Monday, July 15, 2013

Whorled

I am 53 years old.  I've seen this dance time and time again in my life.  We get mad, we march, we sit, we say, "Hopefully, this will lead to a real and frank discussion on race in this country."  And, for 2 or 3 days, everyone has things to say and platitudes to repeat, and then another "big story" comes along and enflames and distracts passions, and all that's happened is that we have put off the "real and frank" discussion again.

I don't want to sound cynical, though I know I do.  It's just that I've been through this and been through this and been through this, and will undoubtedly go through it again.
  
Don't misunderstand me.  There can be change.  There has been change.  But "No Justice, No Peace" may have worn out its welcome.  And think about that message: if we don't get justice, as we define it, we will continue to disrupt and yell.  Folks, peace is precisely what you want.  You have to want change to come with dignity, with confidence, serenely and powerfully.

And what about "justice"?  It seems to me that, somewhere, somehow, we began equating "justice" with "punishment."  They are not the same.  To bring someone to justice means to place someone into the justice system.  That's it.  Then the system, flaws and all, decides whether or not there should be punishment.  When people say, "There was no justice for so-and-so," what they're actually saying is "I didn't get the outcome I wanted from this trial."  And there is nothing wrong with that.  BUT SAY THAT.

Yes, the justice system is a mess.  But the justice system operates based on law.  Whatever laws a city, county, state or nation pass is what the system has to operate with, in, and from.  If laws are written poorly, or with obvious disregard for some citizens, or if laws are written for the benefit of some citizens, trial results are going to show that.  Because juries must decide cases based on the law.  Nothing else*.  Not round-the-clock punditry.  Not information or behavior that we, outside of the trial, may see or hear, but they, inside the proceedings, cannot and do not.

Laws come from legislatures.  If you are displeased with, or unhappy with, or mad about the result of a trial, or the arrest/non-arrest of a person, or the inequities in sentences, YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.  Change your legislatures.  VOTE.  Direct your indignation at the people who put these laws into place (sometimes, under cover of darkness or by procedural sleight-of-hand.)  Verdicts, somewhere along the line, got placed into that repulsive "Who Won/Who Lost" mindset.  That mentality probably doesn't belong in the courtroom, but it is plainly --- manifestly plainly --- the mindset in legislatures and among legislators.  "Did our party win?"  "Did we beat those awful people who don't think like we do?"  "Am I going to win re-election?"  Defeating individual legislators who have put shameful laws into motion is a brilliant start to healing all the woes that follow from those statutes.





*http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/07/trayvon-martin-and-the-irony-of-american-justice/277782/



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