Saturday, November 24, 2007

what the old man said made some sense...

"I feel strongly that there ought to be fair justice."

George W. Bush
Washington, D.C., Sept. 20, 2007

The good people at Slate, with whom I am so frequently in unity, regularly runs a feature called "Bushisms." It holds the President up to ridicule for stumbling over his words. The quotation above is cited there as an example of the President's frequent inability to express himself coherently.

There are times I think that it's not fair to do this kind of thing to him. It's well known that he is mixing up what he says and we all know what he means. He is not really so inept as to think that "Is our children learning?" is acually correct, although I don't buy this thing about him "actually being a brilliant guy." He is not the sweetest peach in the box, but he is not a moron, and he is not a village idiot come a wanderin' out o' Texas.

So, since we all agree he is bright enough to find his rear with both hands, it aseems to me sometimes that ridiculing him for his inevitable slips of the tongue is a little like making fun of a stutterer.

And, in the case of this particular statement, I think it may not actually be a mistake--I think I agree with what the President actually said.

If one thinks of "justice" as a product, a commodity, an outcome that is dealt out by a court (in effect, as a decision) then there is such a thing as fair and unfair "justice." I am sure that many people don't feel that the judgment that was made in their case was "justice" (ask anyone involved in a divorce or, perhaps, about a traffic ticket) and that there are many who feel that factors other than pure equity or pure application of law to facts are often determinative--especially when members of one group come up against those of another, or against the state (which amounts, of course, to coming up against another group).

The Old Testament prophets were always talking about "judgment" in this sense when they decried justice for sale, through bribery ("gifts") and favoritism toward the powerful (as opposed to doing what the law said in regard to widows and orphans).

So, justice is a synonym for "fair" only when it is not corrupt, when the decisions, the judgments handed down by the courts, are consistent with the policies of the various constitutions of the states and the federal governent and of the laws that flow from them. If those policies are frustrated in the administration of justice then, indeed, it is fair to say that justice is "unfair."

So, like the President, I feel strongly that there ought to be fair justice. Fudge--I do hate it when I find I agree with him about something. Well, he can't be wrong all the time.

1 comment:

Bessie said...

Great work.