Today I am pondering my own personal thoughts on justice. This is inspired by Batman Begins, and this article regarding yet more hoopla on the Terry Schiavo saga.
I am, in general, a pretty darn lawful person. Yeah, I have a few blind spots in the area of certain traffic laws (*cough*speeding*cough*). But I'm also someone who will usually wait until I get a walk signal before crossing the street even if there are not cars coming. So, yeah, pretty lawful. Laws are cool. They keep us from all killing each other. Rules allow people to peacefully coexist while still pursuing their own intersts and aims. And people who don't play by the rules need to either Go Away, or be convinced that playing by the rules is best.
And then I read that the Govenor of Florida is asking for a probe into why Terry Schiavo's husband may have waited between 40 and 70 minutes before calling for help after finding her passed out, on the day when, unknown to the rest of the country, the whole issue began. And my first thought is, "Why bother? She's dead. She has, for all intents and purposes, been dead for a very long time now. There's nothing more to be done here."
And yet... I believe that justice should be brought to wrongdoers. If there is a reasonable cause for suspecting that something unlawful occured, shouldn't it be investigated? Does my own personal code of ethics bend when my levels of irritation and being fed up rise? I should be on the side callling for justice to be done, and an investigation be carried out to condemn or clear. But I am not.
I think what bothers me about it is that this no longer seems a case of pursuing justice, but rather of pursuing revenge. From my perspective, it seems more like the purpose of this investigation is to prove that Terry's husband is a murderer who wanted her dead (because he pulled the plug on her, ending years of a vegatative life) rather than to determine if any real wrongdoing occured. That's not justice. The time when justice should care has long passed. But revenge forgets more slowly.
How high a price should be paid for justice? And when does it cease to be justice, and instead become revenge masquarading as due process of law?
(Did I just watch Batman Begins last night? Why, yes. How can you tell?)
"I'm not going to kill you, but that doesn't mean I have to save you either."
Is it important at this late date to know what happened in those seemingly missing minutes? If he had called for help earlier, could Michael Schiavo have prevented irreperable harm from befalling his wife? Was his apparent lack of action actually a crime? Does not saving someone cross over the line to actually causing their death?
It's something to ponder. I suspect that since the entire Schiavo circus is entering the media again that we will have many opportunities to think through our personal view on where the lines should be drawn.