“We first crush people to the earth, and then claim the right of trampling on them forever, because they are prostrate.” – Lydia Maria Francis Child
What do you think of the quote? Is this a pessimistic view, or is this a glimpse into a dark side of humanity that we try to ignore? I believe strongly in justice, but I also believe that justice without equality isn’t really justice. It’s something entirely different, something ugly.
Two separate incidents come to mind that paint a picture of the disparity that sometimes exists in justice. Here are the brief stories of two young people – Ethan Couch and Cyntoia Brown.
Ethan Couch was only 16 when he crashed into a group of pedestrians, killing four and seriously injuring two. The boy had stolen two cases of beer and was speeding at 70 MPH (with passengers) when he hit the pedestrians. Ethan also tested positive for Valium and had a blood-alcohol level of three times the legal limit for adults. In aggravation, this was not Ethan’s first alcohol-related offense.
Did I forget to mention that Ethan’s family has money? They are wealthy and affluent. The ability to pay for stellar representation made all of the difference. What happened to Ethan, the boy who never expressed any remorse? He was said to be “a product of affluenza” and was unable to link his bad behavior with consequences. So what did the “justice-wielding” judge do here? Ethan was “sentenced” to rehabilitation at a $450,000 per year facility complete with horse riding, mixed martial arts, massage and cookery, a swimming pool and basketball, all so the poor teen could be rehabilitated and learn that wealth doesn’t buy privilege.
Now we have Cyntoia Brown. She grew up in a home with a drunk and abusive stepfather along with a drug-addicted prostitute mother. She ran away from home at 13 and tried to make a living on the street. Cyntoia had an older boyfriend who would pimp her out for money. When she was 16, her boyfriend beat her. She tried to find refuge when a 43-year-old man approached and asked if she was alright. Cyntoia told her story to the stranger, who then solicited her for sex. Hours after the older man picked her up for sex, something happened and Cyntoia killed the man to protect herself.
What did she get? Life in prison. She will be eligible for parole when she is 67.
Justice. Yeah, right. Justice my ass. Cases like this are disgusting, revolting, and sometimes make me want to throw down my badge.
A man by the name of Honoré de Balzac once said “Laws are spider webs through which big flies pass and the little flies get caught.”
So, what is the price of this kind of injustice?
It destroys the idea of a system meant to protect and serve the people. It bastardizes the notion of justice and equality. It pushes the average individual further into a dark gulf where they doubt and recoil from a system that no longer serves them.
Is this always the case? Fortunately it isn’t, but it is the case much more often than it should be.
When we lose Lady Justice, we are left with a sword-wielding whore.