, except in the moral sense. We will discuss this later. Thus, those who sing the abovementioned verses insult at least several million people, and the insult is strongest to each person individually, and inflicts either intensive or immeasurable pain (for more details see F. Kafka, In the penal colony, or D. Parfit, Reasons and Persons).
Does this mean that it would be necessary to prohibit the singing of this song, or that Kusturica and Zabranjeno pusenje should be sued for insulting so many people and inflicting all this moral and spiritual pain? I believe not. This is poetic freedom and the freedom of speech and thought. These freedoms are not useless. We learn that artists in question get a certain amount of satisfaction (feel happiness?) expressing their love for a man convicted of the worst possible crimes and insulting and humiliating the victims of these crimes. We also learn that not a small number of people experience the same satisfaction listening and reading the above-mentioned verses, and, indirectly, insulting and humiliating the victims. Finally, we learn that not such a small number of people are ready to award these artists for what they are singing, and that an even larger number of people have no negative moral judgment on this.
This is very useful to those who are insulted by those verses, and the pain they feel is by all means morally beneficial. It should hurt. It is actually a form of moral compensation for the damage which was really caused. In view of this, we should consider whether there is another way for Kusturica and Zabranjeno pusenje to be rewarded for all these insults and all this pain.
Translated by Bojana Obradovic