Friday, June 10, 2016

The Myth of Justice

Just listening to the book "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind" by Yuval Harari, who discusses the key role of "myths" (defined as things which have no physical existence) in our history.  He spreads his discussion widely, including religions, nations, corporations, etc. as myths.   I think he mentioned "justice" as one myth, though just in passing.

Got me to thinking about the two judges making the news: Judge Curiel, attacked by Trump as biased, and Judge Persky, attacked by millions as biased in sentencing the Stanford student convicted of sexual assault.  It seems to me the two go together, because the controversies are about justice.  No one would say that judges who graduate from Stanford should never sit in judgment on Stanford graduates, just as no one except Trump would say that a person whose parents immigrated from Mexico should never sit in judgment on Hispanic immigrants, or someone who disparages Hispanic immigrants. 

However, people do say that the commonalities of background between Persky and the student explain the sentence, meaning we know judges can be biased. On one side we have Trump claiming bias, on the other victim rights advocates claiming bias.  So  the myth of impartial justice is being threatened from two sides and much of the emotion in both debates is the community reinforcing the boundaries of justice.

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