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11:38 am: Our justice systems

Anyone who is paying any attention at all realizes that there are a few different systems of justice in the United States. In case you’re not paying attention, or you don’t have the time and inclination: Let me break it down. There are four major classes in America.

At the bottom, we have what I like to call “the slave class.” This includes people in the country without full documentation and citizenship, as well as anyone working in technically illegal professions. These folks live in fear of having to go to the police, because “justice” will immediately circle back to their inferior status. “Yes I know that you were beaten within an inch of your life, but hey, we’re gonna deport you first. Who beat you? Who beat who?

Ever wonder why the working conditions are allowed to be so bad in hotbeds of work for undocumented immigrants? Ever wonder why they don’t just go to the authorities? Yeah. That.

In this bottom regime, the left and right are pretty opinionated. Conservatives seem to err on the side of “they’re sinners, they go to hell, who cares about their human rights?” Liberals err on the other side, “love your neighbor, even the undocumented one who cleans your house.” Something like that.

One step up from there, for people with fairly ordinary amounts of money, we have the regular “letter of the law” criminal justice system. The usual punishment is jail time – sometimes ridiculous amounts of it. Sometimes you can pay a fine, but there’s always a very real risk of the tooth removing, sphincter loosening variety of incarceration.

This is where I live. If I were to commit crimes. I would go (thanks “Office Space”) to Pound me in the ass federal prison.

Whether it’s stealing from a local store, doing illegal drugs, paying for sex (did you hear the Charlie Sheen version, where he doesn’t pay for the sex? Instead, he pays the girls to leave. he’s a lovely human being, more on that some other time) embezzling, failing to pay your taxes, or whatever. This is the world of relatively balanced complaints from the right and the left. The right complains that the system does not perfectly convert crime into jail time, that sometimes mercy is shown. The left complains that the system is stupid in that it punishes someone more harshly for peacefully sitting at home and “banging 7 gram rocks,” (I just can’t get over Charlie Sheen. He’s a slow motion trainwreck) as it does for crippling a pedestrian with a motor vehicle. There’s no difference between victim-free crimes and actual victim riddled crimes. However, in favor of the criminal justice system – we can look at the laws and argue about whether they are right or wrong. We can change them through legislative action.

Up another level, we have the justice system for people with lots of money. Except that this isn’t a justice system, it’s a treatment and rehabilitation system. Take Mr. Sheen, yet again. He brags about using illegal drugs, paying for sex, and so on. He seems likely to be a serial domestic abuser. He’s going on TV to gripe about getting laid off, and I expect to see the novelization soon. Seriously. I would buy that crap. “Terrestrial sphere?” Who talks like that? See also Paris Hilton and OJ Simpson. At a certain level you usually go into the treatment path rather than the punishment path – except for particularly egregious crimes.

The left and the right are generally united that this is a bad thing of small magnitude. Nobody cares, really, about Charlie Sheen. We’re entertained by him – and we’re not willing to rock the boat to be sure that he does time with Bubba the pot peddler.

Finally, at the top, we have the folks who make the rules. The Wall Street bankers. The big oil CEOs. Kings of industry. Their crimes are so large and so broadly distributed that – and this is sphincter clenchingly obvious: they are not even perceived as crimes.

No Wall Street executive (or vice) has gone to prison for costing the majority of the country years of their retirement. No one will ever stand to account for invading Iraq instead of Afghanistan. No one will be negotiating with Bubba over fouling the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, for driving various species into extinction, or for quietly nodding and ignoring the continent sized Pacific gyre of plastic trash.

The entire preceding three classes, the left and the right, and every major issue of the day – all of these are merely a smokescreen to prevent us from looking too hard at this top class.

Wake the hell up, people.

Originally published at chris.dwan.org. You can comment here or there.



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