The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘justice’ Category

ISLAM AND IMMIGRATION

Long before there was an organization known as ISIS, I read about the way that people who are adjudicated criminals in the majority of Muslim countries are handled within the Sharia code of justice.  Application of this law to offenders of whatever description seems to our Western minds to be harsh.  And it certainly is swift.

Caught for stealing … have your hand cut off.

Caught in adultery … get stoned to death.

Caught questioning the religious authority … get 1000 lashes – if you survive for the full term of the punishment.

Caught in a same sex relationship … get thrown from a building, stoned to death or beheaded.  (I’m not sure if the soon-to-be-deceased gets to pick which way to make his exit).

I remember thinking to myself, you know, I don’t think I would even consider jaywalking in Riyadh – or most of the rest of the Muslim world.  By the way, jaywalking is also a punishable offence – and it is punished through the imposition of fines.  Presumably that is an effort to make the streets safer both for drivers and pedestrians.  And please, no snarky comments about “women drivers” since Saudi Arabia does not allow women the privilege of being able to obtain a driver’s license.

Beginning this year, King Abdullah has allowed women the right both to vote and to run for minor public office.  But if one of the requirements to be able to vote is proving identity by presenting a driver’s license, well the ladies of Saudi Arabia may be back in the same second class status that they’ve had bestowed on them for over a millennium.

Singapore has an even higher rate of executions than Saudi Arabia – most of which were effected through hanging – and the majority of those for what the authorities define as drug trafficking.  (The typical person who patronizes his neighborhood Colorado pot shop would be able to buy a sufficient quantity of marijuana to qualify them as traffickers under Singapore’s definition).  But there are also lesser offenses which we would consider trivial – such as failure to flush a toilet (who would do that) and chewing gum subjects the chewer to a fine of five hundred dollars.  Sorry about that Mr. Wrigley.

I realize that laws, by whomever and wherever they are made, are designed to be punitive. That is, to my mind a fundamental flaw – offering only the meting out of punishment rather than a reward for good behavior.  As an example that I’ve proposed in the past, rather than simply fining the driver who breaks the law by giving him a ticket, how about providing an incentive to the good driver who does not weigh on the local police’s time and never gets a ticket by reducing the cost of annually registering his vehicle.  That might, I can’t say with certainty as it’s never been tried and is unlikely ever to be tried, encourage and incentivize each of us who drives to follow the rules.  Over many years of running my own business, I always found that the carrot rather than the stick approach did more to motivate my employees.

But returning to Saudi Arabia and the punishments which that government feels merits the death penalty is one with which we are becoming all too familiar.  And that crime is called “terrorism.”  Although Bo(Peep)Bama has officially referred to ISIS (ISIL by the administration’s terminology) as a terrorist organization, he and his mouthpieces still refuse to label it for what it is – Islamic terrorism.  But if we play along with BoBama’s definition, anyone who engages in terroristic activity which is the “use of force to achieve political or social ends” is therefore a terrorist.  Whether they are an avowed ISIS member or not.  And clearly it would be in the interest of all the residents of the United States to be certain that before a person gains entry into the country we make sure that person has come here with no ill intention.

The oath of allegiance which is required to be sworn to by naturalized citizens is as follows (my bolding):

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Liberal pundits like Geraldo Rivera and Juan Williams have tried to make the argument that illegals in the United States actually commit crime at a lower rate than American citizens.  That argument is, of course, poppycock since by the very act of being here illegally in the first place, each and every one of them has already broken the law.  That is, by my math, a rate of one hundred percent who are lawbreakers.

Certainly there are extreme cases where people are fearful of threats to their lives in their countries of origin – and we ought to treat those exceptional cases with both expediency and compassion and waive our rules.  Strangely, I have not heard of calls from either side of the aisle offering the Yazidis of Iraq who were driven from their home’s by ISIS a sanctuary in the United States.

