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Thread: Revenge and Justice

  1. #1 Revenge and Justice 
    Forum Professor arKane's Avatar
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    Revenge and Justice

    Are these two words ever the same thing?

    Case # 1 You have a daughter that's been raped, killed and dumped like a piece of trash to be thrown out after being used. (No doubt about guilt here)

    If you catch up with this guy and kill him, that's revenge. If the law catches up with him and he's executed, that's justice. Both the same good outcome. Yet if you kill him then the law will charge you with murder and you can expect many years behind bars.

    When you consider what your emotional state was, is it fair to put you away for murder?

    Case # 2 You have a daughter that's been raped, killed and dumped like a piece of trash to be thrown out after being used. (You know who is guilty, but the law can't prove it in a court of law) and the perpetrator is found innocent and set free.

    Now it's clear justice won't be done here by the law and if you act it's revenge against a legally innocent man, for which you could be given the death penalty.

    All you can do now is hope your lawyer is good at picking jurors that will be able to put themselves in your place and know that justice was done.


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  3. #2 Re: Revenge and Justice 
    Forum Masters Degree Twit of wit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    You know who is guilty
    How?


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  4. #3 Re: Revenge and Justice 
    Forum Professor arKane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twit of wit
    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    You know who is guilty
    How?
    It's only an assumption made for the sake of my question, and I do realize the problem created when people take the law into their own hands. I've seen enough law and order programs to damn near cover every situation that might happen. But I also have a good idea of how I would feel if I was the father in both cases.

    If the law isn't good enough to catch and punish the guilty, then temporary insanity until the job is done sounds like a forgone conclusion in a society that demands someone must pay for the crime and just like the law sometimes convicts the innocent, so the father might get it wrong too.

    I personally think better lie detection is needed. At least good enough to be admitted as evidence in court.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    People's ideas of revenge differ, so what Person X thinks is fair might seem over the top to Person Y but far from enough for Person Z, and never-ending feuds would probably result. On the other hand, the government's prosecution of criminal wrongs provides a consistent, democratic, unemotional and unbiased process (supposedly) regardless of the wealth, fame and position of the defendant and the victim. Technically speaking, "justice" is an ideal to which the practice of "law" strives toward, but realistically, will never attain. Nevertheless law must constantly strive towards justice.

    Historically, between the personal pursuit of "revenge" and the government's prosecution of "[criminal] justice", there existed the "[civil] torts", as described by Sir Henry James Sumner Maine in his seminal book "Ancient Law". Persons would seek redress of grievances for crimes against the person in court in the same way that a person today would seek to correct the wrong of defamation, breach of contract, etc.

    I have spoken of primitive jurisprudence as giving to _criminal_ law a priority unknown in a later age. The expression has been used for convenience' sake, but in fact the inspection of ancient codes shows that the law which they exhibit in unusual quantities is not true criminal law. All civilised systems agree in drawing a distinction between offences against the State or Community and offences against the Individual, and the two classes of injuries, thus kept apart, I may here, without pretending that the terms have always been employed consistently in jurisprudence, call Crimes and Wrongs, _crimina_ and _delicta_. Now the penal law of ancient communities is not the law of Crimes; it is the law of Wrongs, or, to use the English technical word, of Torts. The person injured proceeds against the wrong-doer by an ordinary civil action, and recovers compensation in the shape of money-damages if he succeeds. If the Commentaries of Gaius be opened at the place where the writer treats of the penal jurisprudence founded on the Twelve Tables, it will be seen that at the head of the civil wrongs recognised by the Roman law stood _Furtum_ or _Theft_. Offences which we are accustomed to regard exclusively as _crimes_ are exclusively treated as _torts_, and not theft only, but assault and violent robbery, are associated by the jurisconsult with trespass, libel and slander. All alike gave rise to an Obligation or _vinculum juris_, and were all requited by a payment of money. This peculiarity, however, is most strongly brought out in the consolidated Laws of the Germanic tribes. Without an exception, they describe an immense system of money compensations for homicide, and with few exceptions, as large a scheme of compensations for minor injuries. "Under Anglo-Saxon law," writes Mr. Kemble (_Anglo-Saxons_, i. 177), "a sum was placed on the life of every free man, according to his rank, and a corresponding sum on every wound that could be inflicted on his person, for nearly every injury that could be done to his civil rights, honour or peace; the sum being aggravated according to adventitious circumstances." These compositions are evidently regarded as a valuable source of income; highly complex rules regulate the title to them and the responsibility for them; and, as I have already had occasion to state, they often follow a very peculiar line of devolution, if they have not been acquitted at the decease of the person to whom they belong. If therefore the criterion of a _delict_, _wrong_, or _tort_ be that the person who suffers it, and not the State, is conceived to be wronged, it may be asserted that in the infancy of jurisprudence the citizen depends for protection against violence or fraud not on the Law of Crime but on the Law of Tort.

