Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Just and lawful are not exact synonyms

I hear people say we have a legal system, not a justice system, as though this is a Bad Thing™. Robb Allen gives an example where a just outcome was not the legal one. We grant agents of the government the awful power to seize, search, arrest, imprison, enslave, and kill malefactors, but only after they have complied with due process of law.

In Robb Allen’s example, the malefactor was one of Sumdood’s merry band, a rascal and a man of low character. But his legal rights were violated in the name of Justice. And as Robb points out, the violation of this man’s legal rights is a loss of rights for everyone. It gets easier to break the rules once you’ve done it once, and in this case, when you’ve been officially blessed by the Powers That Be.

So, the next time you hear someone say we have a legal system, not a justice system, remember that we have a legal system for our protection.

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