Florida: Where the Stand Your Ground law will always agree that a white guy had a good reason to murder a black teenager.
Seems like this guy would’ve been in the clear if he’d managed to kill everyone in the car since the jury couldn’t decide on the one murder charge but had no trouble with all the attempted murder charges.
The whole situation is so incredibly disturbing for so many reasons. Not the least of which is how often this kind of thing keeps happening.
Almost 70 years ago, South Carolina electrocuted 14-year-old George Stinney, the youngest person to be executed by an American state since the 1800s. Family members today say he’s innocent, and while they can’t bring him back, they want his name cleared.
A black teen in the Jim Crow South, Stinney was accused of murdering two white girls, ages 7 and 11, as they hunted for wildflowers in Alcolu, about 50 miles southeast of Columbia.
Stinney, according to police, confessed to the crime. No witness or evidence that might vindicate him was presented during a trial that was over in fewer than three hours. An all-white jury convicted him in a flash, 10 minutes, and he was sentenced to “be electrocuted, until your body be dead in accordance with law. And may God have mercy on your soul,” court documents say.
Fewer than three months after the girls’ deaths, Stinney was escorted to an electric chair at a Columbia penitentiary, built for much larger defendants. The chair’s straps were loose on Stinney’s 5-foot-1-inch, 95-pound frame, and books were placed on the seat so he would fit in the chair.
On its website, CNN is asking: “Was execution of boy, 14, justice?”
This seemed to me like such an unbelievably ridiculous question for so many reasons that I was planning to do nothing but lampoon CNN in this blog post …
But then I read the comments.
And — guess what? — plenty of people think that the confession of a 14 year old is all the evidence you need for justice to be done; that the word of a white police officer who says a black boy confessed to killing two white girls is clearly unimpeachable in the Jim Crow South; that due process clearly doesn’t matter all that much when it comes to justice; and that, even if he was guilty, executing a 14 year old somehow equates with justice.
So, yeah, I guess a whole bunch of us still have no idea what justice means.
This is Tadahiro Kanemasu, the “Carry-Your-Pram-Ranger.”
He is an IRL superhero who chills out in a green outfit with silver trim and mask, waiting by the stairs of a Tokyo subway station to lend his strength and exquisite manners to the elderly and passengers who need help carrying heavy packages, as well as mothers with baby strollers. Photos by REUTERS/Yuya Shino.
So, this is pretty great.
But why does Tadahiro Kanemasu dress up in a superhero costume to help people carry things down the subway stairs? Why not simply dress normally?
I’m reminded of the story of the ring of invisibility found by Gyges the shepherd in Book II of Plato’s Republic, through which Glaucon alleges that no one who can act anonymously or in secret will act justly:
Now if there were two such rings, and the just man would put one on, and the unjust man the other, no one, as it would seem, would be so adamant as to stick by justice and bring himself to keep away from what belongs to others and not lay hold of it, although he had license to take what he wanted from the market without fear, and to go into houses and have intercourse with whomever he wanted, and to slay or release from bonds whomever he wanted, and to do other things as an equal to a god among humans. And in so doing, one would act no differently from the other, but both would go the same way. And yet, someone could say that this is great proof that no one is willingly just but only when compelled to be so. Men do not take it to be a good for them in private, since wherever each supposes he can do injustice, he does it. Indeed, all men suppose injustice is far more to their private profit than justice. And what they suppose is true, as the man who makes this kind of an argument will say, since if a man were to get hold of such license and were never willing to do any injustice and didn’t lay his hands on what belongs to others, he would seem most wretched to those who were aware of it, and most foolish too, although they would praise him to each others’ faces, deceiving each other for fear of suffering injustice (360c-d).
I’ve been thinking a lot about last night’s “Breaking Bad” series finale; what follows are some thoughts and impressions about justice and the moral universe of the show.
Spoilers abound, so click at your own risk.
Making powerful statements in 140 characters.
HT: Patrick Jones.
Scalia opened his talk with a reference to the Holocaust, which happened to occur in a society that was, at the time, “the most advanced country in the world.” One of the many mistakes that Germany made in the 1930s was that judges began to interpret the law in ways that reflected “the spirit of the age.” When judges accept this sort of moral authority, as Scalia claims they’re doing now in the U.S., they get themselves and society into trouble.
Scalia cited numerous issues that have been thrown to the courts — a woman’s right to an abortion, society’s right to execute someone for a crime, whether “homosexual sodomy” ought to be allowed — and claimed that judges are unqualified to answer them. Medical doctors, engineers, ethicists and even “Joe Six Pack” would be just as qualified as a legal professional to settle some issues that have come before the high court.
In other words, if the Supreme Court rules against the wishes of “Joe Six Pack” that executions constitute cruel and unusual punishment or that gays and lesbians have the constitutional right to equal treatment with their heterosexual fellow citizens, we’re obviously well on our way to Nazi Germany.
On the other hand, here’s an actual expert ”on the role of German courts during the period leading up to and during Adolf Hitler’s regime”:
A United States Holocaust Memorial Museum historian told an audience today at the Supreme Court of Ohio that pre-World War II German courts set the stage for Nazi atrocities by falling for promises of restoring order, professionalism and judges’ authority.
