Bribery was once considered a two place relationship but through Carson we now understand it as a three place relationship. Carson defines bribery as a situation where one pays or gives services in order to gain unjust advantage over others (Adler 2010). For example if one paid a traffic police to ignore a traffic offence he or she has committed in cash or by offering a service. When bribing one gives some form of payment for some wrong act to be ignored or to gain undeserved consideration. Bribery is wrong in more that one way , in the first place is the fact that you are paying somebody to get what you don’t deserve or to ignore some wrong. The fact that the paid person discharges his duties under influence is also wrong because he may not be just in doing so. To crown it all it is doubly wrong to take bribe and ignore a wrong hence failing to perform your duty in the same stride.
Blackmail happens when person lets say A asks for unjust payment from person B or else he cause him harm. Take for example A is a respected man in society, powerful, rich and famous and B happens to come across photographs of A which can be used as evidence that he is having an extra marital affair, he is with another woman who is not his wife. B then goes ahead and asks for 10,000$ from A or else he leaks the pictures to the press which will cause a big public scandal or even damage his political career, these is a classic example of blackmail. The paradox of blackmail comes in here, two acts which legal and right in every way on their own are joined together to become an illegal and immoral act which we are calling blackmail. Like in our case, taking photographs of A holding hands with a woman somewhere in itself has no immoral bearing neither does asking for payment from a for the same photographs, what becomes illegal and wrong is asking for too much than the worth of the photographs and threatening to cause harm by making the photographs public.
According to Brady (2005), the paradox of blackmail comes where two actions which in themselves are morally right and legal come together to be wrong and illegal. In his attempt to justify whether blackmail should be criminalized he even comes up with more paradoxes. Brady (2005), argues that it paradoxical to incriminate the blackmail because sometimes the blackmailer threatens to do what he has a right or duty to do. Take for example a bank worker who threatens his boss to pay him or he reports to the authorities that he (the boss) has been swindling bank funds; the blackmailer is not only threatening to do what is legally right but also what he has a duty to do. In the same case it is also paradoxical too that the boss who should be the victim is not really the victim but the bigger offender.
In most cases you will find it paradoxical too that the victim of blackmail would rather be blackmailed than risk the incriminating the blackmailer because then knowledge he wants kept private becomes public. Take the case of rich a powerful man who is given a choice between paying for compromising photographs or suing the blackmailer for extortion, the victim would rather be blackmailed and have the photographs remain out of the public than sue the blackmailer and obviously make the photographs public hence the libertarians argument that any economic transaction between consenting adults including blackmail should be allowed.
On whether blackmail should be criminalized or not, Brady (2005) uses various approaches and arguments one of them being the basis of economics. The concept of productive economic exchange, he asserts that a productive economic exchange occurs between two people if neither of the two people would have been better off if the other person had nothing to do with him or even didn’t exist in the firs place. Meaning blackmail should be prohibited because it is unproductive, but we discussed earlier that there are instances when both the blackmailer and victim benefit in that the victims are content to pay the price rather than have the threat executed because it will result in a much bigger damage.
Yet again blackmail can be considered morally wrong because of the breach of privacy involved. Here the argument is that it is morally wrong for anyone to turn another person’s life into an economic tool, it is only an individual who has a right to publicize details of her private life, and by trying to sell detail s of their victims live s back the blackmailer grossly violates an individual’s right. Yet again this argument is void in a sense because if protection of privacy was of that much importance the blackmailer would not be threatening do what he is saying because it would be a criminal offence in the first place. These will bring about another conflict because protection of some individual’s private live will violate other peoples rights to speak the truth freely and freedom of speech.
A different argument might be brought forward that blackmail should be illegalized because it causes victims harm (Mallor et al, 2010). These leave you wondering whether there are not cases when harm is not only legal but has moral ground too; for example, when you harm somebody in self defense. Are we always able to tell the difference between harm and withheld benefit? In some cases withholding benefits which one has a right to withhold might no be considered blackmail but it the act may be void of morals in ways more than blackmail
According to Mallor et al, (2010), tips, grease payments, blackmail, extortion and bribes differ from one another in some ways. Bribery is the case where one pays in order to receive undeserved advantage as in the case of the traffic policeman who ignores your traffic offenses because you gave him ten dollars. Tips are given where a service is rendered and sometimes a tip can be a gratuity, a gratuity is extra and unnecessary and it is mostly given as a show of gratitude, for example if you gave a bartender some money after you already paid for your drink that is a tip, it is different from a bribe in that the morality of the underling acts in tips and bribes are different. In tipping the underlying act is morally right while in bribing its wrong. Though sometimes people can take or give bribes under the pretext of tipping.
Blackmail as we illustrated earlier with the case of A and B is where you’re threatened to pay a very huge price or else you are harmed. Extortion is where you are asked to pay a price or else you won’t receive a certain benefit. Extortion differs from blackmail in that while a blackmailer threatens to harm by tainting your reputation the on extortinist will threaten to withdraw some benefit. On the other hand grease payments are given to speed up actions which one is entitled to anyway. Like Carson says, underpaid civil servants are paid receive grease payments to render services which is their duty to give anyway. Consider a case where one pays to receive a driving license which he has already qualified for but within a shorter period let’s say an hour instead of a week.
Grease payment differs from a bribe in that unlike a bribe where you pay to receive something which you don’t deserve in grease payment one is entitled to the service (Mallor et al, 2010). For example if the person making the payment did not qualify to get a driving license and he pays to get one, then these becomes a case of bribery. Grease payment differs from a tip in that tips are considered morally right in that one is paying in gratitude not to receive any favor while when grease paying, one aims to receive some form of favor in return.
If we consider the case of Natasha who pays Igor to get a speed visa you discover that sometimes the line between some of the payments we consider right and what we consider wrong is not always so clear cut. Though there are thirty six other applicants waiting for their visas, Natasha pays Igor to get in and receive speeded up services which the others in line are also waiting for. Should we consider Natasha’s payment to Igor a bribe because they (Natasha and Bernard) were not entitled to a place in the inner office, since time was a very important factor in applying for expedition visas they received unjust special treatment over the other applicants yet again it leans to the side of grease payment because Bernard was qualified for the visa anyway, it could be an obvious bribe if Natasha had been paying for Bernard to get a visa which he was not qualified to get. Natasha’s payment is definitely not a tip, tips are usually neutral they and are not paid to seek favors, Natasha definitely wanted something in return and her act had a sense of moral wrong to it.
Many arguments might be arise on whether blackmail should be criminalized or not, obviously it is a dangerous practice that not only harms victims and their families directly but the by encouraging vices such dishonest gain and taking a advantage of others who are ‘weaker’. These should be the primary reason why should it and the related vices.