Thursday, June 7, 2012

Legal, illegal, right, wrong, just, and not

We don't live in a black and white world, and the justice systems of the world often don't take that into account, when they do, we are often left feeling that justice hasn't been done.  For instance, America is watching to see if Trayvon Martin's death will be classified a murder or an act of justifiable homicide. At the same time, Marissa Alexander is facing twenty years in prison for firing a warning shot when her ex threatened her and her newborn (but who was not able to invoke Stand Your Ground laws as a defense).  Other places in the world are fighting back against budgets that burden the lower classes with the bulk of the financial burdens of their countries while banks and corporations that helped create this economy do whatever they please.  People are also gearing up for an election cycle which will influence healthcare, women's rights, LGBT rights, and the economy for many years to come.  The lines between just and unjust are blurry; nobody agrees on what is right and what is wrong, and legal or not depends a lot on your bank account balance.

It's not surprising that vigilante justice themes and Distopian warning are popping up in art, music, and literature.  It's less surprising that groups like Anonymous and Wikileaks are struggling to bring to light hidden information. Some of us are hungry to see justice, and there are people who have the tools, means and drive to attempt this themselves.  I have a respect for them while at the same time, I wish they didn't operate outside the law and that there was no need for them.  I read an article recently that Anonymous has begun a shame campaign against pedophiles using Twitter to look for child pornography, and my first reaction was "good". My second was a fear that innocent people could find their lives turned upside down by false accusation.  My third reaction was acceptance; if nobody else will do anything, I have to admire people who will put their freedom at risk to correct a wrong.

I have a healthy respect for the law, when applied fairly and uniformly by people who are not out to further their own interests, but I also have never seen justice done for any of the wrongs that have happened to me that could have been addressed by a court of law.  The idea resonates deeply for me, but in practice, I'm very skeptical of the systems and people involved in the justice systems I've had experience with. It's one of those dichotomies within that make me really struggle to know what I believe outside of on a case by case basis.  Do you have the same tension within you about the idea of justice? How do you reconcile your ideals with the everyday reality of living in an imperfect world?

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