Dave blogged recently about the Michael Vick case and his hope that justice will be served. I concur with that view. I want Vick to be treated justly, which means he should not receive either of the two extremes of Celebrity Justice: either being punished unduly harshly because of who he is and how much money he has, or paying a negligible penalty because of who he is and how much money he has.
Another disturbing legal situation that made headlines for months was the Duke University lacrosse team rape case, which turned out to be a case of wrongful accusation and vindictive prosecution. If you want to read a bit about it, follow this link to a review of a book called Until Proven Innocent.
The Duke story highlights how volatile race issues continue to be in the USA. I'm not denying that we've made tremendous progress in race relations during my lifetime. I grew up in the "liberal" northeast and I can assure you that racism there, notwithstanding the fact that it was expressed more subtly than Jim Crow, was just as deep and vicious as its southern counterpart. We've certainly come a long way since then, but the "reverse racism" of the Duke case demonstrates that we still have a long road to travel. This wretched episode shows all too clearly that all stereotypes and simplistic assumptions about race, class, gender, privilege and victimization inevitably, and tragically, undermine justice.
The judicial system is a particularly critical arena in which lives, livelihoods, reputations and careers are molded and broken every day. What happens there matters very much. Justice is not merely an ideal or an ethical code; it is the foundation of civilized social, economic and political interaction. Society's only option is to get it right every time.