When justice becomes “social justice” there is no justice . . . or mercy
“there’s a constant natural conflict between justice and mercy,” a conflict the left resolves by redefining justice
This post isn’t primarily about Kavanaugh and Ford, although obviously that’s the jumping-off spot. It’s about the larger issues that the controversy reflects, which have to do with the nature of justice.
Robert Frost (yes, that Robert Frost) had this to say on the subject (from a talk he gave at Bread Loaf in 1960):
Naturally there’s a constant natural conflict between justice and mercy. The big joke is that somebody on earth ought to balance them up. Probably God does. It could be assumed. That is the most Godlike thing: to balance them—mercy for justice or a just mercy. But there’s something there that’s almost too hard for a mortal man to get.
When I was a child I was very taken with these questions. That may sound unusual, but I don’t really think it is. Children (many children, at least) naturally want the world to be a just place. They want the guilty punished and the innocent rewarded. They want it to be easy to tell the difference. And they don’t want to wait decades to see it happen.
In fact, many children are so into the idea of justice that if bad things happen to them they imagine they must indeed be bad people. But that’s another topic for another time.
Justice and mercy are not usually easily balanced for most people, even children. Most people tend to fall either into what I would call the prosecutor mentality, bent on punishing the perps, or the defense attorney mentality, bent on making sure the accused has the benefit of the doubt and is not railroaded into jail.
I was much more the victim in my life as a child. I was small, young, and a girl, surrounded by adults who were not necessarily all that kind and by older boys who were intent on teasing me and even hitting me quite often, and I was not strong enough to defend myself successfully although I certainly tried on a daily basis. Now, that’s not the worst thing a child ever faced, but it wasn’t an easy situation either.
Based on that history, one might think I would have grown up with the prosecutor mentality. But for some reason I grew up with the defense attorney mentality. I had an absolute horror of false accusations. In fact, one of my early heroes was Clarence Darrow (I wrote about him in this lengthy post), and when I went off to law school years later it was with the idea of becoming a defense attorney. Although Criminal Law and Evidence were indeed two of my favorite courses, I realized early on that I didn’t have the temperament (read: cojones) to become a defense attorney or even a trial attorney of any sort.
But I’ve never lost my feeling of outrage when people rush to judgment on the basis of flimsy evidence. I think I am quite consistent as well, not just favoring those whose politics match mine but applying the same rules to all.
The Kavanaugh hearings have been a terrible manifestation and demonstration of the fact that so many people are only too happy to rush to attack someone whose politics they don’t like and to defend a person whose politics they do like, the latter mouthing pious and yet pernicious stupidities like “believe the women” or “believe the victims.” That way lies the end of our system of justice, which though flawed is one of the best, if not the best, ever developed by humankind.
In that same 1960 speech, Frost also said this:
The Democratic Party and the Republican Party are having quite a time about it right now. They both want to sound merciful enough, and they both want to sound just enough. They’re going to outdo each other in getting that right. The nice way is to choose the Democrats for being too merciful. Somebody calculated that the mercies that they promised the world were going to cost us about fifty billion dollars a year—if they did all they had in their program. The Republicans have got to sort of match that somewhere if they don’t get broke.
Frost correctly predicted that, in the effort to seem “nice” and counter the Democrats’ seeming niceness, the GOP would move to the left and end its own fiscal austerity. That’s indeed what happened.
Frost also says that both parties were attempting to sound both merciful and just. That was probably true back then, but it’s not true anymore—or rather, it’s my observation that the Democrats have completely abandoned the “mercy” part of the equation where their political opponents are concerned. Or you might say that they’ve redefined “justice” and “mercy” as being whatever they see as benefiting one of their protected classes/groups of people: women, minorities, everyone but white men.
Needless to say, that’s not justice. But it’s the new kind of “justice”—so-called “social justice.” See, they’ve even co-opted the word “justice.”
[Neo is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at the new neo.]
