Avoiding the Dirty Business of Justice and Politics is Not a Good Solution
Politics and Law is the business of Justice. And the Business of Justice, law and politics, is a very dirty business.
Periodically, whenever I feel safe and secure in the knowledge of my place in the world and in my profession as a lawyer practicing somewhat boring law fields, I go visit a court or a jail for a field trip. If you have never done it, in whatever country you live in, you should. Because the experience will remind you of the complexity of morality and fairness.
Butchers toil in blood and guts, so that the rest of us can have meat to eat, separated from the unwanted bits of hair, nails, undigested unidentifiable things.
Lawyers and law makers toil in immorality, so that the rest of us can have moral laws, separated from the harsh choices and the dirty dealings.
I am recently reminded of “frontier lawyering”, a style of lawyers in US early days, when lawyers would resort to great trickeries of switching seats of defendants to test potential witnesses, or try to trip up a witnesses in court. Such practices are now frowned upon generally, because they are considered too dirty and too unfair.
But the legal systems are still full of trickeries, they are never gone. It’s just we have shifted to more modern styles of trickeries, smearing each other in court, passive aggressive tactics, or paying consultants to uncover dirty secrets.
The political system is no less dirty. Politicians are still being bribed, influenced, pressured.
Every client proclaims his/her innocence, every politician proclaims righteousness in his/her cause.
But let’s face it, when you are staring at that piece of steak on your plate, you may not see, but you cannot doubt the existence of all the blood and unwanted bits that the Butchers had to separate out. Nor can you be absolutely certain that there might be some unwanted bits still in/on your steak.
As someone who has done some butchering in his youth, and someone who has done some butchering in the legal system, I can assure you, even if you do it yourself, you cannot be sure.
The point of this story is, too many people complain about the butchers and the lawyers, without ever bothering to question their own judgments in morality.
Yes, that’s right, the average person commits crimes every day. It’s just that most societies (and their law makers) forgive the common minor crimes, and choose NOT to force you to confront with your immorality and force you to separate yourself from your occasional immoral transgressions.
Yes, Butchers make money from you, but Butchers do so because they know you don’t want to do what they do.
But in doing so, the People have become squeamish about blood and immorality. Take for example, US states that want to executive prisoners, but ran out of lethal injections, they are forced to confront the idea of using “firing squads” or the “electric chair” or “hanging” or “gas chamber”. The US public, it seems, don’t mind killing prisoners, just don’t want the “ickiness” of execution.
I suppose the same public would probably prefer to have their meat thoroughly washed with bleach, if not for the terrible after taste. Or just have meat grown in genetic cloning labs, if not for the horror movie type “ickiness” of that.
Another example may be “democracy” itself, a system designed to really put up the appearance of “clean” in an inherently dirty business of politics, so that at least the public does not see the dirtiness. I am reminded of the recent clip I saw of the “dolphin slaughter” in Japan, where they drew up a giant curtain over a a part of a bay, to conceal the brutal slaughter of dolphins from any possible video camera nearby.
If you don’t see, does it really make it better?
Getting back to “democracy”, what is it? The sort of everyone hands off, limited responsibility, limited power, limited exposure to a giant process (where supposedly everyone can participate). Well, in a simple analogy, it’s like butchering a cow where 1000 people each stab once into the cow, instead of one or a few butchers doing the job. (Yeah, it’s icky, but that’s what it is like).
Now see a common US law, sponsored, debated, amended, and voted upon by more than 500 politicians from more than 1 party. What comes out is like a steak that was cut by 500 amateur butchers. Not very clean, and rather misshapen.
The other system, (where butchers of 1 party do the job), may end up with a dirty steak, depending on whether the butchers are any good and whether you can trust the butchers.
The theory of the “democracy” is, well, you can always change the butchers in the 500 or so, if they did a terrible job. But the reality is, you have no idea if they are doing a terrible job, nor who is really responsible.
So, the lesson here is to say, those who draw upon ideologies are doing so purely to avoid the dirty businesses of justice and politics. Ideologies do not make the business cleaner. The systems must be dirty in part to deal with all the dirt and immorality of human society. And if you avoid that reality, you cannot possibly understand the true nature of politics and laws in which you live. Only through periodic self-reflection of that reality, that all STEAKS may be tainted, can you truly accept the risks, of meat and politics.