On the Other Hand...

by Jim Davies

Government Justice: Beyond Repair


At 6.45 pm Central on February 3rd, agents of the government "justice" system deliberately terminated the life of Karla Faye Tucker, a then-harmless human being. Many people had seen her, interviewed a month earlier by Larry King, and we saw a wholesome, good-natured, gentle, bright, generous, upbeat person who would enrich, enliven and improve any community in which she lived.

She was also married, and young enough to raise a family if the government had let her out from behind bars. Not even those who wanted her to die could credibly allege that, by surviving, she would bring society anything but good.

But the government killed her, anyway; and in doing so, demonstrated beyond doubt that its "justice" system is irreparably broken. If it can do that, to such a person, when all ordinary common sense dictates otherwise, it has travelled so far from common sense as to be beyond recall and repair. It is time, rather, to scrap and replace the lot with something far, far better.

To secure that point firmly, let's note that this was not an oversight or mistake. The question of Ms Tucker's future was carefully weighed for 14 years, by all members of the "justice" monopoly who might reasonably have had anything to do with the case. Every nicety of the law was observed; from which we should draw the inescapable conclusion that the Law, and the System, is an Ass. You wanted government to provide justice?- what it gave you was a corpse. Governor Bush of Texas, who held the ball on its final pass, bleated that he had "been elected to uphold the Law" and failed to imagine that the letter of the Law could ever, even slightly, be nonsensical. Texans might just as well have elected a robot. He polled his voters, no doubt accurately, and found that a majority stood for Death; so he saved his own political career and trashed the life of Karla Faye. And yes, upheld The Law.

 The Replacement

As regular readers may recall, I have several times called in this column for the present sick excuse for a justice system to be replaced wholesale by one operating in an unfettered market, in whatever manner we its customers demand - and which will substitute restitution for the old, authoritarian idea of retribution, or punishment, which is all government ever offers.

Exactly how it would evolve I cannot of course predict - except that, being sensitive to that demand like every other service provided in the free market, it will accurately represent that demand and rapidly correct any anomalies that arise. I would expect the jury option to be chosen regularly, for example; and not the bullied, deliberately biased juries that government provides today, but properly impartial ones, drawn at random and with no enquiry of jurors except that they can understand English and are not related to the protagonists.

Even CNN, on February 3rd, remarked that had the question of Tucker's future been submitted that day to even a Texas jury, it would have saved her in a heartbeat. That's because juries condemn not by majority vote, but by 12-0.

The subject of "justice without the State" is far bigger than can be addressed properly here, so let me just refer the open-minded reader to Benson's "The Enterprise of Law", ISBN 09364 88301. It would work, and work well; like every other business works, once government gets itself right out of the way.

 The Four Reverends

Karla Tucker had become a Christian while in prison, so the execution quite disconbobulated those many Christians who have been pressing lo! these many decades for the death penalty. Some, like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, had the decency publicy to request an exception for Tucker; though neither was able to admit even partial blame or to revise their general opinions. A revealing comment from Falwell was that while he was taking this stand (which fell short of a direct appeal to his "friend", George Bush) many of his fellow Christians opposed him! We must conclude that for them, "brotherly love" did not extend to lifting a finger to rescue a sister from a sudden and pointless death.

I noticed comment from two other Reverends; Jesse Jackson and Billy Graham. The former, to my surprise, was the only one of the four to show a glimmer of intelligent thought: "The State", said Jackson, "is our creature, not the other way about." In other words, there is no reason to violate common sense and decency just because "It's The Law" (y-u-c-k!); we created government and therefore its laws, and so we can un-create it, and/or them. Good for Jesse; normally he's nothing but a socialist and racist, but I now have some respect for the guy Limbaugh routinely scorns as "The REVerend Jackson."

Lastly came Billy Graham, now venerable as well as reverend, and when Larry King asked him about the death penalty, he said yes, he did believe "the State has a right to execute killers who show no remorse." (Where from??!) Well, as Jackson went up in my esteem, that remark took Graham down.

Presumably as a preacher he would call for repentance, to save sinners from an alleged Hell; yet here he was, ready to hasten the death of the unrepentant (so prematurely sealing their eternal damnation) but to postpone it for the remorseful, who, being saved, need no delay. Bass ackwards, right?

Alas, it's typical. All his professional life, since his famous gaffe with President Truman in 1950, Billy Graham has stood on his head to avoid offending top Pols. He goes along not only with their obvious mendacity (even now, he would not allow that Clinton might be an habitual liar!) but - more important as I see it - he abstains from criticizing even the most outrageous breaches of their solemn oaths of office in the policies they carry out; as for example Nixon's 1971 control of prices and wages, or Johnson's escalation in Vietnam.

This is an Achilles' heel of some religious people; they trade their principles for a share of power or influence. It's a lousy bargain.

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