Justice is a virtue. She is represented as a woman, holding a scale in one hand, often with a sword in the other, frequently blindfolded (or blind). Statues of Justice date back to Greek and Roman times, initially associated with goddesses. But Justice, as a Virtue, is examined in Greek philosophy and in the Bible - especially as a characteristic of kings or leaders. The famous story of two women claiming the same child, with the suggestion the child be cut in half, and the awarding of the child to the woman who offered to release her claim (assuming only a mother could not want her child to die), dates back to biblical times and indicates how state justice is built upon individual virtue. Indeed, Plato and many other philosophers, call Justice an over-riding virtue, one which plays a role in every other virtue, so that a person's character, and the character of a nation (or any social entity), can be judged by its allegiance to Justice.
As a virtue, Justice is not worshiped, but served. And it is in the service of Justice that I write this blog and perhaps that I blog at all.
Where is Justice today in America? I picture her weeping. Crying out to be heard. Whether from her blind eyes or beneath her blindfold, she is weeping. For Justice has ears and hears. She hears the cries of those in dungeons. She hears the cries of the poor. She hears the Constitution crying out. She waits. Her scales wait. Her sword waits. She waits upon us. She serves us, if we will but serve her.
This morning, the New York Times lead editorial is titled: Unraveling Injustice. And overnight British newspapers raged about injustice. I've been thinking of this blog for a couple weeks actually. But this is a good morning to call for Justice - once again. British judges are calling us out on the lack of "rule of law" regarding torture and British papers are pondering war crimes and blackmail (to keep them covered up) and considering the potential for international tribunals. And I'm interested in how the Times puts it, putting our new president on notice with: "a chance to show how serious he is about repairing Mr. Bush's legacy of harm."
A legacy of harm. Justice hears the cry. Justice in me hears the cry. And I cannot stop calling out: Justice must be served!
Our individual virtue is at stake. And our national virtue is at stake. We have not only tortured. We have covered it up. We have blindfolded (and tortured) prisoners. We have tipped the scales of justice so severely, that it will take us a long time to balance those scales again. How can we ever trust Justice if the very department charged with guarding those scales has not only failed in its duty, but engineered that failure?
I have already made the case, on a number of occasions, that we are duty bound, by our Constitution and its mandate to fulfill treaty obligations, not to engage in cruel and unusual punishment, and to investigate and prosecute torture and other crimes against humanity. I have called for simple Justice. I have written satire about this. I have made it clear I will not stop writing or calling for Justice. For equal treatment of persons. For humane treatment of persons. For humane treatment of those who did not treat others as I expect our Justice system to treat them.
I am waiting. The New York Times is waiting. Judges in Great Britain are waiting. Likely international tribunals are waiting. We are waiting upon the Obama administration. The Obama Department of Justice.
We are waiting. Without blindfolds. She of the blindfold, Justice, must be served.
March 5, 2009 4:00 PM | Reply | Permalink