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That Hoary Old Goddess I Miss

.....and the whory one that replaced her

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, June 29, 2005.

I’d like to redirect snarky attention away from the exposed breast on the Department of Justice statuary, recently re-revealed. We need to remember the hoary – that’s spelled h-o-a-r-y – the hoary old image of Justice as a blindfolded woman holding a level scale. Only facts and law are weighed, and she apportions justice according to which side sinks and loses. Why does she need to be blindfolded? So that the physical beauty or retina-searing ugliness of a petitioner, or the gender, or race, or caste, or obvious wealth, or a courtroom full of shills, or other irrelevant aspects, do not figure in her decision, and she only coldly and objectively renders a verdict based on truth. She is Justice, after all. She cannot sorta/kinda be objective, and the people have to know she maintains objectivity and so have faith in the law, the pillar of society. That’s what the statue represents.

For centuries, that blindfold has been folded further and further up, and we now claim that objectivity that doesn’t include considerations of race, upbringing, emotional scarring, and sugar intake isn’t justice at all. The once objective goddess is chained in front of a wide screen, high definition presentation of the sort of opinion and emotional feelings that are the damnation of our current system and feared by those who conceived the goddess. It’s a major problem because of our variable insistence on rendering verdicts based upon our assumptions of what the equally variable punishments might be. Guilt, innocence should be clear and certain and coldly rendered. Punishments can vary to obtain best result for our society, but the procedure for attributing guilt or preponderance of responsibility for a wrong cannot.

In all our courts, in every case, this once treasured goddess is now confronted with every conceivable incident that affected the lives of the participants, or purport to. And what was once a suelte, purposeful young goddess standing strong, just, and blind is now a blubbery, slack-eyed Gorgon eating Bonbons on the couch as various legal jugglers and confidence men try to move her to tears. The scale of justice is just her snack caddy now.

Today, in criminal and civil trials, the very things that Justice was conceived to abhor and prohibit is now the central portion, and often the one the public makes its decision on. In order to get more publicity for the DA’s and the defense attorneys, a great deal of time is handed over to personal suffering of people whose often terrible acting jobs are the fodder of the media, and what once was considered over the top melodrama is now a standard script.

A year ago here in Boulder, a drunk man offered two women a ride late one night. He sped along residential streets and smashed into a traffic island with a large boulder, and one woman was killed outright, the other injured.

He was sentenced this week to five years in prison with five years probation for vehicular homicide. He is contrite, as he should be, and takes full responsibility. I have no problems with any of this, absent the event itself, no comment about the sentence as too long or short. I want to point out carefully that I do not wish to make fun of any of the parties here, because this is just a handy and typical case.

But The Daily Camera’s coverage of the man’s sentencing yesterday is illustrative of my issues. The defendant’s attorney – and I partially quote – “…told the court” the defendant “used alcohol in part to numb his feelings of rejection from his mother.” That could come from a Simpson’s episode. A victim’s “…siblings took a turn telling the court about their sister and how she loved life and people. She cried as a middle-schooler for the world's homeless, and talked as an adult about helping troubled youth. Friends from across the globe waited in a three-hour line to pay their respects at (her) wake.”

I doubt none of that. I think it was an insecure and drunk kid showing off, and I have surety the dead girl was an angel. It’s just that my reaction is, as I believe the Goddess’ should be, so what? Would he be any less guilty if he wasn’t drunk and just speeding and showing off? Should his sentence be altered if the victim was a crack whore he’d picked up? If so, why? Isn’t it just as irresponsible to kill a prostitute as the future St. Theresa?

The Goddess of Justice I revere wouldn’t know or care about the young man’s childhood or drinking problem. He was speeding recklessly and his incompetence and stupidity killed a woman. The Goddess of Justice I defend wouldn’t know or care if his victim trolled for tricks on Colfax or souls in Ebola wards. She was an innocent to the act, and he took her life. ‘Next?’

The sitting goddess now is a whory old goddess, responding like Pavlov’s dog to crocodile tears and celebrity, race, and elective chemical imbalance. And that’s spelled w-h-o-r……y, I guess.