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  • smw907

    The idea of justice is subjective. It is often coerced to fit the narrow definitions we, a group or others may feel is right. And often irresponsibly used to further a cause, idea or movement. Justice is not perfect and will never be. However, we live in a country that has the most civilized justice system in the world. Is it perfect, no. Does it provide an equitable opportunity for both sides to prove their case - ABSOLUTELY. I'm disappointed by the vast ignorance in our "open-minded", free thinking community, that is so blinded by their own personal beliefs, and cringe to think of the uncivilized form of justice that would exist if we were to indulge in this naive way of thinking.

    • Phillipe Copeland

      Thanks for taking the time to respond. I guess my point is whether or not justice is simply providing an equitable opportunity for two sides to prove their case. Is that really the best we can do? Why do you believe that the outcome of such a process represents justice? What exactly makes that any more "civilized" than other approaches? Who said anything about "perfection". It's a question of considering alternatives that might be conducive to outcomes beyond "proving" a case as you put it. Why is that naive?

      • smw907

        Let me first clarify. I appreciate your perspective very much. I also strongly support more healthy, positive approaches to dealing (and healing) with violence and the tragic unraveling that always follows. I have dedicated much of my life to this pursuit. And, I've been inspired by the idea of Ubuntu for many years. To answer your questions: I do believe in finding better outcomes to preventing violence and helping us embrace our community;value life and inspire others to value life as well. So, on those points I agree and applaud. I don't believe the outcomes of our Justice System always represent "justice" to everyone. In this particular case, based on our justice system, justice was served. It's the idea of intertwining the word "justice" into your conversation of healing, restoring (or preventing) I don't support. Regarding the rest of my comments. I should clarify.They have more to do with the public debate and less to do with your op-ed. I'm dismayed by the angry dialogue our community (on both sides) has had in the name of justice (or finding justice). And the call to change our justice system because some were not happy with the verdict, not because the due process failed. But yes, let's please continue the conversation on prevention, respect and more positive ways to restore community.

        • Phillipe Copeland

          Thank you this was very helpful. Could you say more about your objection to intertwining the word justice into discussions of healing, restoring, and so on. Those who support restorative justice would appear to make such a intertwining. What is is about that you are objecting to? Also, I agree with you that from a retributive justice standpoint, justice was served. My point is that that approach to justice can do some things that have value but not everything.

          • smw907

            Phillipe - I think the idea of "justice" brings along with it the idea that a universal right or wrong will be reached. Our laws and court system are the closest thing we have to achieving that. However, the idea of real restorative healing (or accountability, outcomes), and when it would be obtained, would be up to the parties involved. I do wonder how a model like that could be managed but realize it could be a powerful way to compliment our justice system. Lastly, I had a strong reaction to this because I believe the lines of justice (defined by our laws/courts) and a sort of personal justice have been blurred with this case. Thank you for your thoughtful feedback!

            • Phillipe Copeland

              thank you. i consider myself a student of these issues and no expert. I appreciate your generosity in sharing your thoughts. "Compliment" is a good word and is what I'm encouraging people to consider. There are things that retributive justice approaches can do and things they can't do. I look forward to learning more about what possibilities might come with restorative justice as a compliment to retributive justice. Also as you suggest, definitions of justice vary considerably across cultures, religions, and ideologies. One person's justice is another's injustice.

      • John Wynn

        Perhaps I am naive as well, but I find the civility inherent in restorative justice far more beneficial to society as a whole than punishment alone.

        • Phillipe Copeland

          Thanks John, I would agree. The key word is "alone". Right now we are using a primarily punishment alone approach to crime which has demonstrated that it has limitations. Why not try something different? People are already doing it and learning a great deal.