Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Court of Public Opinion

There are allegations everywhere. Lot's of people are accused of doing lots of evil things and we are pressed to punish them. In western jurisprudence a person, whether an ordinary citizen, an oligarch, an aristocrat, or a world leader, is considered innocent until proven guilty. So, what are some of the charges?

Trump's people spoke to diplomats. That one's not even a crime. That's why we have diplomats.
Trump's people had financial ties to Russia. And Israel, and Saudi Arabia, and who knows where else. So? Bush was pretty chummy with the bin Ladens. Clinton got donations/bribes from a lot of shady foreign nationals. And some shady national nationals.
Russia interfered with our elections. And AIPAC doesn't? How about Sheldon Adelson? George Soros? Investigate them, hmmm?
Clinton had some debilitating disease. Well, now we're hearing that Trump has all sorts of brain diseases from Alzheimer's to Chronic Baby Syndrome (it's there. Look it up in the DSM!)
The Assad government nukes kittens. Have you looked at Yemen lately?
There are 'moderate' terrorists in Syria. Yes, and I've got a pyramid in Cairo to sell you.
Vladimir Putin eats babies (human caviar.)
Julian Assange is a rapist.

Innocent until proven guilty, or rediculous. Yes. Let's have investigations. Let's have independent prosecutors conduct transparent investigations where all of the facts are open and subject to scrutiny. Have the OPCW investigate chemical weapons releases in Syria instead of blocking legitimate investigation. Allow Assange to defend himself with guarantees that he won't be kidnapped and transferred to an American torture facility. Let the accused face his accuser and have a chance to defend himself before a jury of his peers. And let's not be so choosey on who we condemn and who we ignore. Last year all the outrage was directed at Aleppo. Today in Mosul? Nothing. No, two wrongs don't make a right. But we first must decide if it is a wrong. And why do we choose one to declare wrong and another to ignore altogether? Who decides that?

Instead we have degenerated back to the old Anglo-Saxon champion system. If my champion can defeat your champion, I am innocent. Or off the hook. Same thing. Today we have different champions. There're cruise missiles, the shiny toys of adjudication. Propaganda, or Fake News, is powerful. Guilty in the Court of Public Opinion, also known as a Lynch mob. As vigilante justice. Is that what we stand for? How are we any different from those we condemn?

If you were accused of a crime, which would you prefer? That a judge and jury consider all the evidence and demand proof? That they weigh that evidence and insist on credible witnesses that can be cross examined and validated? Or would you prefer rumors and accusations that are immediately taken as gospel by your jurors who then refuse to consider any new evidence?

Justice is blind. This is supposed to remind us not to look at appearances but to listen to the facts and the arguments and weigh them all in her scale. The scale is tipped to remind us that we can never get it 100% right. Never be sure that justice is being served. Be not so quick to mete out death in judgement!

Next time, we might be the ones tried for crimes against humanity. Which justice would we hope for?

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