It would be hard for anyone to argue that of the estimated twelve million illegal aliens in the United States the majority of  these were people who would qualify for a compassionate exception to our present immigration policy.  That doesn’t mean that they are bad people.  Perhaps they didn’t understand the process – or perhaps the process, mired as it is in bureaucratic red tape – was just too onerous for them to feel the need to wait.  And without a doubt, many of these people and their children would be excellent additions to the populace and citizenry of the United States.  Personally, I would support a long term path to citizenship for these people.  After all, by one means or another, most of us are the children of people who either immigrated here of their own free will – or were imported in the slave trade.

But it is equally clear, the shooting death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco last week by an illegal who had been five times deported is not an isolated incident.  There is an element of our illegal population that is criminal and has a background in illicit behavior not only in their home countries but here as well.  And there are a significant number of these criminals who have been deported multiple times and have found a way to return.  In my view, by placing economic duress on our economy, diverting our law enforcement people to devote resources to dealing with them and in many cases incarcerating them, they are engaging in economic terrorism as well as violent crime.

Do we have the right to protect the nation, by any means possible, from those who would attack us in acts of terror?  No.  We have that as a responsibility.  So here’s a rather draconian but potentially effective way of dealing with this issue.

If we apprehend a person who enters the country illegally and deport that person, we should give him or her a warning that if that person returns to the country, other than through legal means, that person will, if apprehended a second time, be summarily executed as a foreign combatant and terrorist.  No trials.  No appeals.  No exceptions.

One of my former employees came from Polish immigrant stock.  She was a no nonsense kind of person who worked hard and expected to be paid for her efforts – and she was.  And when she opened her own office for me she had no compunction about dismissing an employee who did not perform to the standards which we and she had set and to which they had agreed before being hired.  As she put it, “When you play – you pay.”

Maybe it’s time we applied that same standard to illegal immigration.

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BLOWING SMOKE

If it weren’t for Grand Jury decisions, we might have to focus our attention on Reality TV and Attorney General Holder would have to find other matters which he could address as he heads for the exit.  Actually, if it weren’t for our citizens who break laws, we would have no need for Grand Juries in the first place.  Blessed are the lawless for they shall be called our diversion of the day.

Eric Garner died because he was being apprehended for committing a misdemeanor offense, selling individual untaxed cigarettes on the street without a vendor’s license and the appropriate permitting, and then resisting arrest.  Now the marches commence in New York, protesting his unfortunate death – or more precisely the failure of a Staten Island Grand Jury to return a “True Bill” indicting the NYPD officer who was instrumental in bringing this corpulent man to the ground after he refused to comply with police orders.  Had Garner not engaged in this business in violation of the law, he would be alive today.  But he is portrayed as a victim – and perhaps he is.

With the plethora or laws, rules and regulations that regularly spew from the pulpits of our legislative bodies intended to make sure that we are kept safe from inflicting harm upon ourselves and others (and which incidentally bring in scads of money so that those who make the laws have plenty of cash so that they can continually enact more laws which require more people to write more rules and even more people to turn those into regulations), each of us is probably in violation of some law, rule or regulation which we did not know even existed.  In Mr. Garner’s case, ignorance was not an issue as he had been arrested nine times previously for committing exactly the same offense and twenty-two times for other infractions.

But it is fair to ask, in the greater scheme of things, is selling a loose cigarette on the street a “crime” of the same magnitude as stealing a car, beating up an old woman and snatching her handbag, raping a fourteen year old or murdering someone?  I think we would all agree that Mr. Garner’s offense was pretty minor – and our police departments would better serve our communities focusing their attention on crimes that are a serious threat to the common good.  But there’s that nasty law on the books banning the activity in which Mr. Garner engaged and the police are required to enforce it.  Otherwise, they would certainly be accused of dereliction of duty.

Sen. Rand Paul (R – KY) may rightly point to the true cause of Mr. Garner’s death as being the politicians who micro-manage our lives, have raised the taxes levied on a pack of cigarettes in New York to the highest in the country and created the economic environment which makes engaging in selling “loosies” a modestly lucrative business.  Those in positions of public office who believe they know better for us than we ourselves, will undoubtedly miss the point of the senator’s comments.  Missing the point has become the platform for many of them.

