Although I will always be on the side of Justice, sometimes it gets a little wearying to watch and hear people do and say the same things from one episode to another, one town or city to another, whenever there is an event (call it what you will) that stirs up their deepest emotional anger and outrage.
When people start rallying (or rioting) for “justice” for the person of their cause, this time in Baltimore, what they are really saying with their actions as well as their words is that they already know “the other side” is the enemy, the other side (be it the police, another race, the “system” or someone else) is wrong; that “they” (one or more of those mentioned above) are responsible for what happened, and they (the rioters) want — demand — justice.
There can be no justice for “one.” Justice, by its very nature, has to be for all. And justice in this country requires getting all the facts — to the extent that it is possible — before making any decision.
Those necessary facts are even necessary for ever having a resolution for all those involved, no matter where the fault lies.
When “justice” doesn’t go the way certain people want it to go, they automatically believe that justice was not done. That could possibly be the case, but without due process and the examination of all the facts, either side could say the same thing.
Right now, all the facts are not in. What if it turns out that what really happened is something very different from what many on either side think? Freddie Gray’s own friend and bail bondsman who spoke on TV said something interesting. He said that the police never buckle anyone into their seatbelts in the so-called paddy wagon, so perhaps all that buzz about the lack of using a seatbelt was thrown in to possibly create some additional ill will. But then, what about the condition Freddie Gray was in before he even entered the paddy wagon?
I’ve noticed that no one ever hopes out loud that the police were doing their job the best they could. (Isn’t that what we would all really want?) And no one ever says that sad as it may be, maybe the victim somehow contributed to his or her own death. (And those two statements go for any situation that involves the police and the death of the one they were apprehending, not just the situation in Baltimore.) When we watch war movies, don’t we ever wish for the war to end, to stop the killing on both or all sides? or for all those involved to reach some kind of peace agreement? Riots seem to be mini-wars in that those who are rioting are AGAINST a segment of society (the supposed enemy), or against a concept, rule, law, or type of standard or official behavior that they find unacceptable and feel the need to revolt against in that very physical, riotous way. And those who are sent in to quell the riot are the very ones that pour on additional fuel to spark the rioters’ rage. And rioters, as it always
appears, seem to be filled with enough of that rage-energy to keep it going if the “riot-quellers” cannot, will not, or do not quell it.
Sad to say most rioters don’t seem to want to know or believe that most people are and probably would be on the side of their just cause, but they lose that feeling of sympatico when they see the rioters lash out thoughtlessly and heartlessly at anyone and everything in their path — harming, hurting and destroying the businesses run by their own people, their own neighbors; police cars that will cost their own city money to repair or replace; fire equipment that is trying to halt the damage done to their own buildings by their own hands. In other words, if those who are wronged then turn around and wrong others (and often in some strange kind of one-upmanship that amounts to a cutting-off-their-nose-to-
People-at-large, however, will always feel compassion for a just cause; and in that vein, I can’t emphasize enough how people ought to deal with their causes in a way that will not only garner that support, but achieve that resolution. Violence in response to violence and anger in response to anger only puts more violence and anger into the world.
Regarding justice, it almost doesn’t matter on which side the blame comes down: justice requires sifting through the facts, hearing the witnesses, and evaluating the evidence. And if people want true justice — not justice ordered up according to their beliefs — they better be prepared for the outcome to be other than what they would wish for, just in case, since truth does not take sides.
Just because we believe something is true doesn’t make it true. And just because one thing is true, does not mean all the other things are true. Justice is far more than a feeling, a desire, or a case of adding up so-called facts. Justice cannot be rushed to please a city, a crowd, or a grieving relative. Justice requires free reign, among impartial evaluators, for as long as it takes to bring out her true colors and to let herself be known. So, let Justice do her thing.
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at email@example.com.