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Sowell on justice, traditional and cosmic

Sowell on justice, traditional and cosmic

In the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial we see outrage and protest among those who think Zimmerman is guilty of something or other, even if the criminal justice system couldn’t quite put its finger on it.

“He racially profiled Trayvon”—although there’s no evidence whatsoever of racial motivations in Zimmerman’s report of Martin’s suspicious behavior, or of racial bias in Zimmerman’s previous life. “He followed Trayvon”—although the evidence is that Zimmerman only did so in the very beginning, and stopped when the dispatcher suggested it. Besides, following someone is no crime. “Zimmerman confronted him”—again, no credible evidence of it, and at any rate no crime if verbal, which is all that seems possible given the evidence. “He’s a wannabe cop,” as though, even if that were true, it would be some sort of actionable offense.

From whence comes this sense of Zimmerman’s guilt? Those race hustlers whose specialty it is to heighten racial animus and perceptions of victimization, and a media which willingly cooperates in distorting the record towards the same aim, have played no small part. But what is the motivation behind those who are more well-intentioned? What do they mean by “Justice for Trayvon”?

In thinking about the answer, one would do well to look at the words of Thomas Sowell, in his 1999 book The Quest for Cosmic Justice. Sowell wrote:

Cosmic justice is not just a higher degree of traditional justice, it is a fundamentally different concept. Traditionally, justice or injustice is a characteristic of process. A defendant in a criminal case would be said to have received justice if the trial were conducted as it should be, under fair rules and with the judge and jury being impartial. After such a trial, it could be said that “justice was done”—regardless of whether the outcome was an acquittal or an execution…In short, traditional justice is about impartial processes rather than either results or prospects…

But this is not what is meant by those people who speak of “social justice.” In fact, rules and standards equally applicable to all are often deliberately set aside in pursuit of “social justice.” Nor are such exceptions aberrations. The two concepts [traditional and “social” justice] are mutually incompatible.

What “social justice” seeks to do is to eliminate undeserved disadvantages for selected groups…[T]his is often done in disregard of the costs of this to other individuals or groups—or even to the requirements of society as a whole.

Don’t like the result of a trial? Call it unjust, even if the process of the law has been applied with scrupulous fairness—or even if, as in the Zimmerman trial, what bias there is seems to favor your side (for example, Angela Corey’s affidavit, which even Alan Dershowitz pointed out was biased—against Zimmerman). The remedy of the anti-Zimmerman “social justice” forces is to advocate applying the law unevenly in order to encourage the outcome they would have preferred, or to change the law in the way they think might end up benefiting their side in future cases. But those who do that need to watch out for another law—that of unintended consequences—because it can come back some day to bite them.

Thus, the unwarranted demonizing of George Zimmerman, and the apologia and justification for Trayvon’s Martin’s own violence during the incident, continue apace, unaffected by a legal process that, if it was skewed at all, was twisted in favor of Zimmerman’s conviction rather than his exoneration.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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jayjerome66 | July 23, 2013 at 9:40 am

Right. You defined how ‘cosmic justice’ operated irrationally against Zimmerman. I’m with you on that. But sometimes cosmic justice is the right societal response. Does the OJ trial ring a bell?

Your kinda sorta on to something in your assessment above, but haven’t quite got there yet.

What’s wrong with profiling when the group being profiled is responsible for most of the crime?

Why not profile every politician?

Common sense has run amok…

    NeoConScum in reply to GrumpyOne. | July 23, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Yep, Grumpy, and it’s illogical, self-destructive and just plain stupid as a sack of rocks NOT to profile. Anybody with a brain attached to their spinal cord profiles.

    Here’s a real simple, common profile for safety: Sunday morning services have finished in a Baptist Church in a black neighborhood here in Winter Park, Florida. Nicely dressed couple and their 2-children head around the corner on the sidewalk headed for their car. Large, male, teenager is headed toward them from about 50-yards with his hands tucked in his hoodie…Any profiling gonna be instantly done by those parents,’Yo?? Duuuhhhh…!

Uncle Samuel | July 23, 2013 at 10:06 am

There are really three types of justice:

Legal justice – Executed by legal code, supposed to be carried out impartially and consistently for the protection of persons, order and peace in a civilized society.

Social justice – Man-made idealistic, but futile attempts to create, enforce or pretend that there can be absolute equality despite differences in human ability, motive, will and life-shaping circumstances/events.

