Hello dear reader(s)!
I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that the United States lacks a justice system. It isn’t just that reforms are absolutely needed in the courts, public funding, and jails, but simply that our concept of justice isn’t justice at all.
American justice, is just some small-dick, white guy’s vengeance fantasy straight from every bad Dirty Harry movie or Hollywood Western.
From when a very large cop throws a hay maker to the face of a seriously intoxicated girl at a college football game, simply because she drunk slapped him in the back of the head as she was being carried out, to all the people who cheer when a protester gets run down…we don’t really understand justice.
In the incident in Miami, this woman was clearly no threat to the cop. He had numerous other options to restrain her, but chose to respond with disproportionate force. That isn’t justice. This cop will get off, because he was struck first, and because cops always get off, and that isn’t justice either.
When the cop fanboys cheer that kind of thing, I ask what they would do if it were their own children who, in a tempter tantrum, tried some half-assed slap. Would they punch the kid square in the face ten times harder to prove their point? Or would they grab their hands (because you still don’t want a finger in your eye), and let them know that they are getting in even bigger trouble for trying to slap? And don’t try to give me the notion that children are not as strong as adults and so these adults are threats, because in either case, the force difference is overwhelming.
Cops shoot unarmed people (mostly black people) for any number of imagined slights. The internet army cheers them on. “He should’ve complied.” “He was a thug.” “He should have reached for the ID the officer barked at him to get more slowly.”
If you survive a cop, there are two routes you can go. The route with money will get a lawyer that will actually work on your case, and will spend time getting the court to see the human being you are outside of the crime in an attempt to mitigate any sentencing provided you are actually convicted. Extra bonus points if you are young, wealthy, and white. You probably won’t be convicted though, because your lawyer can spend the time to exploit any possibly weaknesses in the case made by the Prosecution.
The route without money is much worse. You will get an overworked lawyer, with about six hours (if you’re lucky) to review your case. About 95% of cases taken by a public defender result in a plea agreement. If you dare to refuse a plea and take your case to trial, you will sit in jail longer as you await that trial. Of course, you can buy your way out of jail, if you can afford it.
Sadly, most of the US doesn’t care. “You did the crime, you do the crime”, they say. But this is for people without a conviction. This is a system that railroads poor people into pleading guilty when they may not be. Americans believe that arrest equals guilt, which is the antithesis of what our justice system should be predicated upon. Some people believe that any encounter with the police equals guilt.
Then, or course, there are the laws themselves. Many laws are simply unjust. Many laws infringe upon our human and Constitutional rights, but are enforced anyway. For most of those laws, are selectively enforced, and that’s not just perception, the numbers back it up.
“Sorry random black kid with two ounces, you obviously have intent to sell, thug.” vs. “Don’t worry little white kid, feels like an ounce to me. We’re just going to write you a ticket, or give you a warning. If I catch you again, I will tell your parents the next time I see them at Bennigan’s.”
No. We don’t do justice here in the US. We can’t call cops to help us, we call them to clean up the mess and exact our vengeance. Cops can’t keep us safe. They don’t stop the nutjob who opens fire over a crowd of concertgoers or parishioners; they either clean up the murder-suicide, or kill or arrest the perpetrator after it happens. They don’t stop the break-in, they try to get an arrest and then cruise the pawn shops to get your stuff back after the fact. Yet those arrests don’t deter the crime. Our prison population includes a bigger percentage of our population than any other nation, and yet people still commit crimes. What keeps us safe, isn’t the police, it is the fact that most of us are good people, who are not yet desperate enough to survive by any means necessary. The home invader is either gone, dead or injured, or has harmed someone by the time police arrive.
Your local police aren’t some fictional TV show or spy movie. They don’t stop the terrorist attack just before the bomb blows up ala NCIS LA, they pick up the pieces and try to arrest someone for it afterward. They were too busy getting an easy arrest by raiding a place for cannabis. Much easier to bust a relaxed stoner than it would be to investigate, infiltrate, and prevent a terrorist attack, after all. Too busy harassing the guy panhandling on the freeway entrance. Too busy working crowd control protecting Nazis’ “rights” to intimidate and call for genocide.
If it sounds like I don’t like police, I can’t really argue that. I like the concept of police. I do think that some actions should have consequences. I do believe that justice still should carry an element of punishment for unjust offenses. Where I don’t like police is their belief that those consequences only apply the way they choose to apply them, and never face them themselves.
But it isn’t personal, or just against cops.
Until we realize that justice isn’t vengeance, that justice needs to be equally applied, and that those who carry out justice need to be just people themselves, I don’t really like any aspect of our “justice system”. We need a full cultural shift on what defines justice, if we ever want to live in a just society.
Until then, no justice, no peace. That’s not a threat, it is what’s happening.