Are we just one bad experience away from descending into mob-rule and vigilante justice? Is America so filled with anger that we no longer are able to see the distinction between justice and vengeance? More importantly, have we lost sight of the inherently evilness to vengeance?
I, along with 10s if not 100s of thousands of people watched with interest as the verdict was announced in the Jerry Sandusky trial. I, along with most (I suspect) feel that he was most likely guilty, and thus the court reached the “right” conclusion. For me, it was a somber moment. A time for reflection, and acknowledgement that our justice system provides a reasoned, deliberate process for evaluating evidence and reaching conclusions.
While I was ready to say the same thing had the verdict gone the other way, I was concerned about the general (vitriolic) reaction in society–and I thought that, with a guilty verdict, things would quiet down. But I was wrong.
America–you really do scare me. The justice system found the man guilty and he faces a minimum of 60, and up to 445 years in prison, and yet people in society feel that isn’t enough. For instance, there’s this gem from Twitter:
Or this one, where the tweeter has passed judgement on Joe Paterno as well (without evidence):
And finally these:
Because yes–all the coaches somehow must have known what was going on, and thus somehow must have just turned a blind eye.
What is most troubling here is that people are actually not satisfied with the outcome. They feel that “justice” isn’t enough. They feel that somehow, since he will die long before he completes the 445 years in prison, that something else must be done. That simple justice (catching the guy, convicting the guy, and putting him in prison) isn’t enough. That either others must also pay (apparently without evidence or benefit of trial) or that somehow allowing him to continue breathing isn’t enough.
That’s Vengeance. And it just rots a person from the inside out. And if it does that to a person, what does it do to the core of a nation?
America–we need to return to a nation of laws. A nation governed by precepts written in the Constitution and laws passed by our legislators. We need to stand up for order. And, when the laws are wrong or immoral, we work to change those laws through the system rather than rioting, or destroying property, or by feeding the hate through vitriolic speech. If you truly care about children and how we as a society behave, show then “the better angels of our nature.”
Put down the pitchforks. Douse the torches. Return to a civil society.
Before it’s too late.