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Phoebe Loosinhouse wrote a spectacular piece about policing for profit about where we went wrong with the 4th amendment and the Drug War.

Using a few outrageous examples that highlight a predatory police force (at both the federal and local levels) that robs people of their property by simply alleging drug activity. It's a terrifying diary. Please go read it.

The diary closed with this sentence:
Some People Don't Deserve Justice

It was apt. In fact, I was thinking about it as I was getting ready to tip, recommend, and comment. It struck me as something we should talk about so I decided to write a diary on it.

What is Justice?

I think this is a big problem for us as a society. Our pop culture is steeped in extrajudicial execution of justice due to bureaucratic ineptitude or failed or dirty government. It's a hackneyed movie script - we've all seen it a gazillion times.
Justice is Done

Justice, as many American people see it today, seems to be synonymous with punishment. "He did wrong, now give him his justice." To go further "Justice" is positive punishment, which means the punishment is put on the guilty party. Justice is also supposed to be painful and swift - justice should hurt, "Lethal injection is too good for him. It should hurt more."

Another interpretation of justice that is very prevalent in our society is the idea that justice is about making the victim "feel better", and everyone knows that the only way to feel better is for the bad person to suffer: "Lethal injection is too good for him. It should hurt more."

So we have a large portion of our society who interprets justice as something you do to people who are bad or as getting revenge upon your oppressor. Justice is done and that's that.

It's a really limited version of justice isn't it? Where is the "concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people" that we see in the dictionary? How can one be objective, impartial and even handed if we put justice on bad guys or get our justice to feel better about being wronged? Promoting peace, fairness, and genuine respect for people with that kind of ill willed and sour intent? It's just not happening.

Justice is Peace, Fairness, and Respect

The actions you take in the name of justice should bring about peace, fairness and respect for others. Everybody deserves justice. Justice is a state of being, it's not an action. Justice is never done.

While it may be punishment based, it doesn't have to be.

You can promote justice with positive reinforcement as well. Enter people in the lottery for driving the speed limit and see how quickly they slow their asses down and kids and bicyclists don't get hit by cars. That's pretty just if you ask me.

Our pop culture concept of justice doesn't do much to promote peace and genuine respect because justice is something that is done and Some People Don't Deserve Justice.

Who Doesn't Deserve Justice

If some people don't deserve justice, then the next question that should be asked is,"Well, which people do not deserve justice?"

It should be a rhetorical question, but it's probably not going to be because of our cognitive dissonance between the two kinds of justice - Webster's Edition vs the pop culture Hollywood version.

The answer will inevitably be ,"They or Them," which is an extension of everything not "me and mine". Them is a lot of people, and people who view justice as a state of being. This version of justice is totally incompatible with the 'fairness and respect for others' part of justice we are taught in school and read about in the dictionary.

People who have a well developed sense of justice understand this:
Me and mine are someone else's Them. Everybody deserves justice or there is none.

Behavior Modification of Justice

Justice is a state of being and justice can be an action.

Talking about justice in terms of peace, fairness, and respect for others fosters a state of being, and capturing and shaping ideas in conversation can leverage that state of being towards behavioral change.

Ring the Bell for Justice

Internalizing that and communicating that version of justice to people who are frothing at the mouth about "making somebody pay" will reinforce a state of being just. If a bunch of people internalize that understanding and communicate it when encountering wide eyed, hair pulling, haughty calls for justice or banal acceptance of terrible injustice, the likelihood of our state of being becoming more just has increased.

It sounds simple, and it is, but it's not easy. Millions of hours of violent retribution and vigilantism, are consumed daily. It brings a ton of emotional weight to the table when discussing justice. It's not easy to tip those scales, but it can be done. Strong social connections mean you are not Them, and if you are one of us then your words and feelings hold weight. The more we ring that bell about justice promoting peace, fairness, and respect for others, the less time there is for hair pulling

So that's kind of the classical conditioning end, state of being stuff, no behaviors are involved - the word justice creates an emotional and physiological state for some people, and bringing it back to peace, fairness, and understanding alters that physiological and emotional state.

