Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Few Thoughts on Justice

Justice, like beauty, seems to lie in the eyes of the beholder, or recipient.  This weekend the news was abuzz with reports of a 20-year old Stanford University swim team member who received a six-month sentence for sexual assault of an unconscious woman.  His father’s statement to the court noted his son’s life was “forever altered” and that alone was a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of poor conduct in 20 plus years of life.  Apparently the judge agreed, and gave the offender a slap on the wrist sentence. 

The media has picked up the story and the obvious wrong done to the victim.  In their reporting they bring up a couple of valid points that highlight the erosion of our legal system, and why social unrest grows.  We are supposed to be equal under the law.  That has probably never been 100% true, but it seems the inequality grows each day. 

If the assailant had been black would he have received a six-month sentence?  We can speculate, but I am guessing he would not have, and it would not have been in a county jail.

If the assailant had been a woman would there have even been a trial?

How about if the victim had been a man?  Would the state seek a six-year of term in prison?

In simpler times the punishments were equally problematic. Do we brand him, stone him, dunk him, put him in the stockade, or banish him?  Unfortunately, in most civilizations the woman was usually held responsible.  We seem to be moving beyond that, although many still seek to justify their vicious behavior with that defense. 

It would be really great if Justice was, as she is depicted, blind.  Seeking to balance the rights of all concerned.

For those who call for a harsher sentence, what is the right answer?  While I completely agree the father’s pleading that the young man can educate his peers is pure BS – I don’t know how to balance the punishment with the crime.  The woman will be emotionally damaged (scarred) for a long time, if not for life.  The assailant will now be a convicted sex-offender, who I assume will have to register with police whenever he moves, for the rest of his life.  Neither party will ever put this behind, and this is just one of hundreds of like events that occur each day.

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