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17 June 2005 @ 12:02 pm
Justice...  


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.
 
 
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
 
 
 
fresnefresne on June 17th, 2005 08:18 pm (UTC)
What I find interesting about the Shaivo case is how little attention has been paid the role her bolemia had in her physical condition by the pundits.

So, then does the line not only fall with not calling quickly enough? Are her family members responsible for not staging an intervention? What responsiblity must people take for their own well being?

Interesting questions that I'm guessing will be addressed in journals, but not be mentioned in the media.
Sandpanthersandpanther on June 17th, 2005 09:02 pm (UTC)
The latest information I read is that the autopsy indicated that her collapse probably wasn't caused by a potassium imbalance. So it's possible that the bolemia may not have played a role in her fate. (Of course, now that I go to refresh my memory on exactly what the article said, I can't find it. Grr.)

But yes. Interesting question indeed. Should we start pointing fingers earlier? Or does one person become responsible for another only when that person is no longer able to be responsible for themselves? (Or, on the other hand, should the other person be responsible at all? Is the Good Samaritan still allowed a choice, or is every Philistine who passes by without rendering aid thereby a murderer? How much free choice is the law allowed to take?)


The news media rarely mentions any of the really interesting stuff. It would comfort me if it was because the media is trying to be manipulative. But I think that it's more likely that the media simply doesn't understand the bigger picture associated with the stories that they report. It's frustrating, since then people only discuss surface issues, without any real understanding of what the real meat of the situation is.

(This, combined with the urge for news reporters to editorialize without stating that they are giving an editorial has led to my no longer watching the evening news. It resulted in too many cases where I found myself shouting at the TV, "You're too stupid to be qualified to give an opinion on this. Grow a brain, and quit editorializing when you're too stupid to be able to!" Fortunately I usually change the channel before the situation degenerates into my either throwing things at the TV, or getting stuck in a mantra of "shut up, shut up, you don't know anything you stupid fool, shut up!")
Steffan Thomasrhylar on June 17th, 2005 08:33 pm (UTC)
There was a reasonably good op/ed piece in the chron on the same subject. no real conclusion was found, just lots of questions.

Their question, related to the retrial of an 80yr old wheelchair bound Klansman for the deaths of 3 election workers in 1960's Mississippi, was is revenge worth it.

In this case, prevention is moot, as the defendant is almost certainly not going to commit any serious crime ever again, and the terrorist organization, and the cause they espoused, is nearly completely dead. (but perhaps not as dead as those of us who live in a cosmopolitan environment would like to believe)

So, why try him?

As a symbol for how we have changed as a nation?
As a desire for vengeance?

And yet, I cant rationalize not trying him, when there are still Americans who think that politics is a good reason to break the law. And how do we deal with people who are hiding behind "just enforcing the law" to score political points.
Steffan Thomasrhylar on June 17th, 2005 08:44 pm (UTC)
oh, and one more thing.

about someone not acting vs killing someone:

imagine coming home and finding your spouse/parent/child injured or dead. Would you be able to act rationally? sure, the rational thing is to call 911, and start CPR. I think I'd try, but I might just break down. Until I've been in that situation, I won't know.

(and the 1 time I did call 911, I didn't get an answer for 20 minutes. long time to be doing CPR, and listening to the phone)