Posts Tagged ‘justice’

Crime is not indivdualistic

February 7, 2015

(A) crime is not committed only against the victim but primarily against the community whose law is violated.

Telford Taylor, New York Times Magazine, quoted in Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, Penguin: 1994, p.261

Likewise, a breach of love for neighbour is a breach of the law of God. Justice is not served merely by doing justice for the former without the latter.

Mercy

September 9, 2009

Paulina Escobar (Weaver) is a housewife married to a prominent lawyer in an unnamed South American country. One day a storm forces her husband Gerardo (Wilson) to ride home with a kind stranger. That chance encounter brings up demons from her past, as she is convinced that the stranger, Dr. Miranda (Kingsley), was part of the old fascist regime and that he tortured and raped her while she was blindfolded. Paulina takes him captive to determine the truth. Despite attempts by both her husband and Miranda to convince her that he is innocent, Paulina is certain that he is the one, and forces her husband to be Miranda’s “attorney” in the “trial” she arranges for him.

Miranda conspires with Gerardo to agree to a false confession (as Paulina states that that is all she wants in exchange for his life), so they write one up and present it to Paulina. Enraged, Paulina deems Miranda as being unrepentant, and threatens to kill him. As Gerardo tries to stop her, Miranda succeeds in getting Paulina’s gun, and threatens to kill her if he is not freed. As he advances toward the door, Paulina hits him and after a struggle gets back in control. In a last-ditch effort to save his life, Miranda implores Gerardo to call the place where he claims to have been at the time of Paulina’s rape as she leads him blindfolded out the door to the edge of the cliff. Gerardo contacts the hospital, and the story is confirmed and he races to inform Paulina, at last convinced that Miranda is innocent. However, it is revealed that the doctors at that time created alibis in order to conceal their identities, and so Paulina rejects this as false. Accepting defeat, Miranda finally tells them that he really was the doctor, that he enjoyed brutalizing Paula, and that he was sorry that the old regime fell.

Enraged, Gerardo attempts to throw Miranda from the cliff only to realize he cannot bring himself to take a life. Paulina apparently accepts the confession, and they both leave Miranda on the cliff as he stares down at the water. In the final scene, Paulina and Gerardo are at the same concert where the film began with Miranda also present, looking down with his wife and sons. They cast uncomfortable glances at each other.

Death and the Maiden

Gerardo shows the mercy that Miranda never had. Miranda deserved to be executed but did not get what he deserved.

The King is Law

September 4, 2009

In truth, the action of the Fuehrer was pure justice. It is not subject to the law; instead, it was the highest law.

Carl Schmidt, Hamburg, 1940.

There was, supposedly, no one to whom Hitler was accountable, no norm or standard of Justice to which his actions could or should be tested.

The Appeal to Force – The Consequences of Relativism

September 2, 2009

Thrasymachus: justice is nothing else than the interests of the stronger…

…There is no question of proving or disproving; the only question is whether you like the kind of State that Plato desires. If you do, it is good for you; if you do not, it is bad for you. If many do and many do not, the decision cannot be made by reason, but only by force, actual or concealed.

Plato’s Republic, Book 1

Without belief in objective justice, all that is left is power. Ironically it is postmodern theory, which shouts out that truth claims are power claims, that opens the door to a covert or overt dictatorship.

If relativism is so, then there is not reason to attempt to persuade others of the truth. The voters, those with power and influence,a re there to be manipulated.

Limits of human justice

September 2, 2009

Richard Lichtheim, when he heard of the deportation of the Jews to concentration camps, was concerned that the perpetrators be judged for their actions. But he added: ‘no force on earth can stop them (the Nazis)…’Announcements lately made that the perpetrators would be punished after the war have of course no effect. Also there is no adequate punishment for those crimes.

