Jeremiah tells us that, in his corner of the world, mob justice and burnings aren't a very common practice ... which is unfortunately just another way of saying that they do happen, even if they're infrequent.
And for a variety of reasons ...
It's next to impossible to get precise statistics, though we know that in Kenya there were 100 such cases in just a two-month span in 2011. In the spring and summer of 2013, the country averaged more than one vigilante killing a day. "Mostly, it involves pickpockets who are not very sleek or fast, some pedophiles, and every once in a while a rapist. This data isn't methodically/statistically very precise, but I'd say that one out of three of these mob justices end up in burning," Jeremiah says. And we doubt that the other two conclude with a stern talking to and the criminal being let go.
Admittedly, if it was just rapists and pedophiles experiencing this brutal mob justice, it'd still be a pretty horrifying thing, but at least you can sort of understand the mindless rage the sympathizers would feel in that situation -- lashing out in a moment of grief and extreme anger. But burning a petty thief seems like pure lunacy (or the act of people who just really want an excuse to burn somebody), and the lack of due process means random innocent people going up in flames on a regular basis. We're talking about elderly Kenyan men and women being burned alive for being "witches" and kids being murdered with fire for belonging to the wrong tribe.
Uriel Sinai/Getty Images News/Getty Images
In case you breezed past that last link, the kids in question were literally in the process of hiding
from violence. In a church. Not exactly our finest hour, Humanity.
And that, right there, is the problem with vigilante justice in a nutshell. The moment you decide it's OK for the mob to play judge, jury, and executioner, well, what are the boundaries? Who's to decide when the mob has gone too far? If they even try, that's when they'll find out it's not about justice -- it's about revenge and instant gratification. In the real world, you don't get Batman or The Punisher. You just get people like Jeremiah's neighbors, who to this day probably don't think they did anything wrong.
As for Jeremiah, he's now almost fully recovered and living in a different part of Kenya with his parents. He's working hard to regain his healthy self back and to exorcise the ghosts of the past. If you would like to help, he's currently running a fundraiser campaign on Indiegogo to cover the accrued mountain of medical bills.
Please feel free to pass by and DONATE to Jeremiah's cause.
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Psst ... want to give us feedback on the super-secret beta launch of the upcoming Cracked spinoff site, Braindrop? Well, simply follow us behind this curtain. Or, you know, click here: Braindrop.
For more insider perspectives, check out Cops Won't Help You: 7 Things I Saw As A Real Slasher Victim and The Gruesome Truth About Getting Shot (A First-Hand Account).
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out The 8 Saddest Real World Superheroes, and watch other videos you won't see on the site!
Also, follow us on Facebook, and let's all tell happy stories, because we could use one after all that.
Have a story to share with Cracked? Email us here.