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.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


I hear a lot of calls for it. But I wonder about it. What is justice? I think it is different things to different people but, in general, when someone is demanding "justice" they really mean they want revenge.

Justice in the old west was often a lynching. A mob would form, the criminal grabbed, and then dragged off to the nearest tree to be placed on a horse (or the back of a bukboard) with a noose of some sort around his neck. In the end, the criminal was hanged by the neck and died. "Justice" was done. No trial, no appeals, no legal niceties, just swift and sure revenge. It wasn't pretty and is no longer the punishment of preference. We like trials and the judicial process and what once meant a death sentence (murder, rape, cattle rustling, and horse stealing) no longer ends in any kind of a death sentence.

I hear about demands for justice in the case of Michael Brown and I wonder what those are really calls for. I understand the anguish over the death of an unarmed young man but I do not see what the demands really mean. I think they are the results of frustration because the police officer was not indicted by the grand jury in that case. But isn't that justice? Sometimes, killers go free. Sometimes, criminals do not suffer any punishment for their crimes. Sometimes, because of mistakes by the police or prosecutors, criminals go free.

In the case in question, the police officer has resigned. His career was over anyway and it is unlikely he would be hired by any other police department anywhere in the country. His life has been destroyed. Isn't that justice? Yes, he's still alive and Michael Brown is dead but the cop cannot work in his chosen field and may have to move to another state and hope he fades into obscurity to ever get a job anywhere. In addition, his family will suffer and they were surely innocent.

And, what if he had been indicted and then acquitted (as Trayvon Martin's killer was), would those calling for justice have given up and accepted that result? I suspect not.

So what is justice anyway? What do you call justice? Justice may be privided but we might not recognize or accept it. Justice will never bring the dead person back to life and will not likely heal the scars the victim suffers and we may never understand it.


Joe Pereira said...

Douglas, I think in Michael Brown's case, had the policeman apologised, or even just showed a bit of remorse at killing an unarmed youth (which he should have done in my opinion) or even some comforting word such as regret for the misjudgement, the case would not create as much anger as it has. But ultimately, cops in a nation where every crook can get hold of a firearm, will be nervous and trigger happy.

Douglas said...

I don't know what he said in the interview with ABC(?) but I suspect he didn't apologize for any misjudgment. He had been attacked by the rather big, but unarmed, youth for merely telling him to get out of the street and on the sidewalk. I realize Brown can no longer make an apology but, if he had survived the encounter, do you think he might have apologized for his misjudgment? And do you think anyone would have said "That's okay" or accepted any regret that the officer had?