What is justice?

Laer has a very interesting question.  At his blog, he relates the tragic story of two immigrants who were murdered by a man who then turned the gun on himself, killing himself before he could be arrested.  Laer asks if justice can ever be served when the perpetrator avoids the justice system, not by escaping capture, but by suicide.  Head on over there and give Laer your opinion on that question.  I did.

12 Responses

  1. What makes this an interesting question?

  2. It is more justice than having some liberal judge let him out on parole in 2010 (if he would even ever be convicted)to kill someone who took his parking space and a Speedy Mart.

  3. I mean ‘at’ a Speedy Mart.

  4. It’s an interesting question, Greag, because all cultures have to grapple with crime and punishment. It’s especially interesting in the Judeo-Christian context because the Bible, both Old Testament and New, is very focused on justice, with justice being one of the paramount issues of the Old Testament. As a society, it is important to us to define what is justice, so that we can calibrate our justice system to meet the needs of our citizenry.

  5. Both the New *and* Old Testaments? My goodness, Book, your brain is working overtime … Still, what exactly does your gloss on the nature of justice have to do with the exceptional case under review?

  6. Well, it’s an easy one for me: Imprisonment serves two purposes. First, to protect society from the predator. Second, to use hard time served as a punishment prior to allowing the convicted to rejoin society.

    Suicide takes care of both of these concerns.

    Nothing there in my philosophy about rehabilitation. The emergence of what is essentially a new person cannot be predicted under ANY circumstances of any sort. When the criminal rehabilitates himself or herself, it’s an occasion for celebration of such an unexpected (and rare) spiritual self-conversion.

    A few months back NBC exposed a county district attorney for attempted child molestation during a “sting”. The attorney killed himself. OReilly published photos of a pair of child molestors who, upon seeing their pictures everywhere, killed themselves. Why did these people not kill themselves PRIOR to the exposure? This is not guilt; this is not rehab; this is not sorrow; these people merely did not want to face the music for their predatory behavior. Goodbye, and good riddance.

  7. Agreed, Mike. Justice was not served. Shirinian shot himself in order to escape justice, and unfortunately he succeeded. It’s tragic for the families of his victims, but sometimes — like it or no — that’s just the way it is. As you suggest, at least he won’t be able to kill anyone else.

  8. I find myself troubled by Laer’s paragraph:
    “The Farhadian family will now have no chance to see Shirinian stand trial and face charges for the murders he committed. They will not be able to face him, or tell the court the pain he caused. They will not see him hauled off in chains to prison, as he presumably would be, given the evidence. And they won’t see him executed by the state.”

    Is suffering the purpose of prison? So that the victims can sleep easily, knowing that even while they relax in the comfort of their beds, the criminal is off somewhere at that same moment, intensely suffering? I always thought prison should not be easy; it should be hard. But I never considered its purpose to be suffering. If so, we’re VERY unimaginative in creating ways to torment them! Random but severe electrification shocks of cells with metal floors, fill the cell blocks with water every so often and make em tread water for a few hours, something randomly in the food to cause severe gastrointestinal distress, Entertainment Tonight on every channel for an entire day.

    I liked the idea of victims testifying in court during the sentencing phase, but when did the actual purpose of a court trial become closure for victims?

    Execution by the state may feel like justice, but only in comparison to the intolerable thought that the murderer is lazing away all his remaining days, living contentedly in a comfortable, free and easy prison cocoon.

    In sum, a criminal committing suicide isn’t an escape from justice, to me. Especially in the case of these murderous predators, it just points out to me how utterly cheaply they see all life, the lives of their victims and the lives of themselves. Life as a worthless event, to be taken on a whim, discarded on a whim.

  9. It’s an interesting question, Greag, because all cultures have to grapple with crime and punishment.

    Except for the fact that g doesn’t have to deal with crime, punishment, or justice.

    At least they are not subjects from which he has to ask any questions about.

    I liked the idea of victims testifying in court during the sentencing phase, but when did the actual purpose of a court trial become closure for victims?

    That was actually one of the whole points of the justice system, Mike. To distance the victims of the crime from the crime and the criminals. This is so as to prevent people from going vigilante and hauling someone from the jails and lynching them.

    Closure for the victims was one of the problems they had to solve, because if the victims of the crime felt more was needed to be done, then that is exactly what they would have done back in America’s beginning.

    Just because this issue has more or less been resolved, does not mean it never existed as an actual purpose for the justice system.

  10. Y,
    I agree with you on #9. “To distance the victims of the crime from the crime and the criminals.” is what happened, to the point where victims felt completely ignored. Victims advocated for, and won, the right to testify during sentencing. I believe that is a great improvement.

    And you have a great point about the lynchings and vigilantism.

    Perhaps I should rethink my position. I don’t want “closure”; I just want to know that the criminal is not walking around free, enjoying the fruits of his predatory labor. Suicide takes care of that for me, and I personally would not feel cheated of justice.

  11. Suicide takes care of that for me, and I personally would not feel cheated of justice.

    Justice in that sense is simply domestic tranquility, something the government is empowered to ensure and secure. However, when I use the word justice, as opposed to say “justice system”, I mean the philosophical set of beliefs concerning what justice is or is not.

  12. Thank you all for this spirited discussion. It was all I hoped for.

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