Shape the Conversation

The classically conditioned state dictates the realm of potential decisions. Without that proper classically conditioned state of being, rational thought is not possible.

An example is the crazy Political dude who can't stop railing about someone getting their justice. He's so emotionally and physiologically whipped up that anything is believable and there are very few options, and all of them are bad.

Manipulating this cat's behavior is easy if all you want to do is attack. Throw a bunch of red meat around and hide the children. He'll eat anything that comes in there. But if you want to cultivate something other than base level behavior, you're going to have to try something else.

Shaping behavior is building behaviors through successive approximation. You start with something that looks like the behavior or is a precursor to it and you reinforce it - food, water, petting, campaign contributions, private jets, a vote, etc.

You reinforce pieces of behavior that get closer to the end product. It's the ultimate in pragmatism, actually. I really should diary that... the irony...

In conversation, this would be finding a kernel of agreement and expanding upon it. "Yes, that's exactly what I'm talking about! Bartender, beer this man!" I've done it countless times, and it's effective.

Personal Call to Action

I'm going to start doing this with justice. When I hear that revenge tinged hollywood crap I'm going to counter with peace, fairness, and respect for others and then shape that conversation into a discussion about peace, fairness and respect.

We've been fighting for Justice For All for a long time maybe we should start to reinforce it, because Everybody Deserves Justice.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Cookie Jar for Justice nt (13+ / 0-)

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 01:49:20 AM PST

  •  "Everybody deserves justice or there is none." (9+ / 0-)

    Exactly. Sometimes that's not easy to remember. But it's always true.

    At all times, day by day, we have to continue fighting for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom from fear, and freedom from want—for these are things that must be gained in peace as well as in war. - Eleanor Roosevelt

    by SoCalSal on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 02:05:17 AM PST

  •  I don't think justice is a matter of deserts. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    P Carey, k9disc

    That said, I appreciate your thoughtful consideration.
    I think maybe you left out the habit-prone whose behaviors become obsessive and, after some point, are virtually impossible to modify by external forces. That is, the only thing to do with the overly antagonistic and aggressive is to impose restraints, intercept their volatile actions. Of course, in order to do the equivalent of putting a muzzle on a dog that bites, we have to be super aware of the tendency to engage in what is, at base, anti-social behavior.

    To a certain extent, the pre-emption or "crime prevention" preferred by the Cons is exactly wrong because it focuses attention on directing the behavior of good people,  coercing people whose behaviors are entirely good (collecting phone records for everyone is an example), making the obedient obey, while the evil doers get away (priests molesting boys and girls is an example).

    There are evil people. What they are after is power. Coercive behavior is a clue.
    Satan "took" Jesus Christ to the mountain top for the last temptation, to rule in an earthly kingdom.

    Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

    by hannah on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 02:22:55 AM PST

    •  I'm interested in crafting a message that resonate (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hannah, serendipityisabitch

      s and sets up a state of being that is incompatible with the punitive, pain filled, retribution concept of justice.

      I think that is a good part of the disharmony of our people. There is so much wrong and so much emotion that people just want someone to pay. The large institutions are too big and are above our influence level and we know it. So we do the crabs in a bucket thing.

      Talking about justice as peace, fairness, and respect for others, and as a state of being, I think, can help change that pop culture justice thing that has guns blazing and bad people hurting.

      Thanks for your deep response.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 03:29:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Confiscation of property for uncharged drug (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k9disc, Ezekiel in Exile

    possession has been around for more than a decade.  In the days of Jim Crow, African Americans were advised to avoid "Sundown" towns, to fill up gas tanks and not to stop for any reason in some states, and for the males, never look directly at a white female.

    The recent Zimmerman case dredged up these memories for many who lived through this time while the practice of confiscation of vehicles and cash from minorities for suspected drug muling also led to an addition to the old dictums to never carry a large amount of cash and to rent a vehicle to visit certain municipalities.

    Coupled to this the recent revelations that drug dogs are far from accurate and can "indicate positive" on command from their handlers and confiscation of property becomes even more outrageous.  From memory, I can think of cases where large sums of money were confiscated when some of the bills tested positive for cocaine though (from memory) as much as 80% of US money will test positive, even if the person carrying it has had no contact with drugs.