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One of the brightest women that I’ve ever met (she pulled perfect 800s on her PSATs and SATs and went off to an Ivy League college at 16) at age 11 transferred to junior high, where every morning they said the Pledge of Allegiance. She refused.
Her reason: “When you get to the part that says ‘liberty and justice for all’ that isn’t the truth. Liberty and Justice depend on who you are, how much money you have and who you know. I refuse to be a hypocrite.”
She is a patriotic American, but has never once from that day said the Pledge of Allegiance.
How very sad for our nation that even our children recognize this.
Your story is illustrative of how some kids (and adults) see things in absolutes.
“Liberty and justice for all” is obviously not a hard reality. It’s asperational, and that’s a good thing. We want that. We strive for it. Our best people work for it.
I know many highly intelligent with with poor wisdom and low moral character.
The flag reptesenting the Republic she refuses to honor stands for an undivided nation where everyone ejoys liberty and justice.
That’s what the flag STANDS for – a hope, a dream. An ideal that we strive for. And although, try as we might, we often fail to realize that goal, our efforts to reach it have bequeathed liberty and justice for more people than if we hadn’t tried at all.
Pledging allegiance to a dream doesn’t make one a hypocrite. Something most children learn once they grow up.
OMG. See what you did? Rags and Fen, cats and dogs living together. Mass hysteria! 🙂
I’m sure it is just a temporary aberration. The two of you will regain your senses shortly!
If your story is even true: your ‘genius’ friend is so bright, she’s a fool.
By her logic, she’ll never be able to pledge to anything.
And if we were to believe she’s a ‘patriotic American,’ she’d gladly pledge for justice for all, would she not?
Apparently she’s not bright enough to parse the words of the Pledge of Allegiance. If she exists.
As someone with cognitive privilege, I would’ve expected her to understand that inequality is inevitable, and that the world is imperfect.
Unfortunately, the smarter you are the more often you think you can control the world. Maybe she grew out of her arrogance one day.
With multiple degrees, including a JD, I could be said to have “cognitive privilege.” I also refuse to say the pledge. I don’t see it as denying the aspirational nature of the pledge; rather, I see it as similar to the reason I left the Republican Party — neither represent the ideals I hold. A country that racially gerrymanders its congressional districts to ensure that minorities can elect a candidate of their color but demonizes parties when they draw lines to maximize their influence, that parcels out benefits based on a racial spoils system but treats Asians as undeserving of the spoils because they work hard, that has one system of justice for rich and connected and Democratic and another for the rest of us, that accepts the actions of a president who brags that he violates the Constitution because “Congress won’t act” and “I have a pen and a phone” but whose judges deny another president “because Trump” — this is not a country I pledge allegiance to.
It’s interesting — the Left used to make a big show about advocating for the fair treatment of criminal defendants, treating due process and the presumption of innocence as sacrosanct principles; respecting statutes of limitation and laches as being essential to ensuring that charges/claims were timely brought, out of fairness to the defending party; all of those great ideals. Plus, in the context of juvenile and teen criminal offenders, reminding us that teenage brains aren’t fully-formed; that teens lack adults’ maturity and judgment, etc. And, finally, that convicted criminals deserve a chance to be “redeemed,” “rehabilitated,” etc.
It really says something about an ideology whose adherents contend that cop-murderers Mumia Abu-Jamal and Joanne Chesimard represent “heroes;” that Donna Hylton can torture and murder a gay man, but, speak at the “Women’s March” as a lauded guest; that serial lechers Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy are to be canonized as Leftist saints; but, that Brett Kavanaugh is allegedly a scoundrel beyond redemption who deserves to be drawn and quartered on the basis of a single, accusation grounded in non-existent evidentiary supports and presenting the most suspect provenance and motives conceivable.
Amazing how all of the Left’s lofty criminal justice ideals get thrown right into the trash, when the accused is a white, conservative/Republican man.
Note that I’m not saying that Kavanaugh is a criminal, or a defendant; only that his situation is somewhat analogous. These people are willing to crucify a guy who’s led irreproachable personal and professional lives, on the flimsiest of accusations. It’s insane.
