The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Justice



The president met Friday with many families impacted by terror attacks. Some were upset by his decision to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, some were upset by the delays in trying people involved with the 9-11-01 attacks, some upset with the decision to delay the trial of a key figure in the USS Cole bombing in 2000. Some of these did not come to the meeting. From what I can gather, most of the families invited did accept the White House invitation.

There was a lot of talk about "justice" by these people. I can definitely understand that. But I started to consider what "justice" means. No, actually, I started to wonder what it means.

Justice, according to Webster's online dictionary, means "the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments" among a few other,less applicable, things.

The definition seems to require another definition, that of just, in order to understand it. Dictionary.com has a simpler, maybe clearer, definition: "the administering of deserved punishment or reward."

Still, I wonder about what justice really means to us as individuals. If you are the victim of a crime (or friend or family member of one), justice often means revenge. If you are the perpetrator (or his/her friend or family) then it often means lenient treatment or, perhaps, even vindication.

Justice seems to be, like beauty, one of perspective. If that is so then justice is something that can never be understood until all emotions have cooled. The Hatfields and McCoys of American folklore is an example of ongoing searches for justice tainted by emotion.

I think the Palestinian conflict has become yet another example of revenge becoming the image of justice.

There may be no real justice in the world.

9 comments:

Embee said...

I have to agree with you that justice is a matter of perspective, and I suspect that my perspective would be significantly different than that of those involved in any way with the 9/11 incident and subsequent legal/military debacle. In this particular situation it seems that justice quickly slid down the slippery slope and morphed into revenge. Act first, ask questions later. I truly feel for those families, and hope that they can someday find peace, whether or not they ever get "justice."

Douglas said...

Embee - Yes, peace is what we should seek, not vengeance. Of course, the guys who blew up the Cole, the ones who blew up the embassies in Africa, and the ones who hi-jacked the planes on 9/11 thought they were seeking justice too.

Alan said...

Like terash and treasure, right. One person's justice is anothers outrage.

Alan

Embee said...

That's true. That only reinforces the fact that justice is only a matter of perception!

generic Brand said...

Unfortunately, justice nor peace will ever come to this world, unless you believe in the rapture or second coming of Christ or some other religious beacon of hope. Humans are too stubborn to give any ground on "their perspective". Walking in the other person's shoes is a nice sentiment, but nobody lives by that rule, which is sad.

Doctors who can not control every element of a live birth are blamed and sued for a miscarriage during labor. People either recieve lenient or harsher penalties in court because some extra information came out about the victim.

It's a pathetically greedy and self-centered world we live in, but it all starts with one person putting someone else first instead of themselves.

Michael said...

I'm not sure why, but this post makes me want to inquire: what are your views on bipartisanship? Good? Bad?

Michael.

Douglas said...

Michael - I am not sure what bi-partisanship is. Is it the working out of a compromise (or series of compromises)? Or is it the acquiescence of one party to the other? My own personal view is a give and take resulting in a compromise that does not severely undermine the principles of either side. The issue of good or bad depends upon the outcome as well as the definition.

The lynch mob might disagree along the way but finally hang someone in a spirit of bi-partisanship. Good or bad? (reference "The Ox-bow Incident")
Or see "12 Angry Men" for a more positive outcome.

We can only see the answers in retrospect.

Michael said...

Ah, I misunderstood what it means.

What I wanted to ask was what do you think of the existence of two-party systems? Like the US and the UK have.

In Hong Kong, we sort of have three, but there's a lot of others as well. I'm not too sure.

Is it better to just have one system? Or is it better to have multiple ones, and have these elections every so-and-so years?

Michael.

Douglas said...

Michael - In theory, both the UK and the US have multi-party systems; not simply 2 party ones. What has evolved, over time, is that the US and the UK have developed two dominant political parties each. And, in both cases, the parties represent two major political ideologies: conservative and liberal. But these are not fixed positions. For example, the conservative labeled party may be slightly left of center to strong right. And the ideology shifts according to power shifts within the party.
Your other question is a value judgment. And it is one I cannot make. Single party systems are politically (and sometimes socially) more efficient. However, they can easily become repressive. It depends upon the dynamics of the party. Multi-party systems are less efficient (it increases the opportunity for political conflict) but are are seen as more democratic.
Personally, I think the average human being doesn't care much about what form his government takes so long as it addresses the perceived need of the moment (natural disaster, war, economic turmoil, infra-structure needs, etc) in a timely manner and otherwise leaves him alone to pursue his personal goals in life.

Government, in many ways, is like parents. You want them when you need them, you feel reassured if they are around, uneasy if they are not, and worry that they have too much power over your life.