“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. – Matthew 18: 15-17
Here Christ gives us a process to justice. An orderly method to reveal truth. He does not say to shun the accused upon accusation, but only after completing an orderly process. A process that is fair to all, not playing favorites, and not drawn out. Above all it holds to evidence. As we can see, the burden of proof is on the accuser and not the accused. As is true of our own justice system. The accuser is he who approaches the accused, brings forth witnesses, and seeks the Church-which is like the courts; the authority-to render judgment. Yet in the end, and only the end of the process is the accuser left to shun the accused. Thereby, labeling him as the most unsavory of that time and most likely will be shunned by many.
For those who are of my age may remember a TV series titled “Dragnet.” The series centered around two Los Angeles, Ca. detectives. One particular case they investigated on Christmas day. A parish priest had reported that the figurine of the baby Jesus was missing from the Nativity display. The parishioners were deeply saddened for it was a poor community and they had dug deep to finance the display which represented their common sacrifice, which as on Good Friday would be made manifest in the adult Jesus. The detectives, Friday and Gannon, took this investigation as seriously as they would any other. They combed the neighborhood, going door to door, questioning residents and business owners alike. Their questioning process was always the same; to the point. When a person being questioned for information on new leads began to veer off by offering a spinning opinion Detective Friday would abruptly interrupt with the famous line: “The facts lady, just the facts.” The case ends successfully by the thief turning himself in…or somewhat so. The priest called the detectives back to the church, where the baby Jesus had gone missing, after days of investigation. When they arrived, there in the manger was the missing baby Jesus. Their perturbed dispositions changed when the priest brought out the thief. It was a little boy who apologized to the detectives. Behind him he pulled a little red wagon. When asked why he did this, the little boy answered: “I promised the baby Jesus that if I got a red wagon for Christmas I would give him a ride.” I’m sorry, he said, I was only keeping my promise. The detectives both smiled and said there would be no arrest today. Because there was no abduction, just a promise kept. That is why we presume innocence before guilt. We have come to find that too many are imprisoned or ostracized unnecessarily on knee-jerk reaction. Or as Friday and Gannon would say of many of their questionable witnesses: “Too quick to judge.”
While playing golf, a friend of mine was lining up an impossible putt, I thought, based upon a pin placement. So I offered: “If you make that putt I will buy you dinner.” And we were about to dine at an expensive restaurant. As he let the putt go I was sure I could leave my wallet at home. Then, as is usually the case with a sure thing, the ball made its target. The impossible happened. There justice had taken place on the golf course. I, in my bet, in reality, accused my friend of failure before the facts were in. Rather than me fulfilling my burden of proof, my failure to collect on the bet proved his innocence of a non-missed putt. Case closed. I learned my lesson; no sure thing is a sure thing. This is what is missing from our justice system to insure its honesty; “the loser buys.” No better deterrent is there to frivolous law suits or vague accusations than the thought that if one loses the case one would then be responsible for paying both sides of the legal fees. Then only those with factual veracity would bring suit. My friend, however, showed the better part of justice. For only after judgment is rendered can mercy be shown. And his mercy to me was pardon from the cost of the two dinners.
In every courtroom stands Lady Justice who is blindfolded. In her hand is held the scales of justice symbolizing the idea of the fair distribution of law, with no influence of bias, privilege or corruption. She sees not gender, race, ethnicity, politics nor religious preference. Here is her fairness, in that her judgment will be based only on the facts brought before her. The blindfold over her eyes allows perfect vision in judgment not distorted by bias toward nor against any. Thereby, fulfilling the promise for a fair and speedy legal process. However, today, this is not so in most cases. For the double standard has been allowed to permeate our justice system through the poison of politics. Lust for power perpetuated by a self-oriented society has sown discord among it citizens and nurtured corruption for those whose creed is any means necessary to achieve the end desired. G.K. Chesterton tells us: “When man no longer cares for God he no longer cares for those who are made in His image.” Free then is man or woman to submit a neighbor to any undeserved and unfounded slander.
The blindfold has been removed from Lady Justice tipping the scales in one direction over the other. Fairness has irreparably been damaged. Facts are of little matter when public opinion is earmarked to determine guilt or innocence. The fear created from the struggle for control of one ideology over another now is the force that governs where a stand is taken. Not on what is right but rather what wins. This is not the justice system of democracy. It is the injustice of tyranny. Facts no longer determine the outcome of a trial but rather the mightier will prevail. In this environment the constitution that protects the rights of all citizens is under attack. And unless righteous men and women stand firm against it, democracy will be thrust off the cliff of indifference by its contrary; Marxism. Nikita Khrushchev will have made good on his promise: “We will bury you.” And, sadly, not by another’s hand, but by our own. This madness we see about us whenever there is a change in governance is due to a turning away from a process that has served this country well for over two centuries. Those who seek to alter this process for their own selfish agenda show no prudent forethought. For the seed that is being sown can harvest only chaos. Injustice we see enacted upon one, we must understand, is injustice enacted upon us all. Democracy is a danger unto itself. For in being free, we are free to act against that which protects that freedom. The United States is unique in that it lives by a creed. A creed – of, by and for the people – that is secure in the Constitution. Should that static constitution become irreparably eroded by the double standard then no one’s freedom can ever again be guaranteed.
As the Pope is fallible, as a man, in all things except the doctrine of the church, so, too, are those who are elected to govern and serve on the courts fallible except in applying our Constitution. In the hands of Machiavellian political activists, who see that Constitution as a living document made for manipulation, freedom is forever lost. For freedom reigns only in the hands of the people. When the blindfold is lifted from Lady Justice’s eyes she become blind to the truth. And the truth is what truly makes us free.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. – James 3:16