    Torts then are copiously enlarged upon in primitive jurisprudence. It must be added that Sins are known to it also. Of the Teutonic codes it is almost unnecessary to make this assertion, because those codes, in the form in which we have received them, were compiled or recast by Christian legislators. But it is also true that non-Christian bodies of archaic law entail penal consequences on certain classes of acts and on certain classes of omissions, as being violations of divine prescriptions and commands. The law administered at Athens by the Senate of Areopagus was probably a special religious code, and at Rome, apparently from a very early period, the Pontifical jurisprudence punished adultery, sacrilege and perhaps murder. There were therefore in the Athenian and in the Roman States laws punishing _sins_. There were also laws punishing _torts_. The conception of offence against God produced the first class of ordinances; the conception of offence against one's neighbour produced the second; but the idea of offence against the State or aggregate community did not at first produce a true criminal jurisprudence.

    Yet it is not to be supposed that a conception so simple and elementary as that of wrong done to the State was wanting in any primitive society. It seems rather that the very distinctness with which this conception is realised is the true cause which at first prevents the growth of a criminal law. At all events, when the Roman community conceived itself to be injured, the analogy of a personal wrong received was carried out to its consequences with absolute literalness, and the State avenged itself by a single act on the individual wrong-doer. The result was that, in the infancy of the commonwealth, every offence vitally touching its security or its interests was punished by a separate enactment of the legislature. And this is the earliest conception of a _crimen_ or Crime--an act involving such high issues that the State, instead of leaving its cognisance to the civil tribunal or the religious court, directed a special law or _privilegium_ against the perpetrator. Every indictment therefore took the form of a bill of pains and penalties, and the trial of a _criminal_ was a proceeding wholly extraordinary, wholly irregular, wholly independent of settled rules and fixed conditions. Consequently, both for the reason that the tribunal dispensing justice was the sovereign state itself and also for the reason that no classification of the acts prescribed or forbidden was possible, there was not at this epoch any _Law_ of crimes, any criminal jurisprudence. The procedure was identical with the forms of passing an ordinary statute; it was set in motion by the same persons and conducted with precisely the same solemnities. And it is to be observed that, when a regular criminal law with an apparatus of Courts and officers for its administration had afterwards come into being, the old procedure, as might be supposed from its conformity with theory, still in strictness remained practicable; and, much as resort to such an expedient was discredited, the people of Rome always retained the power of punishing by a special law offences against its majesty. The classical scholar does not require to be reminded that in exactly the same manner the Athenian Bill of Pains and Penalties, or [Greek: eisangelia], survived the establishment of regular tribunals. It is known too that when the freemen of the Teutonic races assembled for legislation, they also claimed authority to punish offences of peculiar blackness or perpetrated by criminals of exalted station. Of this nature was the criminal jurisdiction of the Anglo-Saxon Witenagemot.
    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
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  6. #5  
    Forum Professor arKane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrmonroe
    People's ideas of revenge differ, so what Person X thinks is fair might seem over the top to Person Y but far from enough for Person Z, and never-ending feuds would probably result. On the other hand, the government's prosecution of criminal wrongs provides a consistent, democratic, unemotional and unbiased process (supposedly) regardless of the wealth, fame and position of the defendant and the victim. Technically speaking, "justice" is an ideal to which the practice of "law" strives toward, but realistically, will never attain. Nevertheless law must constantly strive towards justice.
    True, and even your personal insane desire for revenge might change over time as your pain and suffering started to decrease. However, leaving any individual or group of family members and friends without closure or resolution is never a good thing, and it does leave the door open to people taking the law into their own hands, which I will agree is not a good thing.

    Thanks for the quick tutorial on ancient law and justice. Glad I didn't live back then, and it's good to know that law is evolving into a better tool against crime as it ages. But it does have a long way to go yet as it needs to catch and punish every criminal and never punish an innocent person.
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