Even when the number of political prisoners held by the Ministry of Justice increased from 35,000 to 150,000 in the 1930s, Meinecke said the situation looked normal to jurists. “Jurists had no interest in questioning the legitimacy of the Nazi state, because it saved them from the abyss,” he said. “The court was afraid of being irrelevant.”
In his research, Meinecke said he uncovered one sitting judge who challenged Nazi practices. The judge, who objected to a secret killing program of mentally and physically disabled people, was removed from office. Another judge, who refused to take an oath to Hitler resulting in unlimited power, resigned from office. Neither judge was arrested. Other officials with objections were transferred to distant posts with little meaning and little power.
Slowly, Hitler remade the judiciary step-by-step in his own image. “He used the rules of democracy to destroy democracy,” Meinecke said. Jurists, obviously, couldn’t see where all this was headed and called the changes minor because they didn’t affect nonpartisan jurists, only Jews or those politically active, he said.
To me, this doesn’t sound quite like what Scalia has in mind when he talks about judicial activism on issues that ought to be left to the citizenry. Of course, Josef Sechserpack and the citizenry in Germany voted the Nazis into power in 1933, effectively making Hitler the German Chancellor … an inconvenient fact that Scalia omits from his lecture.
But, hey, whatever, right?
Spend some time with Jack Patterson this afternoon … if you’re looking to debate whether Nazis are actually bad guys who deserve punishment.
He begins by doubting the veracity of everyone reporting on the Nazi war criminal living in Minnesota. After three or four tweets about how the guy probably isn’t even a war criminal, he decides the guy was probably just a “small fry” and therefore not worth dealing with today. Much better to let him live out his life in peace, since being a war criminal isn’t a big deal — as long as you’re just a minor war criminal. This is especially true, he claims, because justice is just something the powerful say once they’ve won a war … rather than an actual thing we can talk about (like, for example, when we say that genocide is an injustice and punishing genocide is just).
From there, it’s a hop, skip, and jump to claiming that, really, everyone was committing atrocities back then and that we ought to concentrate our real efforts on dealing out justice not to Nazi war criminals of the past but — of course — to Jews who are committing atrocities against Palestinians today.
Well played, Jack. Well played.
Nazi Next Door
Mr. Karkoc is an active member of his neighborhood Ukrainian church, and remains physically active, taking regular walks without the aid of a cane or walker, and puttering in his garden.
“He was on the ladder the other day cleaning out the gutter,” said Stan Patrick, 70, who lives across the street.
Mr. Patrick suggested that the government should leave Mr. Karkoc alone. “If they confront him and go through a bunch of hullabaloo, he’ll probably have a heart attack and die. Just let him go about his business.”
Mr. Patrick is probably in the minority in the neighborhood — and around the world — who think that Michael Karkoc should be just left alone to “go about his business” …
… because it seems he’s something of a fugitive Nazi war criminal:
Michael Karkoc, 94, told American authorities in 1949 that he had performed no military service during World War II, concealing his work as an officer and founding member of the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion and later as an officer in the SS Galician Division, according to records obtained by the AP through a Freedom of Information Act request. The Galician Division and a Ukrainian nationalist organization he served in were both on a secret American government blacklist of organizations whose members were forbidden from entering the United States at the time.
Though records do not show that Karkoc had a direct hand in war crimes, statements from men in his unit and other documentation confirm the Ukrainian company he commanded massacred civilians, and suggest that Karkoc was at the scene of these atrocities as the company leader. Nazi SS files say he and his unit were also involved in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, in which the Nazis brutally suppressed a Polish rebellion against German occupation.
So, I’d say let’s go through with the “bunch of hullabaloo.”
(Source: The New York Times)
Research on justice and fairness suggests, not surprisingly, that reputation matters when it comes to good and bad behavior …
… which is basically what I argue when I write about online anonymity and bad behavior.
Guatemala’s constitutional court has overturned a genocide conviction against former dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt, throwing out all proceedings against him since a dispute broke out in April over who should hear it.
Ríos Montt was found guilty on 10 May of overseeing the deliberate killings by the armed forces of at least 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil population during his 1982-83 rule. He was sentenced to 80 years in prison.
But the constitutional court said it had thrown out all proceedings in the case that took place after 19 April. It was then that the trial against Ríos Montt was suspended after a spat between judges over who should take the case.
Sebastian Elgueta, Amnesty International’s researcher on Guatemala outlines the serious and far-reaching problems raised by the constitutional court’s ruling:
"The legal basis for the ruling is unclear, and it is uncertain how the trial court can hit the reset button to get back to a point in mid-April. What is clear is that the Constitutional Court has just thrown up formidable obstacles to justice and accountability for a harrowing period in Guatemala’s recent history.
"With the sentence on 10 May, the trial court had sent a strong signal that crimes against thousands of Mayan victims would not be tolerated. The Constitutional Court has now questioned that message, putting the right to truth, justice and reparation at risk in Guatemala."