This death, together with the death of Michael Brown have caused these same politicos (and their supporters who apparently have no jobs to which they can go and thus the time to demonstrate) to raise the question of the fairness of the justice system.  That is a reasonable question and one which we should re-examine periodically to insure that justice is indeed blind but fair.  According to those chanting their mantras in New York and elsewhere, the system is biased against black Americans – Mr. Garner being its latest victim.  The call was taken up by Mayor Bill de (Blah Blah) Blasio in citing centuries of racial prejudice – although it is as unclear in this case as in Brown’s that any racial element exists other than that both of the lawbreakers happened to be African-Americans.

Ironically, word is on the street that Mr. Garner’s widow is contemplating filing a “wrongful death” suit against the city to the tune of $75 Million – an amount that might realistically exceed the late Mr. Garner’s lifetime earnings potential by about $75 Million.  Of course, the lawyers in the sharkskin suits are all probably salivating at the potential of collecting their third of whatever amount will be awarded – and there is no doubt there will be a judgment in some amount in her favor.  This is the “zakat” that all Americans must pay for the injustices of two centuries past – or at least that seems to be the thematic basis for liberal thinking.  And it will ultimately be awarded by the same “unfair” justice system against which the protestors demonstrate.

Fortunately for the City of New York, when a judgment comes down in Mrs. Garner’s favor, the politicians can simply float yet another bond issue to cover the amount of the award.  Or they can just raise the excise tax on cigarettes a few cents a pack to take care of it.

YOU DIDN’T BUILD THIS

TO THE RIOTERS IN FERGUSON, MO:

YOU DIDN’T BUILD THIS:

 

 

OR THIS:

 

Ferguson

 

BUT YOU DID DESTROY THE LIVES AND LIVELIHOODS OF THE PEOPLE WHO DID.

 

Photo courtesy of the NY Post

 

YOU MUST FEEL VERY PROUD

WHITHER GOEST THOU, AMERICA?

As I write this we are within moments of learning the decision by a Grand Jury in Missouri.  It is as though this one verdict is the most important declaration ever to be pronounced.  To those poised to protest this panel’s expected decision it has significance far more sweeping than Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation” and it has rewritten the Beatitudes.  “Blessed are the troublemakers.”  Most likely there will be violence.  It is expected.  It is planned.  It is an American tragedy.

The Founders recognized that only if the law were applied equally to everyone  would there be the possibility of achieving the Declaration’s proclamation that each of us is entitled to enjoy “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  That was as true at the founding of the nation as it is today.  And it is probably also true that while that goal is admirable, it has never been fully achieved.  That is not a condemnation of this lofty objective but rather a statement about us and how we allow our self-interest to corrupt the ideal.

The judicial system is an integral part of the political system.  Whether the voters directly elect those who are responsible for trying us if we are alleged to have committed an offence or are appointed by those whom we have elected to serve the municipality, state or the nation as a whole, judges are as much political by nature of their office as are our mayors and congressmen.  The Founders recognized that in describing the judiciary as one of three co-equal branches of government.

Of course, before a person is brought to trial there are others who are involved in the process which resulted in a hearing before the bar of justice.  Those are, at the first level, the law enforcement officers who apprehended the accused.  While there are undoubtedly some who discharge that office inappropriately, we rely on our police forces to help maintain some reasonable semblance of safety in society.  By and large, the occasional “rogue” officer who abuses his or her authority and sworn duty are the exception rather than the rule.  To attribute regular unlawful behavior to them is to do them a great disservice – and if that attitude is commonplace, then all of society will suffer as a consequence.  Even those with the greatest distrust of police forces, I suspect, if caught in a crossfire by two rival gangs as an innocent bystander, would hope that a squad car would show up on the scene.

Fortunately, like most Americans, I have had very little interaction with the police in my lifetime.  The first time was as a victim of an assault by three perpetrators wielding switchblades.  The second time was after some workmen stole some personal property while making repairs in my apartment.  The third and fourth times were to report the theft of my vehicle.  The fifth through sixteenth times were to report the theft of my car’s radio.  That’s been it.  I’ve never heard a knock on the door asking me my whereabouts at such and such time because I was a suspect in a robbery, an assault or a murder.  My total interaction was as a victim – not as a perpetrator.

