On April 16, 2019, Pravda.Ru published my article Does the World Need Evil? This article was motivated by the philosophical question, if people indirectly, but intentionally, cause injury or death to another by the decisions or choices they make, but do so under the protection of humanly created "law," will they eventually have to answer for their actions (or inactions)?
What makes this question impossible to answer is it relies upon whether heaven and hell actually exist, or if they are simply fairy tales that the rich and powerful use to control their flocks.
Naturally, if these unseen worlds do not exist, then my question becomes moot: If people are insulated by the corrupt machinations of humanly created law and there is no afterlife, then clearly there will be no punishment, save perhaps an occasional guilty conscience.
Although I have pondered this question at various points in my life, I think what really made me reflect upon it more deeply was an experience I had while attending law school. One of my professors also worked as a prosecutor. At the beginning of one class, she announced that she might be late the following week because a case she was trying was going to the jury, and she would have to await the verdict. She then remarked, "I have a feeling that they will deliberate around two hours and find the defendant not guilty."
When I asked her why, she said that she had serious misgivings about the credibility of the accuser, as testimony was showing that the accusation might have been fabricated after the defendant had refused to give the alleged "victim" money to support her drug habit.
The following week this instructor arrived on time and proclaimed, "I was wrong. They deliberated for an hour and found him guilty. Oh well!"
After class I approached her and asked, "If I abducted an innocent person off the street at gunpoint and held him/her prisoner in my home, would I be considered a criminal?"
She answered, "Of course you would."
I then asked, "Well, didn't you do the same thing to the man you believed to be innocent by arguing he was guilty and ultimately causing him to be sent to prison?"
She then uttered some of the common rationalizations used in the legal system: "I thought the accuser deserved her day in court, and I just argued the case. It was the jury who found him guilty."
I then replied:
"But it was your choice to put him in front of that jury. It was your choice to argue for his guilt, knowing that imprisonment could result. So, isn't it true that the only difference between your actions and my hypothetical is that I used a gun to wrongfully deprive a person of freedom while you wrongfully used the law?"
Of course, under the so-called "ethics" of the American legal system the answer would be clear: Prosecutors and judges, with rare exceptions, are given absolute immunity for their decisions and actions, no matter how egregious these actions are.
Three recent events made me revisit this philosophical question: One was the recent appointment of the alleged "pro-life" judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court; The second is how this court has refused to compel prisons to take adequate precautions against the spread of the Coronavirus, despite the fact that numerous inmates have died from this disease; and the third is how this same court, including Barrett, eagerly rushed to support Trump's last minute spate of executions, despite the fact that some of those executed had legitimate legal arguments about their mental competency and/or the fairness of the trials that convicted them.
For example, in a case from Texas, seven of these Supreme Court "justices" ruled that a prison was not required to take adequate precautions against the Coronavirus to protect elderly inmates, despite the fact that, at the time this case was decided, 40% of these inmates had contracted this virus and 20 had died. And, when it comes to rubber-stamping executions, Justice Sotomayor, in a condemnation of her colleagues' bloodlust, explained, "In [an] historical context, the federal government will have executed more than three times as many people in the last six months than it had in the previous six decades."
Yet, like Barrett, many, if not most, of these so-called Supreme Court "justices" consider themselves to be "pro-life."
I know that many readers will say, "The lives of prisoners are disposable." But this plays precisely into the biggest hypocrisy of these so-called "pro-life" judges and politicians: They are more than willing to pontificate about the "sanctity of life," and dictate that people have to be born, and that people have no right to end their lives through medically assisted suicide (regardless of the pain and suffering they are going through) but, during the years between cradle and grave, these judges and politicians don't give a damn about whether people have a decent income, adequate health care, a quality education, enough food to eat, habitable housing, or even the assurance that their own government will not, for political reasons, murder them for crimes they didn't commit.
Before writing further, I must stress that this article is not taking a stance on abortion itself, nor claiming that all people who consider themselves to be "pro-life" are heartless and hypocritical, only that those who fly this banner because of crass opportunism and self-serving political gain, and whose deeds belie their words, are some of the most hypocritical, mendacious, and loathsome individuals crawling on the face of the earth. It is also not taking a stance on the death penalty, but rather on the callous cruelty of a system whose Supreme Court will rush executions, despite their finality, simply to appease a deranged and sadistic lunatic like Donald Trump. And it should not be forgotten that Trump once demanded that the death penalty be applied to a group of African-American youths collectively known as the "Central Park Five," all of whom were later found to be innocent.
This is why I believe these seven members of the United States Supreme Court, and others in the legal, business, and political world who are insulated from punishment for the injuries and deaths they cause, are, morally at least, nothing more than murderers hiding behind specious and duplicitous "legalities" that promotes, rather than prevents, their crimes. And, just as with my instructor, their weapon is not the knife or the gun, but the law, which, in their hands, has proven to be just as deadly.
Despite all the pontifications from members of the so-called "conservative wing" of the Supreme Court about "religious freedom," if they really believed what they were saying, instead of simply trying to dupe the gullible into thinking they believe it, it would seem they would demonstrate more concern over what might occur, as a result of the decisions they made as "justices," when they meet the Ultimate Judge they claim to venerate.
Does this Judge exist? I do not know. I only know that the world is full of people in power who worship with their words and murder with their deeds. And too many of them hide within the walls of Congress and State Legislatures, or wear black robes in countless courtrooms across the United States.
David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny, as it appears, will be either convoyed to a remote Russian colony or kept in the detention center