    As a final note, I would note for some PDs, annual confiscations are a line item in their budget each year, much as the old speed trap towns used to calculate the number of tickets that needed to be written in the coming year in order to balance their budget and finance various municipal projects

  •  One is reminded of "tough on crime" claims (3+ / 0-)

    particularly by politicians, and most particularly by DAs and similar office holders.  Sometimes they can be one and the same.

    My state Rep., Stefani Carter (Texas HD-102) was an Assistant DA in Collin County, after her graduation from Harvard Law and initial private practice.  Her job performance at the DA's office was not stellar, and she got "did not perform to standards"-type job reviews.  She set her sights on the Texas Lege, and ran on a campaign of "I put criminals behind bars" when I was an Assistant DA.  This appealed to enough voters (despite her blatant attempts to hide her job reviews), and she was elected.

    But what got lost is that the DA office's job is not "to convict people and put them away", but rather "to see that justice is done".  This means basic stuff, like presumption of innocence, reasonable cause, following procedures as defined in the Constitution and the history of criminal prosecution, seeing that charges are filed with appropriate backup, and so on. In short, that the process has been applied fairly to all accused.  Jumping to the presumption of "putting people behind bars" shortcuts or ignores the process, and fails to see that the law has been applied fairly.  Pandering to this low denominator of punishment over process and fairness undermines the criminal justice system, and corrupts our understanding of justice.  And elects people like Rep. Carter to the state Legislature to further infect our laws, our understanding of justice, and sense of fairness in treatment in the legal system.

    It's is repeated way too often, and has warped our understanding and functioning of our own system.

    I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

    by tom 47 on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 03:36:41 AM PST

  •  Love "chesed" and do "mishpat" (3+ / 0-)

    There was a good discussion a few weeks back in a D'var Torah diary about the beautiful Hebrew word "mishpat," usually translated as "justice."

    The prophet Micah, a real firebrand, railed against those who think religion is about ceremony and following an elaborate set of dos and don'ts.  He claimed that YHWH wanted only two things of us:

    Love mercy and do justice.

  •  Beautiful diary, very thought provoking (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k9disc, worldlotus, ZedMont, joegoldstein

    Justice and the belief in justice is one if not the largest motivator of human behavior, in my opinion.

    Most of us have been socialized to believe that if we do wrong we will be punished and if we do right we will be rewarded. It confuses us at a very primal level if we see this construct overturned, in particular by those who are supposed to be enforcing the construct.

    I have been almost bumping into walls for a couple of years, because I simply cannot bend my head ahead the fact that neither my President nor my Attorney General nor the Attorneys General of fifty states nor the USA's can find evidence to prosecute a systemic and pervasive fraud that was perpetrated in plain sight and that has thousands if not millions of victims.

    So that is another class of people who Deserved More Justice than the rest of us. There was open testimony by officials of the DOJ that they weighed economic concerns about the entities and people involved.

    The concept of some people Deserve More Justice is a direct outgrowth of Some People Deserve No Justice. Once you accept the first one, it's pretty easy to make the stretch to the second one.

    That is what our society has done. I believe many of us now have received the message, that there is no Justice per se in our society in the sense we once conceived of it.

    I think that part of this realization is a big duh! for the portions of society who have always known that "Justice is a Commodity" and that one gets the justice one's position in society affords one. This is no secret to the poor and the oppressed.

    But when this knowlege filters down and permeates throughout the middle and even upper classes, then the social contract is tipped upside down. Then those of us who blindly believed in it feel foolish and and naive.

    But it is our "just" punishment for when we all stood by and let the drug offenders be stripped of their rights. We gave the go-ahead. And to me, when one is talking about open steps in a wrong direction, that was a biggie.

    Every generation has to learn that

    "First they came for the __ blah blah blah, and then they came for me" and understand that it is not a joke, it is not a bromide, that is actually how it works.

    Thank you again for writing about this at such a deep level.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Fri Jan 24, 2014 at 05:34:06 AM PST

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