In reference to these various episodes, I suppose that I might choose to be bitter because none of those who either assaulted me or stole my property was ever tried for their abuse of the law – at least not as it pertained to my particular interactions with them.  Perhaps they went on to further crimes and were apprehended for those.  I have no way of knowing that.  Should I therefore conclude that my experience demonstrates that the police are worthless?

Sadly, while it is a commonplace way of viewing life, extrapolating from one individual’s personal experience and drawing broad conclusions from it can be a dangerous and biased path to follow.  I know that police forces do indeed apprehend people who have committed more serious crimes than the ones in which I was involved.  I, for one, am glad that they are there – and I’m glad that they’re armed.  There are sociopathic people in this country who break the law and who constitute a threat to those of us who are law abiding.

While we should certainly remove those in our law enforcement offices who abuse their power and responsibilities, whether that is a local law enforcement officer, an attorney, a judge, the Attorney General or President who are ultimately responsible for seeing that the laws generally are enforced, the best advice on how to avoid confrontations with law enforcement might come from comedian, Chris Rock.

 

 

Perhaps Rock’s advice, had it been followed, might have made it so those of us who before August had never heard of Ferguson,MO, would still be living lives of blissful ignrance about its existence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This principle, although probably lost on the majority of those who might protest the Grand Jury’s verdict, is at the heart of the matter.  They are not so much interested in justice as they are in the confirmation that the only justice that is acceptable is the one they dictate.  They look to mete out the vengeance handed out by vigilantes and the KKK to which some of their forefathers were subject.  They view that as proper retribution for the past misdeeds of others – now long gone to the grave.

IGUALA, MX AND FERGUSON, MO

Forty-three Mexican college students, studying to be teachers, were out fund raising for their college – soliciting money to buy supplies for the school.  They were stopped in Iguala by the police and three of them were shot by these same police.  Apparently, the Mayor of Iguala was concerned that the students were planning to disrupt a speech that his wife was scheduled to give.  The surviving students were turned over to a local drug cartel “to be disposed of.”  And the cartel did its job well.

They executed these kids at a trash dump and then the cartel had a “student roast,” burning the bodies in a fire that lasted for sixteen hours – as the cartel members stood by and watched.  Except in the case of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi who was finally released after six months in Mexican prison for inadvertently entering the country while in possession of legally owned weapons, Mexican “justice” can be inexorably efficient, swift – and terminal.

The mayor and his wife were arrested in Mexico City a week after the students disappeared.  He has had several charges leveled against him and  is currently in jail awaiting further processing.  As of this writing, no charges have been brought against his wife.  Although it is only an allegation, there appears that there may be a tie between these two and the local drug cartel.

Subsequent to the students’ disappearance a search began for them.  The announcement by the Mexican Attorney General, Jesús Murillo Karam that the students’ remains had been found resulted in protests throughout the country with tens of thousand marching in peaceful protest against a government that has corruption at its most basic foundation.  Additionally, other protesters with a less pacifistic view of the events, burned government buildings, cars and blocked highways in Guerrero state where these murders occurred.  In the course of the search, several mass graves were discovered – apparently additional victims of the local drug cartels.

It is probably difficult for most Americans to conceive living in a country where the police, rather than occupying a position of “serving and protecting” people actually function as the judiciary and dispatch summary “justice” with impunity.  Difficult unless you believe that is the same system we have in the United States.  And if you turn your attention to Ferguson, MO and the protests that have been ongoing for the last three months you might believe that is the case.

On August 9, 2014, a shooting occurred in Ferguson, MO resulting in the death of Michael Brown.  The deceased was a young black man; the person who shot him was a white police officer, Darren Wilson.  Those are the facts that no one disputes.  The specific circumstances of causality have now been before a Grand Jury for several months and we are awaiting their determination.

I believe it is fair to say that if, under the same set of circumstances a white police officer shot a white teenager; if a black police officer shot a black teenager; and perhaps if a black police officer shot a white teenager, there would have been no lootings in Ferguson, MO; no businesses would have been burned there; neither President Obama nor Attorney General Eric Holder would have expressed an opinion on the event; and the media would have not covered it.

