Vengeance And Justice

Ore : 10:18 AM

This story, brought to my attention by Majikthise, about ex-cons being kept with current cons and refused evacuation under their own recognizance, touches on something I think about a lot from time to time. On the surface, it's yet another example of people in authority abusing the power afforded them because they encounter no resistance. What bothers me is that fault in our society: the reason why there is no resistance.

Whether it's witholding the right of those who've served their sentences to vote, or requiring those who've at last paid their debt to society as directed by law to forego other rights, or something even more dangerous and sinister, as what's happening above, there seems to be a tacit agreement among the body politic that the formerly convicted and sentence deserve worse than a "normal" citizen. It is clear that we the people have a seriously problematic tendency to supplant justice with vengeance.

If the distinction between those two concepts really is that hard for someone to grok, allow me to posit a certain rule of thumb: if a reaction "feels" like justice, if it provides a deep emotional, almost visceral satisfaction, watch out: chances are, it isn't justice. It's vengeance.

Although my thoughts aren't forming themselves too well today, it occurs to me that that rule of thumb may be corollary to the idea that when trying to decide whether something is vengeance or justice, one might want to ask: does this punitive reaction benefit me and/or the victims, or does it benefit society as a whole?

Of course, this is all spitting in the wind vis-a-vis that nagging 30% of the country that's fallen too far down the rabbit hole, so I'll shut up now...

posted by teh l4m3 at 10:18 AM | Permalink |

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