October 11, 2006

The Greater Evil

Earlier today I had a visit with the lay minister of the local Catholic Church. I enjoy talking to him as with his previous career as a lawyer he easily grasps the legal context of what is going on. Today we had a long debate about Justice Scalia’s recent opinion in Marsh v. Kansas, in which Scalia took the position that the claims of the innocent people being wrongfully condemned to death is overblown – that there are very few truly innocent people convicted as the system works. And that although the system is not perfect, the few mistakes are acceptable in the interest of the greater good.

Yeah __ I’ll bet he’d have a totally different opinion if he was the one wrongfully convicted and had to deal with a court system that increasingly erects procedural rules to prevent the claims of innocence from even being heard.

It is because of people like Justice Scalia that I’ve come to despise the Right Wing Conservative Movement. They live in their own small world where they never have to worry about becoming a victim of the very practices they advocate and then say that those who do fall victim to the system they’ve created are an acceptable collateral consequence for the greater good of accomplishing their own agenda. But just where does one draw the line as to what is considered “acceptable?” How many must be sacrificed before they can find it intolerable?

People like Scalia are so far removed from the reality of the world that they incapable of empathizing with those who do fall victim. To me, that’s the greater evil that exists today – that absence of moral conscience that allows those who do support such a system to see even the few wrongfully convicted as an acceptable sacrifice for their own greater good. And as they dare preach morality, they refuse to see why it’s morally wrong to allow such a system to exist without at least trying to prevent the injustices that do exist.

One must ask, at what point does a presumably civilized society become compromised by the cancer we allow to exist not out of necessity, but out of political will? Sure, there are a relatively small number of monsters out there that perhaps nothing less than killing would protect society from – but those true “monsters” only rarely get the death penalty. The reality of it is that the overwhelming majority of people condemned to death, get death, not because of the particular nature of there crime, but because of their inability to defend against the formidable resources of the state. It’s those unfortunate enough to get represented by incompetent lawyers typically appointed by the court.

~Attribution~Daryl Cagle, MSNBC.com