The Spectacle of “Justice” in USA
In a previous post, I had speculated that societies always try to cover up their biggest deficiencies through varying degrees of systemic self-deception. Towards the end of that article I said..
Most propaganda, lies and misrepresentations are not meant for others. They are meant to convince yourself that you are basically a decent human being inspite of substantial evidence to the contrary.
One of my favorite examples for illustrating this point is the “justice system” in USA. Not a day goes by when plaintiffs, defendants or their lawyers in a famous (or semi-famous) case give a public statement professing their full faith and belief in the justness and wisdom of the american legal system. These expressions of trust in the system are sometimes genuine, often wishful and frequently ritual. Curiously, public expressions of distrust in the system are very rare even when doing so carries no extra penalty or consequence.
But even a brief look at facts and figures about the “justice” system suggests that it does not dispense anything approaching justice, at least by any non-sophistic definitions. The USA incarcerates more people than China or Russia- both in sheer numbers and percentage. Most criminal cases in the USA never go to trial and are settled via onerous plea bargains and mandatory sentences. A significant and still growing sector of the economy is devoted to locking people up for the longest time possible. Furthermore the “justice” system is designed to cause recidivism and keep those prisons full.
Employment in organisations that spy on, arrest, process and incarcerate people on an industrial scale is one of the remaining options for many people whose parents were once part of the american middle-class.
The high numbers and rates of incarceration in the USA have nothing to do with levels of “crime”. In any case, what constitutes a crime is very objective. For example, embezzling billions of dollars via “legal” means is considered to be very respectable as long as you donate generously to the campaigns of political candidates. However carrying even a few marijuana joints, especially if you are black or hispanic, can get you a jail term and criminal record. Similarly selling drugs that kill more people than help them is perfectly “legal” if you are Merck, AstraZeneca or Lilly or any other big pharma multinational corporation. But a guy selling Ecstasy pills from his apartment is considered a dangerous criminal who deserves to be locked up for many years. You get the point..
All of this brings me to the most recent spectacle staged in the american justice system aka State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman. Now I am sure that most of you have some opinion about whether his guilt or whether the guy he shot “deserved” it. Most of you have also seen tons of evidence, testimony and “experts” about which side is the bigger liar. But how many of you have asked the simple question..
Does the verdict in that trial have any value beyond entertainment?
Is the spectacle of that trial (or others like it) any different from a morality play in the late dark ages? Does the conviction of Zimmerman affect the fate of millions of black and hispanic men who have been incarcerated for victimless “crimes”? Does the acquittal of Zimmerman improve the living standard of whites? Will employers pay you more because Zimmerman is acquitted? Will they steal less from your paycheck or give you more vacation time? Will your medical bills or insurance premiums change because of this verdict?
Will the result of that trial dent the business model of Goldman-Sachs? Will it reduce speculation on the prices of gasoline? Will it make your medicines cheaper or food safer? Will it stop the NSA and other government agencies from spying on you? Will it stop CEOs from collecting tens of millions inspite of the performance of the corporations they head? Will it reduce the interest rate on student loans or make them dischargeable in bankruptcy? and why is higher education so expensive anyway?
It is obvious that most Americans are too bigoted, gullible and delusional to care about things that actually matter. They would rather spend their time arguing whether the latest piece of evidence or testimony finally proves that Trayvon was a “thug” or Zimmerman was an evil racist.
What do you think? Comments?