Monday, December 05, 2005

Valued Words

I was going to write one of my typical essays but like quite a few others that are parked in "draft" form, it hung up in my mind over a vocabulary issue. Some of our most important words, words we must use constantly in discussing moral issues, strike me as taking on shadow meanings. And those shadows grow ever darker by little degrees. Orwell's Ministry of Truth was right about language, you know.

I may have to write more posts like this that add up to a dictionary of words we must rescue from their veering rightward into a dark ditch. That would enable me to get back to my real writing task without fequent sidetracking to explain away dubious or loaded words.

Today's word is justice.

Do not use the word "justice" if all you mean is "revenge" or even "retribution". Justice only means "fairness". As benign an assumption as I can make about the drift in usage is to suppose that a sloppiness about timing has grown in to a confusion of cause and effect:

You may deal justly in the beginning or you may deal in retribution in the end.

If you deny justice, you will reap revenge. NRA members, or any who cling in fear to the notion that law and order are all that matter and all come down to being ready and able to do more and faster harm than a criminal, should not give themselves the false luxury of assuming my point has something to do with vauge extenuation of violent crimes by victims of social injustice. Justice does not come from the barrel of a gun. Every person, presidents to prowlers, is responsible for the harm he does to others. When one deprives others of health, life or property for any theory of net benefit, it is not much better than doing so out of selfish disregard of others. If the benefit is real, a just means of accomplishing it will be found. "If you do the crime, you do the time" is not a white man's saying. It would be so nice if the most powerful people in the most powerful nation were in possession of their own saying reminding them of that basic notion of responsibility. Owning up to your responsibilities BEFORE YOU ACT could lead you to deal justly.

Do any conservatives hear my anguish that our Department of "Justice" will wind up sorting out only some of the responsibilities many in the Bush league have evaded? For the liberals, nothing but a grim grin can come from the findings of the Department of Justice-after-the-fact.

Whoever wrote Deuteronomy knew
Justice comes only from me and you
"Justice, Justice shall you pursue."

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