|In recent weeks, the headlines have been filled with the news of several high-profile legal cases (here and here), sparking much commentary on the judicial system and the nature of justice. After the vindication of Kyle Rittenhouse, the trial for the killers of Ahmaud Arbery and the case against Andrew Coffee also concluded, both defendants claiming self-defence. Though the details varied considerably, it seems both juries came to fair conclusions. There is no doubt that courts get things wrong but when due process is unhindered by threats or coercion, there can be good outcomes.|
Watching the proceedings of the Rittenhouse case was an encouraging example of the system “working”, yet it is easy to see that meting out justice is not an exact science. Those who seek to reform the system can make things worse. A backlog of cases, lack of resources and prosecutors out for their own glory can push the accused into plea bargains, admitting to crimes they may not have committed, rather than face the uncertainty and stress of the trial they are entitled to. As was true in bygone eras, those who can afford a good defence, are more likely to do well. The justice system is fallible because it is filled with humans who are fallible.
Reading reporting about these various trials shows that we, as a society, don’t agree on what “justice” is. To some, no matter what the court decided, Kyle Rittenhouse is a “symbol” of “white supremacy”. A chorus of voices still say he’s guilty of oppression. Somehow. Yet when a disturbed man with a criminal record and history of racist vitriol drives through a crowded Christmas parade, the initial reports from the biggest newspapers say that the “event” was “caused by an SUV.” The truth cannot get in the way of the story. While it is prudent to reserve judgement when facts are light on the ground, there is a palpable disdain for anyone who asks questions, anyone who concludes differently, anyone who recognizes that there are wicked people who do evil things.
This brought to mind what the prophet Isaiah wrote in his day:
Justice is turned back,And righteousness stands afar off;
For truth is fallen in the street,And equity cannot enter.
We don’t pretend to know the motivations of everyone in positions of power, but Isaiah describes the plight of a people who will not accept what God says about them, who substitute his truth for lies. They are bound to “trust in empty words and speak lies” to try to explain why the world is how it is. Mad Christians know that God’s hand is not shortened, nor is he deaf to the injustice done by men. As Isaiah goes on to say, God saw there was no justice and no intercessor, so he sent Jesus – “His own arm brought salvation for Him.” We should pray for justice to be done in our land and do what we can to keep our lawmakers impartial. But the knowledge that the Righteous Judge, of the