Cosmic justice – The oldest law, that of Reaping = Sowing law in action. A person gets by with a crime, but later shows true colors, gets come-uppance, just desserts, dies due to own fault, or is re-arrested for some other or similar crime.

Examples: OJ, Rodney King, Tawana Brawley, teen burglar in Sandford, FL Retreat at Twin Lakes case (before TMartin shooting) who was released due to age, but was later arrested for same offense.

    Uncle Samuel in reply to Uncle Samuel. | July 23, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Make that Four Types of Justice:

    Street Justice – Farrakhan/New Black Panther/Sharpton or mob rule in which the powerful victimize the weak or anyone who crosses or offends them, which is prevalent in Islamic Thugocracies.

    Holder and Obama have perpetrated the criminal corruption, distortion, abuse and mis-direction of the American System of Jurisprudence and all other agencies of government with cronyism, partisanship, bullying, racism, politicization.

      Uncle Samuel in reply to Uncle Samuel. | July 23, 2013 at 10:24 am

      Moreover, the FL Justice system, though largely Republican, seems as corrupt, distorted and abusive as the Obama/Holder version.

        rantbot in reply to Uncle Samuel. | July 23, 2013 at 11:06 am

        Not really. The Florida system, now that it has wrung Zimmerman through the system, seems to be done with him, as is proper. We can’t yet say the same for the Federal system.

          MarkS in reply to rantbot. | July 23, 2013 at 2:01 pm

          Yeah but adherence to FL law would have prohibited Z from being wrung through the system. IMO Angela Corey makes Obama/Holder appears as pure as choir boys.

      jayjerome66 in reply to Uncle Samuel. | July 23, 2013 at 10:24 am

      You left one out for Obama and Holder: Black McCarthyism.

      Uncle Samuel in reply to Uncle Samuel. | July 23, 2013 at 11:30 am

      On further thought, the Obama/Holder/Corey/Crump system of justice needs to be given a name for clarity’s sake.

      Bastardized Justice – When the law and justice are perverted, corrupted, abused, misdirected and usurped by a group for their own agenda and/or enrichment. This is frequently done in third world dictatorships and communist/totalitarian oligarchies.

      Bastardized Justice seems to be first or second nature to Obama/Holder/Corey/Crump and their coterie of petty, spiteful little social engineers with JDs.

    jayjerome66 in reply to Uncle Samuel. | July 23, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Cosmic justice.. More traditionally called Karma.

      Uncle Samuel in reply to jayjerome66. | July 23, 2013 at 10:26 am

      Not everywhere, that’s just one religion.

        Observer in reply to Uncle Samuel. | July 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm

        Not really. It’s a concept that finds expression in many different religions. What the Hindus and Buddhists call “karma” — the idea that what we put out into the universe will eventually come back to us (one way or another) — is echoed in Biblical verses such as “as you sow, so shall you reap” and “he who takes up the sword shall die by the sword.”

          OmegaPaladin in reply to Observer. | July 23, 2013 at 12:24 pm

          The classic Greek model of tragedy and hubris invoking Nemesis also fits into the same general pattern of cosmic fairness.

          Cosmic Justice is also where you get natural law and the conviction that the laws of a government are unjust. A fugitive slave was legally required to be re-enslaved, and there was process for carrying that out. Regardless of the process, that was unjust, as the entire peculiar institution was unjust and wicked.

One bit of cosmic justice in this case is that middle-class white people who chose to be ignorant of violent black racism are now having their noses rubbed in it.

When the race war some black people have been inciting for decades finally happens, it won’t end well for 13% of the population.

littlebeartoe | July 23, 2013 at 10:39 am

Neo-neocon, you have it backward. The quest for cosmic justice is a moral quest. The American judicial system is a blundering attempt to approximate it.

Cosmic justice, or true morality, requires better than some group of jurors and a judge, who are obviously fallible. God judges.

I say this as a non-religious person who thinks Zimmerman was railroaded. But keep your arguments straight.

“Social justice” is a poor label for one of these concepts, as that phrase already means something a bit different.

It is a modern Communist phrase meaning “income redistribution”, or everyone’s salaries determined by the Party on an arbitrary, rather than economic, basis.

What’s with the mystery Auto Post function here? I can get that sort of annoyance from Yahoo anytime.

Re Social Justice: In its most logically developed “reducto ad absurdum” form, it means that everyone is paid the same amount simply for being around (ie, voting “present”), regardless of the work done.

