Friday, July 8, 2016

The Death of Justice

     It’s time to write an obituary.

     The concept of Justice is founded on two other ideas:

  1. Rights: The idea that individuals possess certain unalienable rights, and that all violations of those rights are inherently unjust.
  2. Rule of Law: The idea that the law is supreme over all persons, regardless of their identities or any property attached to them.

     Law, therefore, is instituted to protect individuals’ rights, and is enforced uniformly against all who violate its terms.

     Some laws are unjustifiable, in that either their provisions or their enforcement will invade individuals’ rights. We can pass over such laws in silence for the moment, noting simply that an unjust law contradicts the first of the two pillars of Justice. However, the subject can and should be visited at greater length in the future.

     Some laws are more easily justified than others. Many – I’m one – have criticized aspects of the laws pertaining to the protection of classified information. Those laws don’t appear to protect any individual right. However, they do pertain to the military defense of the United States, to its foreign relations, and to the operations of its intelligence-gathering agencies. These things are at least indirectly connected to the rights of Americans: specifically, their right not to be killed by, or placed in bondage to, a hostile power.

     But for the Rule of Law to be maintained, the enforcement of the law must be uniform: dismissive of the personal identities and statuses of those accused of violating it. If there are persons, even in theory, who are exempt from the provisions or the enforcement of the law, Justice is not served but destroyed: a channel through it has been opened by which such persons can commit unjust acts without penalty in complete contradiction of the Rule of Law.

     The existence of unjust laws is important, but it can be rectified. The existence of protected statuses – characteristics or achievements that can exempt someone from a law that binds others – is both devastating and uncorrectable. Nor does it matter whether such statuses are themselves defined by the law or are arrived at post facto.

     Particular instances of injustices committed under color of law can be redressed. An example has just been provided to us: the police executions of unarmed persons, entirely without rationale. Those killings were not accidental but deliberate. Therefore, the involved police are themselves lawbreakers. But Rights can still be protected and the Rule of Law maintained if those police are compelled to face indictment, trial, and (if convicted) the appropriate penalty for their crimes. Indeed, that’s the whole point of the justice system.

     However, once lawbreakers – persons who have indisputably violated the law according to its text – are permitted to “skate” because of some aspect of their status, the Rule of Law comes tumbling down. In its place arises a Society of Status, in which one’s social, economic, or political placement determines one’s vulnerability to the law. Such a society differs in no important way from one hagridden by a hereditary aristocracy: one in which the son of a baron can rape and murder a peasant girl and get completely away with it.

     Though I was appalled by the behavior of the accomplished David Petraeus in providing classified information to his wholly uncleared mistress, I was heartened when he was compelled to face the music. It suggested that, as with the penalties visited upon Vice President Spiro Agnew for corruption, political elevation is still no protection against being brought to justice. Perhaps, I thought, Justice still stands despite the slew of unjust laws and the occasionally successful attempts by the highly placed to escape their reach.

     But with the politically motivated – really, can there be any other explanation? – exoneration of Hillary Clinton for her multiple and indisputable violations of the explicit texts of the National Security Act and the Espionage Act, Justice has crumbled. Ours is now a Society of Status, in which having attained high office, or descent from a high official, or attachment by marriage to one such can win oneself free of the grip of a law that would inescapably envelop any “ordinary” American.

     How does it feel to know that you’re ruled by a noble class, Gentle Reader?

     Law has lost its soul and become jungle. – Bertrand de Jouvenel


Malatrope said...

There is nothing at all "noble" about the class of organized criminals that runs this country.

Anonymous said...

well, two can play at that game...I'm not above outdoing the left at their ill-considered shenanigans.

Tim Turner said...

I've been torturing myself for the last several hours by reading the comments to articles in the Washington Post, the New York Times and sseveral other press outlets. (NOT Breitbart, Huffington, PJM or their ilk.)

The articles I've been reading are about Hillary, Trump, the Dallas shootings, and others.

And the main thing I've noticed is the DIVIDE. There is a divide amongst the commenters that, at their BEST, admit a fundamental difference in outlook - that one side grants the other a right to its view, but that it is wrong, misguided or ignorant.

FAR more prevelant is name-calling, shrill repetition of talking points or outright vitriol, shaming or hatred.

That is, regardless of the original story, or any bias or slant of the original story, the readers of that story are adamant in their viewpoint and are not adding perspective, not offering insight and not just saying, "agree" or "disagree." They are pilloring the people who disagree with them and declaring their view that the other side is WRONG and, often, morally reprehensible for even daring to espouse their opinion.

Fran, I agree with your postulate about rights and the rule of law.

But it seems that - whether you're tallking about justice or even if science is science - there are hundreds of commenters who will argue obstinately on ANY side of an argument. And I think there are thousands or millions who tacitly agree with either side. And there are other millions who don't seem to think that ANY distinction is important. "Who am I to judge?" "Discrimination is BAD!"

You preambled your discussion of justice with postulates about rights and the rulle of law.

How can we get anywhere when half of Americanss disagree on what rights are and maybe half of Americans DO NOT agree that, "The idea that the law is supreme over all persons, regardless of their identities or any property attached to them."

As for the second one, many seem to believe that "elites" may be above some rules of law. But it seems to me that we have millions who think they are disenfranchied by this country - de facto - and that they are thusly exempt from any rule.

The problem isn't that your logic is unsound. The problem is that America now has a significant number of people who WILL NOT LISTEN to ANY argument that disagrees with their own bias of victimization, unfairness or preconceived notions of what ought to be.

I'm serious. If you posit that 1+1=2, you'll get argument from both sides, depending on what your next sentence says and where you post it.

Eskyman said...

Long ago, in Australia- I remember what seemed to be a huge outcry, due to the fact that a Prime Minister (as I recall it was Paul Keating) was photographed in his official car while it was in motion- and he wasn't wearing his seatbelt!

This amazed me greatly. Apparently the Aussies reckoned that even the high & mighty should obey the same laws as the commoners! What a concept!

(This must be taken as my fevered imagination, as I have been unable to find any link to such an occurrence- but I still remember it vividly, it was in all the papers at the time.)

Australia has a lot to offer- but sadly, they make no pretense of having any individual rights. There is no freedom of speech, no freedom of self-defense; in fact their Constitution (adopted in 1901) was modelled after our own, but they purposely left out the Bill of Rights. Subjects don't need rights, you know.

Fortunately for them, they have been and still are largely a homogenous society; unfortunately that won't last, as they are as mad for "diversity" as any place, so they're seeding their own destruction with every "immigrant" they allow.

Still, one would find Australia a pleasant place to watch the world burn, while enjoying superb beaches with lots of eye-candy. That's it, on the beach! Someone should write about that, don't you think? ;-)