Justice would seem to me, to be a cornerstone of society. Without the law and law enforcement, the prevailing wisdom is that we would be over run by crime. Justice is also about retribution. An eye for an eye. It may not be enough that a criminal regrets his actions, but the victim may want his pound of flesh in return.
But justice, law and society are man made things. Without humans they would not exist. I was reminded recently of the film, '12 Angry Men'. It is an important story, if only to show people that preconceptions about the world can influence decision making. At the start of the film, all the juror's bar one, feel that the defendant (a young man accused of murder) is guilty. Only Henry Fonda shows dissent and even he feels that the boy is probably guilty. But over the course of the film, the 12 men work through the evidence and one by one begin to doubt their original assessment of guilt. At the end of the film, all the jurors vote not-guilty, a situation that would have been very different had Henry Fonda not raised initial concern about the evidence.
Despite having been written in the fifties, the story remains pertinent today. One of the most disturbing documentary films I have ever seen was Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, directed by Berlinger and Sinofsky, regarding the horrific murder of three young boys. The film is a real life documentary with amazing access to the defendants, lawyers, families and even judge involved in the case. And what happens? Three teenage boys are apparently vilified by their local community for listening to heavy metal music and wearing black clothes. They are denounced as devil worshippers and one of the boys has been on death row for over 10 years. Did they commit the crime for which they were tried and punished? I don't know. But what I do know is justice is not science, but a serious process, handicapped by the inaccuracies and emotionality of human beings. I also know that a room full of jurors who have already made up their mind is not necessarily justice and that were the tables turned, I would want Henry Fonda fighting my corner. You can find more about the West Memphis 3 here.Go Top