This diverges from Marx, who was concerned with “producers of value”, that is, production or factory workers and farmers – the sorts well represented by visual symbols like hammers and sickles. But compared to a modern Euro-style commie, Marx was a practical man.

    Uncle Samuel in reply to rantbot. | July 23, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Marx and Stalin perverted or bastardized every kind of justice I (tentatively) labeled above…even their own for the sake of expediency, power-consolidation/maintenance and self-preservation.

    Theirs is justice in its worst form, because it is a cruel farce.

“Social Justice” is Orwellian doublespeak for “injustice,” and it should be treated for the lie it is.

Those people who are angry about the lack of “social justice” are ones who don’t want to acknowledge that their entire case against George Zimmerman was a pack of lies.

If it has been true that Trayvon Martin was the ten-year-old in his old pictures, and George Zimmerman had “chased him down” and “shot” him “because of the way he looked,” and George Zimmerman wasn’t injured, the trial would have turned out differently.

There are simply enormous differences between the facts of the stories about this case perpetuated by those who purport to be “angry” about it, and the evidence at trial.

Justice was forcing the State to make its case in a court of law, and requiring it to produce the evidence to support its story.

Henry Hawkins | July 23, 2013 at 11:55 am

American social justice is when a brown man shoots a black man and the white man is blamed.

Humphreys Executor | July 23, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Obama said African Americans have to view the world in the context of a history that cannot be changed. Really? So how do you fix that? If African Americans get to perpetually inherit the right to redress the suffering of their ancestors under slavery and Jim Crow (Ironically, Obama himself has no claim there)do I get to inherit the sacrifice of my great-great grandfather who died young from disease contracted in the Civil War? Do I get to inherit any credit from my my Quaker ancestors who, as a group, opposed slavery and aided runaway slaves?

Henry Hawkins | July 23, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Perhaps a chit system to address Social Justice. My parents were both born in non-slavery countries, came to America in the early 1930s. There is zero familial connection between me and American slavery. This provides enough chits for me to buy a waiver on white guilt and on my share of slavery reparations. You Mayflower bastards need to pay up, though. Should have picked a better ancestry.

Jeralyn at Talk Left wrote about idiot tweets she has seen:

“What’s no so easily overlooked or brushed off are the number stupid tweets calling for throwing the Bill of Rights out the window because of the verdict in this case. There were calls to reduce the burden of proof in criminal cases. Calls to change the law so that the state could appeal a not guilty verdict. Calls to repeal the privilege against self-incrimination so that a defendant could be forced to testify against himself. Calls to end the requirement that a verdict be unanimous. Calls to do away with expert testimony. Calls to change the rules of evidence so that negative character evidence as to the defendant (only)could be introduced.”

Since minorities commit the overwhelming crimes in this country wouldn’t that hurt them the most. Or should we just change the Bill of Rights for whites to even the playing field or maybe just on cases the Black Grievance Industry deems it necessary for political expediency. The US DOJ could poll the NAACP and La Raza to see if special circumstances should be applied. But then what would happen if it was a hispanic vs a black? Or should the media get a say in deciding what someones race is as they have done in GZ’s case. They have called him a white-hispanic and a self-idenified hispanic. If Obama had committed a crime against a black kid, since he is 1/2 white 1/2 black but is Ivy League educated should that make him a white. I have a better idea treat everyone the same. But that just makes too much sense and there’s no money or political power in it for the poverty pimps like Obama, Sharpton and Jackson.

Interesting times. Once most of the facts come out, we find out that Trayvon Martin is no Rosa Parks and George Zimmerman is no Bull Connor. Rather than just admit to a rush to judgment, the Captains of Race Industry double down and continue to peddle the original narrative.

Catherine533 | July 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Profiling (def.) – making a decision about a specific situation based on historic fact and personal experience. We all do it – every day – about everything. “Profiling” is a human instinct and not a dirty word.

    seeing_eye in reply to Catherine533. | July 24, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    When I read Corey’s affidavit for the charge of Murder 2, it seemed to me that Corey was trying to say that “profiling” was another chargeable offense.

Pettifogger | July 23, 2013 at 2:52 pm

From “A Man for all Seasons”:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ‘round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

Can I get a pass, my family could never afford a slave. We’ve squandered our money on hunting and fishing supplies and maybe a little cheap beer.