It’s appropriate that the Salem Witch Trials have been resurrected, not by the oft-maligned and so-called “Christian Right,” but, by fanatical Dumb-o-crat zealots who can brook no heresies vis-a-vis their capricious, malleable and self-serving orthodoxies and standards of morality. Of which the “Me-Too” Inquisition is merely the latest manifestation.
This illustrates the Dennis Prager point that “leftists” are not the “liberals” of a decade or two ago.
“Liberals” were deeply anti-Communists, free-speech advocates, and support good law enforcement.
“Leftists” don’t believe any along those lines.
Both populations still exist, but the “Leftists” have the levers now.
The left hasn’t cared about statutes of limitation and laches for a long, long time. That’s why, for example, you see the left push for getting rid of statues of limitation in sexual assault cases, and if they can’t get that settle for one that’s so long it’s indistinguishable in practice from not having one at all.
This is already completely out-of-hand.
Stick to the rules.
ANd now…. drum roll…. another woman claims “Ford like rape” …. developing on Drudge.
Since Ford was not raped or attempted rape this is a new shift of the goal posts.
“Coke cans” are a coming?
Rats…. just an alcohol lubricated party with plenty of holes. At worst coarse but in a group setting not exactly assault. Dumb yes… The Dems are now the Puritans of the 21st Century protecting the fragile female snowflakes from the cruel world of men.
I quite agree. It’s very unlikely that Kavenaugh did what this woman claims — but even if he did, what of it? A good bit of grabbing and groping is to be expected at an alcohol-fueled gathering of high-school kids, and probably more than that. No harm, no foul — no proof, no case. There’s no reason for any of this (even if it was true) other than politics.
It’s hard for a s.j.w(goon) living in mom and dad’s basement to guage the damage to the society fabric that it causes. Their love of discourse mimicks the love shown by miseltoe to the tree.
Well put Neo, excellent article.
have a feeling the Democrats are about to learn another rule, ‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’
Or a stronger and more violent opposite reaction.
Sadly, it won’t come from Senate Republicans.
In all this: how did it fall by the wayside that Dianne Feinstein had an assistant for 20 years who turned out to be a Chi Com spy?
And how did the Debbie Schultz Congressional computer scandal fall by the wayside?
And how did hillary klinton’s gross treason fall by the wayside?…
Oh. Forgot: Sessions. Hang the bastard.
Think Clear and Present Danger with Prez offering chits to keep quiet. Must be a game of how many IOU’s are out there… sort of like Bitcoin.
Social Justice is communism redefined.
The ideal, in our society, was that justice would be arrived at through a rational, reasonable and logical analysis of real evidence. This ideal has been the basis of judicial decisions for centuries. What we are watching now id the naked truth about humanity. Human beings are born selfish, amoral opportunists. They lie, cheat and steal to satisfy their own wants, needs and desires. Just look around the world and throughout history, if you doubt that. Human being as base, disgusting creatures. However, within humanity is the seed of nobility. We create societies which attempt to submerge our baser instincts and elevate of nobler ones. We attempt to promote equality [under our laws], fairness, compassion, understanding, brotherhood. Those are the ideals upon which out nation was founded. We fought both a physical civil war and several cultural wars [universal suffrage for one] to achieve some semblance of legal equality. We fought, and continue to fight, cultural wars to promote fair treatment for all people. Our nation is based upon a religion which, at its core, preaches compassion for others. We have been striving to understand our fellow man, even though we come from a mixture of differing cultures and religions. We have, as a society, tried to embrace the notion that we are all brothers, simply by virtue of being Americans.
Now we are seeing that a significant portion of our society is not only uninterested in those ideals, but are behavior exactly as the basic human instinct instructs; as selfish, amoral opportunists. It is that way because a significant portion of our society has been taught that it can do whatever it wants by virtue of the race, gender, sexual orientation or philosophical outlook of its members. Hypocrisy can not exist if everything is allowable. That is why we are engage in another cultural civil war, which may well evolve into a physical civil war.