The only reason for interest and the tension that it has evoked has, unfortunately, nothing to do with the late Mr. Brown.  It has to do with race and, more specifically, the allegation that the black community has no reason to have confidence that the police are there to protect them but rather, Mexican style, are self-serving racists whose ultimate goal is their annihilation.  If that theory were in fact true, there would be legitimate reason for concern by the citizens of Ferguson, MO.  There would then be validation for their peaceful protests – although it is hard to understand how committing additional crimes such as lootings and burnings can be justified, efforts to the contrary notwithstanding.

Neither my readers nor I have all the facts and details of what happened between Michael Brown and Officer Wilson.  Hopefully, the Grand Jury will have those presented to them and will make an informed and fair judgment based on what they review.  And, whatever their decision, it is incumbent on those who truly want to live in a country where the rule of law is respected to accept that verdict.  Otherwise we invite upon ourselves a system of “justice” like that which we just saw in Mexico.  And that is something that no intelligent person would bring down on his own head.

We know how that system played out in Mexico.  We’ll soon see how things work out in Ferguson, MO.

LESSONS FROM FAR AND WIDE

What do Hong Kong and Ferguson, MO have in common?  Well, they’ve both been in the news as places where the residents have taken to the streets, protesting against government authorities.  And that’s where their similarity begins and ends.

Hong Kong and Ferguson are 7,934 air miles apart – or at least that was what I determined from a very neat program on the internet.  While I might not fully subscribe to the concept of global warming, I do have much greater faith in Al Gore’s other invention – the internet.  I do remember him saying that it was his creation.

Hong Kong has had a long and often rocky history.  Starting as little more than a local fishing village it became part of the Chinese empire.  Then the British took it over, elevating it to the status of Royal Crown Colony.  Finally, the English negotiated a lease with China and ceded it back to the PRC.  It purportedly holds a quasi-autonomous status.  And that is at the heart of the disturbances by protesters in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong ranks eleventh on the list of countries based on GDP per individual, just behind the United States.  By contrast, mainland China, despite the tremendous economic boom it has seen in the last twenty years ranks ninety-seventh.  That is, obviously, attributable in part to its massive population.  But not only does Hong Kong enjoy greater economic opportunity for its citizens – it offers far more personal freedom than those on the mainland enjoy.  The opportunity to earn more and live a better life is what the turmoil in Hong Kong is all about.

There is probably no mentally healthy person on the planet who wouldn’t want to live an easier, better life.  But there are challenges to achieving that goal.  While a person who has little financial expertise may have difficulty making wise investments which will help him or her achieve a more secure future, that person can get an education in finances or, lacking the desire or ability to do that, can higher an advisor who can guide him.  But the greatest threat to accumulating wealth is something over which none of us has control.  That grim reaper which rapes prosperity is government spending – or put in a one word explanation – taxes.  And it is those whom we elect to public office who determine out tax codes.

A few days ago, President Obama went on Al Sharpton’s radio show, (who knew he even had one) and made what is perhaps the most truthful statement he has uttered while either running for or during his time in office.  Obama, talking about those Democrat candidates in red states running for election to the Senate, all of whom has pretty much eschewed even knowing who he is, said (paraphrase),  “They all support me and my policies.  But they have to say or do what they have to say or do to get re-elected.  I don’t take their distancing themselves from me personally.”

I think all of us hope, perhaps even while believing otherwise, that we can rely on what a candidate promises.  We believe because we want to, that person X or Y will really bring a meaningful, positive change to government.  But the influence which most find once they get to Washington seems almost irresistible and if it doesn’t corrupt by the end of a person’s first term, by the second it seems that the allure of power is something which sweeps virtually all up in its web.  But those who believe in the political process and are hopelessly optimistic, continue to get involved in these contests as they present themselves, perhaps justifying years of disappointment with the thought that, “This time it may be different.”

