By listening to some white folks from South Carolina and many other corners of the country, the confederate flag represents heritage, my heritage, white heritage. So let me disavow this heritage as one of hate that shall not enjoy public support, state support in anyway. This flag is a symbol of white supremacy, racism and was used as a battle flag to fight for the right to own black slaves. This is heritage alright, because we own our history, but we shall not celebrate it as an innocuous state rights issue, or to claim that upholding the flag is honoring confederate veterans who died for a cause now acknowledged to be immoral, who fought not for a United States of America and its Constitution, but a Confederate States of America, a secessionist America that went to war over the righteous believe that black people are worth less (three-fifth, to be precise) than white people.
The U.S. justice system is ready for a reform. Too many faults, too many wrongs that are committed by an old, rigid, tough on crime judiciary. How can a system that hands down 450 year to life in prison be taken seriously? What is the value of such a life sentence, if the life span of any human caps at 120 some years? There is too much reliance on bail, on fees, on eyewitness and confessions of guilt without physical evidence. No more outsourcing of prisons to private share holder controlled businesses. It is a system that provokes corruption, as more prisoners and longer sentences mean more money for private corporation. Policing, judging, law enforcement must be under public control and the public purse. No more plea bargaining, just straight convictions, no more death penalty verdicts based solely on eye witness accounts. Modern behavioral and cognitive neuroscience knows better than this.
I will comment more often on the justice system to elaborate on its shortcomings… namely how much it fails to protect the most vulnerable members of our society; the poor, the mentally ill, undocumented immigrants in detention centers, blacks on the streets, in the court rooms and jails, and lastely enemy combatants held without charge and outside any constitutional norms by the military at Guantanamo.
We love to kill.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston bomber got the death penalty for his crime. So many decent people I know are in favor of his death, as they profess to ordain killing a person only for good and valid reasons, always justifying the killing by deeming the person killed to have lost the right to live.
I say however, let’s abolish the death penalty, not just because it has no redeeming value, is too often applied to the innocent, does not make us safer, does not deter future crime, does not give us closure, but because it is the ultimate premeditated, collective act of murder ever conceived by society.
And just to be sure, the American alternative, super-max prisons with 23 hour solitary confinement is no human alternative. Isolation is torture, and torture, too, is wrong. Life in prison is harsh enough, it does not have to amount to psychological torture.
To remind everyone of the difficult task at hand; the US Constitution bans cruel and unusual punishment.
Freedom is but one form of dignity. Freedom is also not complete if people lack fairness and respect. If by mere association to an ethnic group you fear police more (black, Hispanic) or less (white, Asian), the premise that all are equal under the law is not realized.
Various incidences regarding police brutality, the freeing of innocently convicted and abuse of prisoners call us to rethink our approach to deliver justice, protect the innocent and retain our humanity. Too many cases of abuse show our entrenched way of behavior, that we are human, all to human. Delivering justice is hard, requires discipline, transparency and humility.