Top News

Governments, laws are instruments of justice

['letter to the editor']
['letter to the editor']

Dear editor: “Damage is being done,” said Russell Wangersky in his column Aug. 12.

He was referring to the harm victims of sexual assault suffer when their attackers are not convicted, and to the wrong done when the courts therefore fail to redress the injustice done those victims, so that this “clearly is not justice for all.”

Mr. Wangersky asked how the legal system can be improved to avoid that, without taking away the legal presumption of innocence from accused persons.

Maybe it’s not the legal system that needs “improving” but the modern way of life. For that way of life is not ordinarily the pursuit or practice of justice but rather a pursuit of pleasure, or of mostly monetary profit, to which the ordinary principles of justice, which ought to govern human life, must seem largely irrelevant. If everyone were so engaged as to deserve by his or her deeds what he or she wants to have, then crimes like sexual assault might well stand out so clearly as evident violations of a norm that courts would have no difficulty convicting the perpetrators.

One can’t expect an “artificial” system of legislation to provide “justice for all” where most are not naturally concerned about justice in the first place. Governments and laws are instruments of justice, not its origin. Seeing what justice is requires a mind, and governments have no minds but are the products of minds.  Where people are not trying to deserve what they get, it is almost “natural” that they sometimes “get” undeserved misfortunes such as failure of a court to redress injustice.

It is not “blaming the victim” (for the offence) to say that although only the perpetrator is guilty of his offence, yet the misfortune that the wrong against her is not redressed is still in some sense the victim’s own misfortune for which the law or a court is not responsible.

Of course, hinting at all that a victim’s own behaviour might be to some degree a source of difficulty in securing a conviction against the man who attacked her, would run against the presumption that women themselves never make mistakes with respect to “having sex,” but that presumption would seem to be a corollary of the hallowed doctrine that a woman is always right when she decides to have an abortion, the occasions for which originate in decisions to “have sex.”

Much current reaction to acquittals in sexual-assault trials almost seems to militate against the “equality with men,” with regard to “having sex,” that the “sexual revolution” was supposed to have conferred on women. For that reaction almost seems to view women as minor wards for whose behaviour men are responsible.

Colin Burke, Port au Port

Recent Stories