Perhaps the fairly recent introduction of democratic elections is why those in Hong Kong have shown such ardent fervor in their rejection of the PRC’s position that they and they alone will determine for whom the people of Hong Kong should have the opportunity to vote.  The residents of Hong Kong realize that if they do not have the chance to elect people who share their personal and economic visions which have transformed this small island into a comparative paradise, they may lose what they have worked to achieve and their vision for an even better future will perish.  It is in free elections that they put their stock – even if cynics like myself – wonder if that is really the panacea which will deliver us from the bonds of turpitude and incompetence.

Returning to Ferguson, MO, the protests have been ongoing since Michael Brown’s death on August 9th.  Without trying to adjudicate this case as has been so completely done by the media, the primary cause which is advanced for these protests is that an unarmed black man was gunned down by a white police officer and was “executed.”  The underlying premise is that white policemen routinely feel it is within their purview to dispose of black males with impunity and that such acts are condoned generally by a racist society.

The predominantly black community of Ferguson has demanded that “justice be done,” which translates to “hang the white cop.”  But even though their approach to justice is not dissimilar from the mindset which motivated the Klan during its reign of terror, there is the undertow that even if Officer Wilson is put on trial, that trial is prejudiced to acquit him because justice for whites is far less just than it is for blacks, whites being generally acquitted because of their skin color and blacks being convicted because of theirs.

If we accept this view of the justice system, obviously there is little justice to be rendered for anyone whose skin color is black.  That leaves very few alternatives, one being either to move to another jurisdiction where justice is meted out more equitably; another country where justice is determined more fairly; or change those who are in control of the judicial system, replacing them with people who are more likely to treat everyone equally.  That can only come about through the ballot box – something that residents of Hong Kong seem to comprehend quite well.

Given the fact that most people don’t want to move unless they must, it seems natural that most people would gravitate to the third of the alternatives outlined above.  Yet in Ferguson, only eleven percent of the eligible electorate has even bothered to register to vote.  Several weeks ago there was a big news flash that the number of people in Ferguson who had registered, presumably because of the controversy generated by Michael Brown’s death, had swelled in number.  The Missouri Secretary of State later corrected that statement, citing the fact that they had looked at the wrong data base when they issued that announcement.  In fact, there were now still only 11.6% of the population in that city who had elected to exercise their right to the franchise.

If the citizens of Hong Kong are successful in their efforts to make their voices heard and have the opportunity freely to choose those who represent them, it will be to their credit.  And if the citizens of Ferguson continue to live under what they consider repressive and unfair conditions, they will have no one and nothing to blame but themselves and their own indifference.

AND JUSTICE FOR NONE

Mom was a very bright woman.  Perhaps the greatest bit of wisdom was her statement, “There are three sides to every story – yours, mine and the truth.”

While I prefer to believe that most people are basically honest, there is no doubt in my mind that some people will do or say anything simply to advance their own agendas.  And all of use have, at some point or other, told a fib, a lie or an outright whopper.  Most of those are relatively harmless – but there are times when they can have serious consequences – not only on our own consciences but on others.

Many years ago I found myself in a legal conflict with a person whom I thought of as a friend as well as a colleague and competitor.  This fellow had an executive search assignment and was having difficulty filling the position.  He asked me and my firm to help.  As it happened, we already knew of the position and the office which specialized in IT had been working on it themselves for several weeks.  I was unaware of that until I spoke with my manager in that office.  As I said to my colleague, I would only enter an agreement with him after I had discussed this with the manager of that office since ultimately I left those sorts of arrangements up to the individual office manager.

Without going into the sordid details, we did fill the position and collected the fee.  Contrary to the facts and despite several conversations with this fellow, he decided that he was entitled to half the fee and filed a law suit to collect what he considered his due.

At the bench trial, my colleague’s attorney called one of his employees to testify to the “facts.”  He did so, and I thought his testimony was compelling.  He specifically referred to a conversation that his boss and I had in which he specifically stated that I had agreed to “splitting the fee” which was the very question at issue.  There was only one problem with his testimony.  He was not present at this meeting or any other I had with my friend and his testimony was totally fabricated and fraudulent.  With that “testimony” the plaintiff rested their case.

