A young person — I’m not going to provide any more identifying information than that individual did — left a comment to my article about “Defending Innocent People.” The comment is interesting on many different levels.

One of the things that really stood out, though, was this statement:

I do agree that a lot of people convicted are in fact guilty, and even if not for that particular crime than [sic] they probably did something before that and somehow got away with it.

Now, this individual did not state that this justifies punishment, but most people making this kind of statement do mean to say that.  They usually actually follow up by explicitly saying something to indicate they’re unconcerned with the conviction of the “innocent” individual because they aren’t really so innocent after all, are they?

But why does this way of thinking not make us one of the bad guys when we shrug our shoulders over a wrongful conviction, or give less consideration to the concept of reasonable doubt, and our part in seeing the justice wins in court?  Perhaps this is why some guy allegedly once said,

If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.  (John 8:7, New International Version.)

Sure doesn’t sound like, “Well, she may not have done what she’s accused of, but you fine people should go ahead and punish her anyway because she probably has done something wrong, sometime.”  In fact, on the contrary: he all but says “You fine people should not punish her, because you have probably done something wrong, sometime.”

As Matthew’s Commentary on the above biblical passage states,

Those are self-condemned who judge others, and yet do the same thing. All who are any way called to blame the faults of others, are especially concerned to look to themselves, and keep themselves pure. In this matter Christ attended to the great work about which he came into the world, that was, to bring sinners to repentance; not to destroy, but to save. He aimed to bring, not only the accused to repentance, by showing her his mercy, but the prosecutors also, by showing them their sins; they thought to insnare him, he sought to convince and convert them. He declined to meddle with the magistrate’s office. Many crimes merit far more severe punishment than they meet with; but we should not leave our own work, to take that upon ourselves to which we are not called.

When we are called into the courtroom — when we get our summons to jury duty — we are not asked to determine whether someone deserves to be punished because “they might not have done this, but they probably did something, sometime.”  We should not take that upon ourselves to which we are not called.  And what we are called for is to determine whether the individual charged with a particular crime, at a particular time, actually committed that crime, at that time.  That is our work.

You might believe in some kind of “universalized” justice.  Call it “karma” or whatever else you like.  But consider this: if you convict someone for a crime they did not commit, are you not doing something wrong?  So if you are untroubled by your wrongdoing, do you not deserve, also, to be punished?

No matter that you think it’s okay not to carefully consider the evidence and whether or not it “beyond a reasonable doubt” supports a conviction, two wrongs really do not make a right.  It just adds to the number of wrongs in the universe.

4 comments

  1. Todd’s article was originally submitted without showing his name. Instead, he listed the name of a category of articles from a website and provided a link to an article he had written.

    Todd’s comment caught my attention because if you read the comment of the “young person” to whom he referred, there’s no way to arrive at the conclusion that he “just sounds like a brainwashed Christian camp graduate.” Furthermore, Todd’s gratuitous insults appear to be nothing more than an attempt to make it look as if he has something to say when he actually does not.

    This made me suspect the comment was nothing but a more sophisticated version of “spam.” By making it appear as if he had something to say when he actually did not, Todd got past the normal spam filters.

    On the off chance that Todd is not really intending to be a spammer, but is just himself guilty of the very things of which he accuses the “young person,” I decided to remove the links Todd included and (having learned it by following the links), I simply added his first name in place of the “article category” name he had listed.

    That way, if Todd actually intended his article here to contribute to a conversation, others will have it (or have at it) and it may have that effect.

    I’m fairly tolerant of what’s said in comments posted to this blog. I’ve never actually censored people for taking issue with what I say, or with what anyone else says, even when they make emotional and uncivilized comments. Spam, on the other hand, is not tolerated on my blog.

    Links to other websites are left intact when those links are a part of a regular (i.e., non-spam) comment. When it looks like people are just posting things here to try to provide another path to their own website, rather than contribute to conversations here, those posts are usually deleted.

    Because Todd’s note looks like it’s a useless and ignorant concatenation of words, and the links provided neither seem to be connected to what he said, nor contribute anything to the conversation here, they have been removed. Because his comment resembled some other non-spam comments in that it was only a useless and ignorant concatenation of words, the comment itself was allowed to remain.

  2. Todd’s article was originally submitted without showing his name. Instead, he listed the name of a category of articles from a website and provided a link to an article he had written.

    Todd’s comment caught my attention because if you read the comment of the “young person” to whom he referred, there’s no way to arrive at the conclusion that he “just sounds like a brainwashed Christian camp graduate.” Furthermore, Todd’s gratuitous insults appear to be nothing more than an attempt to make it look as if he has something to say when he actually does not.

    This made me suspect the comment was nothing but a more sophisticated version of “spam.” By making it appear as if he had something to say when he actually did not, Todd got past the normal spam filters.

    On the off chance that Todd is not really intending to be a spammer, but is just himself guilty of the very things of which he accuses the “young person,” I decided to remove the links Todd included and (having learned it by following the links), I simply added his first name in place of the “article category” name he had listed.

    That way, if Todd actually intended his article here to contribute to a conversation, others will have it (or have at it) and it may have that effect.

    I’m fairly tolerant of what’s said in comments posted to this blog. I’ve never actually censored people for taking issue with what I say, or with what anyone else says, even when they make emotional and uncivilized comments. Spam, on the other hand, is not tolerated on my blog.

    Links to other websites are left intact when those links are a part of a regular (i.e., non-spam) comment. When it looks like people are just posting things here to try to provide another path to their own website, rather than contribute to conversations here, those posts are usually deleted.

    Because Todd’s note looks like it’s a useless and ignorant concatenation of words, and the links provided neither seem to be connected to what he said, nor contribute anything to the conversation here, they have been removed. Because his comment resembled some other non-spam comments in that it was only a useless and ignorant concatenation of words, the comment itself was allowed to remain.

  3. This young person just sounds like a brainwashed Christian camp graduate. His arguments are as pointed as a deflated basketball, and his ignorance shines though. I’ve found it’s almost pointless to have logical discussions with religious fanatics though. You can never prove them wrong, because their belief system is so warped, logic can’t penetrate it.

  4. This young person just sounds like a brainwashed Christian camp graduate. His arguments are as pointed as a deflated basketball, and his ignorance shines though. I’ve found it’s almost pointless to have logical discussions with religious fanatics though. You can never prove them wrong, because their belief system is so warped, logic can’t penetrate it.

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