Friday, 6 July 2012

When Justice Fails

Cynicism and Disquiet

The law courts, where justice is dispensed, are holy places.  On display there are the culture's deepest beliefs about truth, righteousness, sin, evil, guilt, and judgment.  The law courts are our institutional, established religion writ large. 

It is understandable, then, that popular culture, the media, the Commentariat and the chattering classes are fascinated with courts and trials.  Particularly when murder is on the docket.  The national fixation with the recent Scott Guy murder trial is a case in point.  The accused was found not guilty by a jury of his peers.  Most leave profoundly disquieted.  Why?

The established religion of our day has been openly displayed as a crock.  The gods have been shamed.  Things are not what they ought to be.  Secular humanism has no doctrine of eternal judgement.  It denies moral absolutes.  Crime is that which is conventionally disapproved.  Today's crimes might be a cause for celebrity adulation tomorrow. 

So, whatever acts are currently held to be crimes, when someone is accused, if they are subsequently found not guilty, a general uneasiness descends upon the coffee houses and the sports bars and the work-place cafeterias.  Did the police fail?  Are they a bunch of turkeys?  How inept is crown law?  The jury system is wrong.  Is "beyond reasonable doubt" is too high a standard of proof.  The system has failed.  Our gods have not delivered. 

There is in the heart of man a deeply held belief: the guilty should be punished.  Secular humanism has only one go at this: our law courts.  When juries return a "not guilty" verdict the unspoken yet certain conclusion is that someone has got away with murder.  The system is weak.  It is a failure.  The most holy place, the last public temple of secular humanism has been found to be pathetically ineffectual and derisory.  There is a trembling throughout the Force. 

Here is a reaction to the Scott Guy verdict which classically illustrates our point:
All in all, the only winners here are Greg King and the Just Us system.  I write it that way because of my enduring belief there is no such thing as justice, just us.
The jury gave the right verdict.  The Police and the Guy family will be utterly demoralised and shattered.  Macdonald's life is still ruined.  He just doesn't spend 15+ years in jail.
Tomorrow is still winter.  The Black Caps are still useless at Cricket.  Summer will eventually arrive, and the Black Caps may improve.  But Scott Guy's wife and children will never see their husband and dad again.  No one but them can comprehend how impossibly hard that must be.
Just Us.  That's the heart of secular materialist humanism.  It's the essence of the established religion of our age.  The law courts are the final chance to give meaning to anything at all.  But it amounts to nothing more than a mocking chimera.  Since there is "just us", crime and morality, truth and justice are constructs with no meaning at all.  There is just offensive behaviour, prejudices, preferences, opinions, and bullying masquerading as morality, truth, and justice.  

When the mask gets stripped off and the chattering crowd conclude that their gods are puny a deep disquiet surfaces.   Cynicism is its hand maiden. 

Only the Christian is able to face such judicial lacunae with not just calmness, but strong approval.  In this world there is no ultimate justice.  It does not exist.  Our law courts and judicial benches are but a pale shadow of the Final Judgment of the King of all kings.  Our courts may rightly fail to find guilt.  Their legitimacy is not thereby challenged.  In fact, given that the burden of proof required by God Himself is very high more often than not the guilty will go unpunished.  But absolute and infinite justice awaits. 

It is given unto man once to die, but after this the Judgement.  All things on that day will lie bare and exposed before the eyes of Him with Whom we have to deal.  Everything done in secret, in the dark will be blindingly exposed.  Including everything that happened at 4.45am at the entrance way to a Feilding farm one fateful morning two years ago.   Every thought, motive, and intention.  Every act or failure to act.  Thus, we can accept with patience and equanimity the present failure to convict the guilty. 

Justice in this world is always finite.  It is limited to what we know and can prove beyond reasonable doubt.  But every time the guilty (whoever it may be) goes free the eternal realities of God and His infinite justice become more precious.  They intrude more powerfully than ever.  They help us fix our eyes upon the world to come.  And they goad us once again to seek the mercies of God found in Christ Jesus, our atoning sacrifice.  The very opposite of the cynicism and disquiet of the "just us" established religion of our day. 

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