“Yes, sir,” Arthur whispered.”
If it had been up to the judge, he would have thrown the book at Arthur T. Owens. He didn’t believe a word of the boy’s story.
“In other words,” the judge continued sternly, glaring at Arthur, “it is not the punishment I would have chosen for you.”
from The Seventh Most Important Thing
by Shelly Pearsall
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015
My most memorable, but by far not my only punishment was handed down and carried out by my mom. I’m pretty sure it had something to do with her let-the-punishment-fit-the-crime philosophy. Here’s what happened.
I said a bad word.
I don’t remember which word it was. I was young. Young enough for her to lift me up and sit me down on the closed toilet seat. Because that word must have been a “dirty” one, Mom cleaned my mouth out with soap. It was a new bar of Ivory, but still.
Maybe it really was just as painful for her. But, years later, when I asked her about it, she did not remember the incident. Well, that’s fair, I still don’t remember the word.
In our free democratic republic where laws are made by our elected officials and we agree to be governed, laws should be fair. After due process through our judicial system, punishments, when warranted, should fit crimes committed. Punishments should be administered fairly, regardless of a person’s background, color, gender, religious beliefs or no religious beliefs, economic status, political affiliation or no affiliation, well, you get the idea.
But life isn’t fair.
And we live in a violent society.
I could say the current mood of our country started with George Floyd’s murder. Or maybe it started with beating Rodney King to within inches of his life. But anytime one person has authority over another, there is a chance for violence to raise its ugly head. And that has been true for a very long time. Sometimes people take the law into their own hands. Sometimes, they feel justified in killing someone because they feel threatened. Sometimes they just get carried away.
In the United States, murder is a capital offense. If a perpetrator is found guilty, the death penalty can be imposed. Treason, espionage, large-scale drug trafficking, and a few other seriously heinous crimes are also capital offenses.
Trying to pass a counterfeit bill is not a capital offense, but death could be the horrible end result. Just ask George Floyd’s family.
Being in the wrong place at the wrong time can also result in death. Heather Heyer paid with her life.
The law gives police officers lots more leeway than the public. (You can look up my blog “All Kinds of Immunity,” posted 4/27/21 for my deep dive into “qualified immunity.”)
Kyle Rittenhouse killed two people and injured a third when he drove 30 minutes to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Illinois, with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Rittenhouse claims to have answered a call to help quell a protest after police wounded Jacob Blake on August 23, 2020. Rittenhouse was 17 years old.
It took the jury 3-1/2 days to clear him of all charges.
The Department of Justice is not seeking charges against the police officer who shot Mr. Blake seven times in the back and the side. He is paralyzed from the waist down.
Meantime, Rep. Matt Goetz (R-FL), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Rep. Madison Cowthorn (R-NC) all want Rittenhouse to become a congressional intern!
The three men accused of killing Ahmoud Arbery are charged with murder. Jury deliberation will begin this morning (11/23/21).
In 2017, white nationals traveled to Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, Confederate general during the Civil War. They called their protest “Unite the Right.” It turned deadly when James Fields, a neo-Nazi, plowed his car into the crowd of counter protesters and killed Heather Heyer. He injured several others. Fields was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Last Friday, (11/19/21) a jury began deliberating the civil case against the white nationalists who organized that 2-day rally. They are being tried for conspiracy to commit racial violence, [regular] violence, harassment, assault, and emotional distress.
The wheels of justice roll slowly. Facts are still being uncovered surrounding the January 6, 2021 insurrection. I first addressed this May 25, 2021, shortly before my blog break.
That riot was deadly. It was probably traitorous.
In these last few days before Thanksgiving, as I plan for food and family, I’m also thinking of those families who can’t be together, for whatever reason.
--stay curious! (and thoughtful)