Friday, June 19, 2009

Mob Rule

I am growing more and more concerned about the state of justice in this country. You guys know by now that there is nothing I loathe more than people who commit crimes against women and children. I may rail against Jason Young, Casey Anthony, Chris Coleman and their ilk, but in all these cases, I want to see a trial. A fair trial.

I will agree that the system does not always work. It's not perfect. People are not perfect, therefore their institutions are bound to be flawed. Still, it beats hell out of stringing suspects up from the nearest tree. It beats trial by combat. It pretty much beats any other system I can think of. People always point to the OJ Simpson trial as an example of system failure, and they are correct. The jury was composed of people who were reluctant to convict an "American Icon." The Prosecution needed to present an iron-clad case, impervious to the shenanigans of the defense lawyers, and they failed to do so. OJ is not the only murderer who has walked free for years.

I can understand the frustration of many with the courtroom games, with all the safeguards that are there for the lawyers to exploit. I do. I really do understand.

But still.

I see an alarming trend. Beginning with the Scott Peterson trial, when a "victim's advocate" published a picture of a bag of cement she saw in the driveway of the Peterson home in Modesto, I see more and more ordinary people inserting themselves into the process of investigation and trial.

I was shocked to see crowds gathering outside the home of Casey Anthony, yelling at her, and at her family. Those people became part of the story, with their hysterics, and their interactions with the family plastered all over the TV news and the internet.

A small crowd gathered to yell, "Murderer!" at Chris Coleman, when he was transported to court. What's next? Stones? Guns?

Are these actions a result of our culture of "instant gratification?" Have we become so jaded with the time it takes for investigations, trials, appeals and executions that we are ready to "take matters into our own hands?"

The wheels of Justice turn very slowly, but they do turn. I'm willing to be patient. Why do so many want to "git a rope?"


  1. I just got done reading Day Of The Locust (again).

    Yes, we are jaded. And we've been inundated with movies that celebrate subversion of judicial procedure. We love our Dirty Harrys, our Bruce Willises. When Indiana Jones hauled out his gun and shot the guy brandishing a sword (not really sporting), the audience cheered.

    We don't always want justice. We may call it that, but what we want is vengeance.

    And there's lots of angry people out there who feel "the system," whether that's the economic system that destroyed their jobs, their savings, and their lives, or a family-court system that "shafts men," as men believe with some justification, or a criminal-justice system that responds to money and celebrity, has failed them--and as such, it need no longer be respected or allowed to function.

    There's free-floating anger that wants to pound something. People mistake their anger for a desire for "justice." And the height and depth of their anger is mistaken for an almost angelic retributive power.

    Read the last Left Behind book to see what lurks in the hearts and minds of some Rapture-Ready Christians. There's an unmistakable pleasure taken by the characters when the Evil Ones are mashed and sliced and diced in a mad welter of blood. (After Jesus arrives and kills all the bad people, cell phones and airplanes still work. I read it in Glorious Appearing.)

  2. Driver, I agree that most of what you have said is true, but there is another factor.

    Instant gratification.

    We are used to getting instant responses to our every wish.

    My kids laugh at the fact that I had pen pals in high school, and used to wait with eager anticipation for those letters from France, or Japan, or England, or India. I wrote, sent the letter off, and waited a month or more for an answer.

    How long since you have read a Victorian novel? I'm still not sure they didn't get paid by the word! But people read aloud for entertainment in those days.

    Nowadays, we want everything done yesterday, if not sooner. We decide, in our infinite wisdom, that somebody is guilty, and we want the satisfaction of seeing that person punished right away.

    I thought Daniel Horowitz was guilty. I was wrong. Investigations and trials are a good thing, as is the cultivation of patience.

  3. Oh, and I didn't get through the first Left Behind book! Should I skip ahead to the last?

  4. I always laugh when I hear someone comment on the message boards about saving taxpayers money and Just Kill them.

    What looks like the most likely suspect is sometimes too easy. And all the media provides BEFORE the trial is the evidence against them. Sometimes all circumstantial.

    Take the Ramsey's for example. There was matching DNA on three parts of Jon Benet's body and clothing, but there are some nutcases out there who just ignore that and still say that it was either Patsy or John. The DNA does not match anyone in the family. But they hold their fingers in their ears and scream NANNANANANANA I cant hear you!

    Because they LOOKED like the most likely suspects. This is because the police in that case were idiots and ONLY focused on them, and so did the media.

  5. Don't mean to hi-jack this post, Ronni but here is the URL to my grand-neices pic -- it's on FaceBook so I hope you can view it.


  6. Tiki, I can't open your link. Maybe I'd need to be "friended" by the person whose gallery it is...

  7. Was afraid of that - you're probably right. I'll see if I can figure our another way but I am hopelessly PC illiterate.

  8. Is it your gallery? I'm on Facebook, under my real name: Veronica Prior. You can add me as a friend, or suggest to the person whose gallery it is that they do so.

  9. Just search my name in facebook.

  10. Ronnie..just wanted you to know I've been browsing your blog and enjoyed grandma to another!

  11. I'm glad you like it, Eve...