You be the judge…
If anyone needs additional evidence—after recent Supreme Court rulings—that the US justice system is screwed up, look no further than the award of $23 billion—yes, billion, not million—to an individual who’s husband died, allegedly, from too much smoking.
All are aware that corporations lie, especially tobacco and oil corporations (obviously taking a lesson from the politicians they buy), and that they should be punished for their evil ways, but what is one lady going to do with so much money? Why not force the company to put that money into cancer research, which would be more useful?
Common sense seems to have no place in the United States, a land ruled by money, crooked and/or inept politicians, and stupid courts.
Some quotes with disturbing facts from a New Yorker article about life in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave:
“Six million people are under correctional supervision in the U.S.—more than were in Stalin’s gulags.”
“...American prisoners, huge numbers of whom are serving sentences much longer than those given for similar crimes anywhere else in the civilized world...”
“Texas alone has sentenced more than four hundred teen-agers to life imprisonment.”
“More than half of all black men without a high-school diploma go to prison at some time in their lives.”
“In truth, there are more black men in the grip of the criminal-justice system—in prison, on probation, or on parole—than were in slavery then.”
“In the past two decades, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education.”
“Blacks are now incarcerated seven times as often as whites.”
“If mass incarceration is considered as a system of social control—specifically, racial control—then the system is a fantastic success.”
“Northern impersonality and Southern revenge converge on a common American theme: a growing number of American prisons are now contracted out as for-profit businesses to for-profit companies.”
“Brecht could hardly have imagined such....a capitalist enterprise that feeds on the misery of man trying as hard as it can to be sure that nothing is done to decrease that misery.”
Hellseher: clairvoyant, visionary. It is a combination of hell, which can mean light, bright, lucid, or fair (but never as used by Christian fear-mongers), and sehen, which means to see.
I must be ein Hellseher. Did I not write several months ago that the arrogant, double-barreled alleged sex fiend would walk free in New York, despite having admittedly engaged in some form of intercourse—verbal and/or non-verbal—with a hotel maid?
People get the justice they can afford, not necessarily what they deserve.
I noticed a news item about Singapore meting out punishment on a man’s meat (bad pun intended). Although this form of punishment seems to linger in parts of the world formerly associated with the British Empire, I can recall no such pain being inflicted in the United States. Of course, there was tarring and feathering, stocks, hanging, overcrowded prisons, and, more recently, water-boarding for lucky foreigners.
What’s my point? I want to point out different justice systems in different parts of the world and how different stories attract attention.
In the US, a young Florida woman captured a great deal of air time recently, and a large portion of the population reached a different conclusion about her guilt than did the jury charged with trying her case. This falls into the category of: if you have an opinion, then you must be right…in your mind, at least.
A different kind of verdict is causing anger at the justice system in Germany. More lenient courts have resulted from losing a war and subsequent evolvement of a liberal society. Laws are based upon paragraphs and not precedent, so lawyers have less wiggle room. Trials are boring and usually ignored by all except participants. Sentences are mild and often suspended. Fines are minimal, compared to the idiocy meted out in the US.
What’s causing people to get their Lederhosen in a twist? A student kidnapped a young boy from a wealthy banking family (he had been the boy’s tutor, so the child trusted him) and sent a ransom note to the parents. He was quickly captured, but refused to reveal the boy’s whereabouts. The police threatened harsh interrogation treatment (mild compared to the kind favored by US authorities), after which he led police to where he had stashed the boy. Unfortunately, the boy was found to be dead. The student was sentenced to a few years for unlawful death. Once in jail, he sued the police for violating his rights during the interrogation. He demanded 6000 euros. Today, the court ruled in his favor, but awarded only 3000 euros. In the end, he made money from the kidnapping, but the boy is still dead.
It’s easy to see why many Germans are upset at the judges. I’m not so sure about the Florida case, because I do not know enough to be prejudiced.
The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but...lies.
There is a familiar saying about justice being blind. It truly is.
Human memory can deceive its owner. Even for an intelligent person with the best intentions and the best effort, the past quickly becomes grainy. Memory is fragile, even if people believe what it tells them. Selective recall and mixed reminisces lead to incorrect testimony. Increased use of closed circuit television does not completely solve the problem. Every event is witnessed from myriad angles; each person has his or her own narrative and selective memory of what transpired. Few jot down notes at the time of witnessing something about which they might have to testify in court.
A person might swear on a bible (Are atheists free to lie?) to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In reality, they are making a promise they cannot keep and only hoping to tell the truth, an edited version of the whole truth, and nothing but little more than omissions, wishful thinking, and lies. And, of course, that is without considering intentional efforts to attack and discredit the victim, which has become a standard feature of all trials.
There have been a number of stories in the media about powerful men being naughty. Powerful men are always being naughty, but the media don’t normally take an interest...especially in Europe. Of course, many seem to claim that the victim was at fault or complicit. If a trial should ever ensue, expensive lawyers always attack the victim and praise the benefits to society that only their client can bestow. Powerful men must be exonerated, and weak victims must be punished. Naturally, such a case would never arise in France, because the weak are not permitted to accuse those in power.
When listening to commentators and reading editorials, I could not help but wonder about all those victims that do not make it into the news. They do not have to worry about powerful or influential friends rallying to the support of perpetrators. They must be concerned only about destroyed lives and recurring nightmares. According to some, these women should be grateful for the attention of such a great man or, if attacked by a nobody, the woman should be grateful for the attention of any man.
In the case of the powerful, other men seem to avoid pointing a finger out of fear of being branded “not one of the boys”, fear of losing access, fear of losing job opportunities, or fear of not being invited into the club, where lavish hospitality is always copious and free. Of course, many are guilty of similar loutish behavior and secretly applaud such antics. After all, men are supposed to act that way, which explains why Berlusconi remains in power for so long.
I’ve heard commentators in the French media complain about harsh treatment in the United States of one of their own, ignoring the fact that they might be complicit in the suffering of many of his victims over the years. Because he felt immune to having his behavior revealed in the French media, perhaps the man felt free to commit the crimes he has been alleged to commit. The sense of entitlement arises out of more than ego. Not surprising, each day reveals new stories about his behavior, which past victims have been afraid to admit.
The United States may have its faults, but at least the weak are permitted to have their day in court, which is hardly possible in France. Still, the weak must be strong...and have a good lawyer...because the tables are turned in a courtroom.
The behavior of these men is difficult for me to understand, because I have never felt the urge to take what was not mine or what was not offered to me...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.