Monday 5th September
I have just noticed on the BBC news that they are using the word “Justice” in a strange way, and it is a development that has been encroaching in our Media for some time. They were talking about the wretched Libyan conflict, which seems to have been going on forever, but is actually only about six months old. One of the long-standing problems this country has had with the Libyans was the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher, way back in the eighties. The authorities in this country believe they have identified the member of the Libyan embassy staff who pulled the fatal trigger, and naturally want to bring him to Justice. Fair enough – one cannot just go about shooting people willy-nilly, although of course, under certain circumstances such as a war, or a semi-officially authorised conflict, that is exactly what happens. Strange how the death of one individual often assumes immense importance whereas mass genocide, or “collateral damage”, as our American friends so nicely put it, are ignored with a general shrugging of the shoulders. But that is really beside the point. The point I was attempting to make was that the news report talked of “Justice for Yvonne Fletchers family”; as if the whole panoply of laws passed, police investigations, and lawyers acting at a trial were solely for the benefit of the victim’s family. This is actually a codeword for “Revenge”, a sanitized semi-legal type of revenge maybe, but revenge alright. There is, or should be, no “Justice”, especially for the victims, tragic as that may be for them. Justice is a concept that is about the attempt by mankind to be fair and responsible in dealing with an alleged perpetrator of a crime, and in finding the truth and coming to a just decision. Invariably these days, it means that Justice is done when that alleged person is found guilty, and usually when they have received a very heavy sentence. But, it is of course, equally Justice, if, after a fair trial, and hearing all of the evidence, the alleged is released, or given a very minimal sentence.
You may accuse me of being pedantic; (that won’t bother me at all, I have heard that particular one many times before) but I think that this is important. Unless, of course, you go along with President Obama, who declared that the assassination of the truly despicable and nasty Osama Bin Laden, was an example of Justice being carried out. Heaven help us, is all I can say.