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Posts Tagged ‘justice’

Addicted to Excuses

August 2, 2013 Leave a comment

What is the purpose of an excuse? Most often, it is used after someone has done something wrong. “I’m sorry, but…” precedes the reason explaining the mistake. Maybe lack of knowledge or some inability to control oneself lead the the mistake. Did a medical emergency strike you at an inopportune time and you had no choice but to act as you did?

Excuses can also be used to explain failure to act. “I’m sorry, but…” precedes the reason why you didn’t do the desired action. Maybe a missed party or a failure to provide some service. In these cases the excuse is used to explain the failure.

Other uses may exist, but both forms have a common goal: defer punishment. In the realization that a failure has occurred the actor who failed is asking to avoid punishment. An excuse is an explanation for a mistake. It both acknowledges that the error has occurred, and by its deployment, that a standard existed. It is the violation of the standard that establishes the fault (ie, the crashing of the car or drinking of the forbidden drink) and leads to the need for an excuse.

In some cases excuses are acceptable. “I didn’t know it was rude to wear red hats here on Sunday” seems like a valid excuse. Some unusual feature or rule of some place or group may be beyond the knowledge of a stranger.

Excuses fail more often than they succeed. “I’m sorry, I’m an addict” seems less an understandable explanation and more of a justification. If one uses an excuse, he or she is asking for forgiveness. “Don’t punish me because…” is the message beneath the spoken words. Excuses also acknowledge that a mistake has occurred, in essence saying, “I know what I did was wrong, but I don’t deserve punishment because…”

To grant validity to an excuse is to grant forgiveness. To deny one punishment on the basis of an excuse is to subvert the laws of justice. “You’ve broken the rules, but I’ll let you go.” Excuses aim to allow crimes and are a criminal’s most common tool of use. Honor them we may, but in doing so we risk depleting the very basis of our authority and suggesting that our rules aren’t really existent and what really matters is the charm from which your crimes can be explained.

More Hallowed Halls

July 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Beyond the walls of a court room the human mind remains the final bastion of justice. Whether one is falsely convicted or released despite a crime, he or she must come to terms with such results. Within the mind one must face the dialogue of personal responsibility. Might one’s guilt be greater if the individual is never forced to publicly acknowledge it? There is a sort of catharsis provided by a public conviction. Though innocent until proven guilty, one “does the time” for “doing the crime” and afterwards is released.

A prison sentence is a limited proposal- go to prison for X years and then be released. And yet while complications always follow such sentences, society largely sees the conclusion of a prison sentence a time of redemption. No matter what occurs following a public trial, the individual must face the mental conversations of these results. Whether guilty or innocent we will never know, but deep within the mental universe of every individual lies the truth. Perhaps the worst form of punishment comes for those denied a conviction. Released despite a crime leaves one to face the mental conversation of unjustified freedom and the sneaky itch of “getting away with it.”

Perceptive Limitations

November 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Despite the actuality of an event, if an individual unable to comprehend his or her actions our society often disregards terms of justice. For those unable to understand what he or she has done there are special terms of justice, alternative rules by which the rest of society reacts and a pseudo-alternative reality in which they exist. Do we “treat them with kid gloves” because they cannot know?

Distinct groups are afforded these alternative rules on the basis of limited comprehension. Children and the elderly are often seen as limited by age. Other groups are perceived to have limited mental capabilities that render comprehension incomplete or impossible. In both forms there is a limitation of comprehension in comparison to what we consider socially normal. In most cases, the limitations perceived in some warrant understanding from those not tasked with limitation; though, this is not always the case.

For some, a select group of actions warrant the disposal of these alternative rules. An individual perceived to be limited becomes equal when his or her behaviors so disgust society that limitations are no longer under consideration. Often the existence of a victim is a key factor in this disposal of additional rights. Was someone hurt? Was damage done? In cases where great loss is created or great pain has been inflicted on an innocent figure our social actions of dispensing patience is adjusted.

Social rules remain liquid. While we may pride ourselves on a just system of punishment, we often discard these rules as emotion increases. Swayed by perceptions of victim hood or stories of suffering our goals for equal treatment become less important. This game of adjusting notions occurs in reverse situations when we seek to explain the actions of those deemed not limited. Irrational behavior is human and just like those who lose their temper or “fly off the handle” so to do social terms of justice and expectation.

Claims of Insane

August 20, 2012 1 comment

If one claims to be “insane” as a means to reduce or avoid punishment, what are the means used to establish such a conclusion? In claiming one’s insanity, must one not use standards of sanity as a means of comparison? Herein like the paradox: claiming to be insane requires an awareness of the standards of sanity and, by virtue of possessing these standards, a state of at the very least an awareness of standards of sanity.

If sanity is the means by which we judge one insane- i.e., an individual’s behavior differs from the standards of sanity, can we then conclude that awareness establishes sanity? Is insanity a choice? Truly one who is insane cannot understand the standards of sanity.

If one asserts to be insane we must assume that he or she has evaluated his or her behavior in relation to sane behaviors. Upon this reflection he or she has found the behavior to differ from standards of sanity. This process of reflection and conclusion reveal a state of sane brain functioning and reveal not the status of insanity but rather faulty reasoning.

This is not to disregard claims of insanity. Instead, I aim to suggest that claims of an individual to be insane are impossible. One who is truly insane is unable to make these claims accurately. Only when a status of insanity is demonstrated by an outside source can we truly consider the validity of the claim. The truly insane are unable to reason correctly and, if in claiming to be insane, demonstrating a level of sane brain functioning.

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