Martin Gilbert, The Holocaust, p.450

The Man of Sorrows in Plato

September 2, 2009

…the just man, the man of true simplicity of character who, as Aeschylus says, wants ‘to be and not to seem good.’ We must, indeed, not allow him to seem good, for if he does he will have all the rewards and honours paid to the man who has a reputation for justice, and and we shall not be able to tell whether his motive is love of justice or love of the rewards and honours. No, we must strip him of everything except his justice, and our picture of him must be drawn in a way diametrically opposite to that of the unjust man (i.e. who is reckoned to be just when he is really on the make). Our just man must have the worst reputations for wrongdoing even though he has done no wrong, so that we can test his justice and see if it weakens in the face of unpopularity and all that goes with it; we shall give him an undeserved and life-long reputation for wickedness, and make him stick to his chosen course until death…the just man as we have pictured him, will be scourged, tortured, and imprisoned, his eyes will be put out, and after enduring every humiliation he will be crucified.

Plato (Glaucon), The Republic, 361c-362a

The heart of darkness

August 29, 2009

In the aftermath of the Omagh bombing (15.8.98) in which 28 people died and over 200 were injured, the Daily Mirror front page (17.8.98) had pictures  of the victims with this caption:

Those cowards responsible have lost their right to be members of the human race and so too those who try to justify their actions.’

But the perpetrators, despite their despicable actions,  are still human beings. And this fact makes their evil all the more shocking. By removing them from (our) human race we distance ourselves from the evil that lies within each heart – our own included. By denying them their humanity, we wish to insulate ourselves from the awful truth that we too have hearts of darkness.

Right without might is helpless, might without right is tyrannical.

August 25, 2009

Right without might is challenged, because there are always evil men about. Power without justice is to be condemned. Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just Right tends to be debatable, while power is recognizable and cannot be disputed. Therefore it is impossible to give power to justice, because power has tended to repudiate justice and declare it to be unjust and has instead argued that power itself is just. Thus being unable to make right into might, we have made might into right.

Pascal

Generosity to the poor

August 24, 2009

As Whitefield rode with a friend through the wild Border country…they met a widow woman whose goods were about to be distrained for debt, so George gave her five gold guineas. His friend remonstrated, saying it was more than he could afford – the reply, ‘When God brings a case of distress before us, it is that we may relieve it.’

They rode on into the hills. A highwayman sprang out at them, pistole cocked. They had no escape. The highwayman cantered off with the pockets of their pockets – was it not better that the widow had those five guineas than the thief? Then the highwayman returned demanding George’s coat in return for his tattered garment. Ten minutes later they heard hooves coming again but they fled reaching safety – inside the coat was a purse containing a hundred guineas!

John Pollock, George Whitefield, pp.185-186

Forgiveness Demands that Justice be done

August 22, 2009

No words of mine can ever express the deep remorse and regret I feel for what I was involved in over a quarter of a century ago and for the unpardonable length of time it took me to find the courage and decency to confess my part in those crimes.

I shall forever carry the scars I sustained through the wounds I inflicted, whether in prison or outside.

But I do believe that God has forgiven me, and I try not so much to look at the past, but to the present and the future.

When Mrs Johnson, the mother of Keith Bennett, wrote to me in 1986, I was devastated by the first realisation of just how desperately those families of the children still missing were suffering.

Followed as this was, by what I believe was a purely coincidental visit by Greater Manchester Police, I knew that I had no choice for the sake of those families and my own peace of mind – even for my salvation – but to confront what I had done and confess, and to attempt some kind of reparation in addition to my imprisonment.

Whilst I still feel the pain of my guilt, I also know I cannot turn back the clock, and that I can do no more than I have already tried to do.

I am still in contact with the family who, in spite of what the media would have people believe, know that I will never cease to help them in any way I can.

I can only say that it is my hope that I will be treated with the same fairness and justice as would any other life sentence prisoner, however difficult.

Myra Hindley, who died 15/11/02 BBC

It’s hard to read these words without considering whether she is sincere. And for Christian theology it raises the fact that forgiveness, not just hers but ours too, can never be a violation of justice.

If there is not justice for the despicable crimes she committed, then forgiveness is sentimentality at best – an obscenity at worst.