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.