When I heard him testify, my heart sank and my mouth opened wide.  I could not believe that someone would have the temerity to bald face lie – particularly under oath.  I was about to turn to my attorney and tell her that this false testimony was totally untrue when suddenly she jumped up and moved for a verdict of “immediately dismissal” since the plaintiff had not proven their case.  I didn’t see how, after listening to this damning piece of “evidence” the judge would possibly rule in our favor and grant this request.  But he did.

As the plaintiff had called their various witnesses, I noticed that the judge seemed a bit bored with this case, as though he had an assignment to read a book for school but had no interest in the subject matter but was obligated to read it anyway.  While he rendered a correct verdict, I thought that might be less because he had sorted through and sifted the facts (we had not yet presented our defense) than because he was late for a lunch date at a fancy restaurant.  Perhaps my mother’s statement about the three sides to a story should be revised to, “Yours, mine and expedience.”

There are a number of corollaries between the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and another, earlier case – the murder trial of O. J. Simpson.  In that case, of course, there was a black alleged perpetrator and two white victims.  But that the sense of public opinion was very neatly divided, primarily on racial lines, suggests the comparison.  If you were a black American there was nearly a ninety-nine percent likelihood that you believed O. J. innocent.  If you were a white American you were eighty percent likely to believe him guilty.  And most of the white twenty percent who believed that O. J. was being railroaded were Buffalo Bills fans.

Another similarity between the two cases was that in both instances, the media, sensing the smell of blood in the water and huge ratings, provided us with never ending coverage of the two events.  And they had rightly gauged that they would develop an audience for this story.  The day by day events of the Simpson trial were the subject of more conversation in the office than I would have preferred.  It’s hard for a person to do his job when he’s discussing issues that are totally unrelated to it.

These two trials bring an important point to the foreground.  During the O. J. trial, there were fears among the white community that if he were found guilty, rioting and looting would erupt countrywide.  When the jury voted to acquit, there was a sigh of relief and a groan of disbelief that came from many of my white friends.  In contrast, my black friends almost universally were of the opinion that “justice had been done.”  A later wrongful death civil suit which O. J. lost, suggested that the criminal verdict was not one that was correct.  Subsequent actions on O. J.’s part further suggest that he was not the American icon in which many of us had come to believe.

In Ferguson, MO we are receiving nearly as much coverage by the media as in the earlier trial.  Sadly, we are primarily hearing only one side of the story.  Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown has yet to be heard from.  But we have the governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon (D) joining the chorus of “justice for Michael Brown and his family” with the release of a video calling for justice to be rendered swiftly.

Perhaps that is a disguised call to quell the violence that has been occurring in that community.  Perhaps that is a political statement to appeal to a black electorate that is crucial to his political aspirations in a very purple, even Republican leaning state.  Whatever the reason, the governor’s statement is totally inappropriate.  Should we not have justice rendered to both Michael Brown and his family as well as Officer Wilson?  If we predetermine what “justice” means without having all the facts in evidence, there is likely to be none for any of us.

Reminiscent of the Simpson murder trial, a black female Democrat state representative is on record saying that “If the grand jury (which convened today) does not return an indictment, the violence we have seen in Ferguson will be dwarfed by what will ensue.”  How does a statement like that do other than inflame an already tense situation?  And, more importantly, if one of those grand jurors hears that statement, how might that influence his or her judgment as that person attempts to evaluate the evidence which will be presented?

Thomas More was convicted because of perjured “evidence.”  As a result, he was beheaded.  The following scene from “A Man For All Seasons” briefly describes how he as a lawyer, viewed how laws should be enforced, irrespective of who was involved in the disputation:

 

If we are willing to allow the subversion of what has been the fairest legal system in the world, albeit imperfect, for the purpose of achieving some immediate personal gain, we are inviting disaster on our heads.  That is true whether we do so and justify our actions because of race, religion, sex or for any other reason.  And then, as More asked, when the last law has fallen, where will we take refuge?  We will bring in a state of anarchy of our own making, there will be justice for none and the Devil will have his due.

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