Lynch Mobs and Justice

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

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What keeps people from joining lynch mobs and other things? How can justice be blind if it is taken into hands that are not? What concessions can be made to justice?

In my college English class, we watched the Ox Bow Incident, and the question was raised, "Where would you have sat? In the mob, or on the side of justice?" of course, everyone answered, "Oh yes, justice, every time." Every time? Really? So I set about to disprove them. I was called to jury duty on February 12th, had to confirm the date before the 9th, when I called to confirm, I was informed that the case was settled out of court. I learned that the case was a murder case, rare in my town. Because of the rarity of the case, my professor watched for the case, trying to find out what it was and what it was about. It was a coincidence that he learned of the case, the same day I went to tell him of my jury duty. Even more serendipitous was the case. The man who committed the murder was relatively unknown to me, other than the murder he committed.

Three years ago, I made a friend, a tattoo artist, better than any I had met. His art was famous from one end of the state to the other. The Pirate, the Luchador. He was blind in one eye, and wore a bushy mustache. He was the best man I've ever met. In the short time that I was honored to call him my friend, I watched him lose his temper, I watched him cry at the movie The Bucket List, and I heard him offer the most genuine hand of help that I'd ever heard. He was the kind of man that would give you the shirt off his back for simply asking, then insist you take his pants too. Maybe that was because he didn't like clothes in hindsight. There was little that he enjoyed more than having a beer, and hanging out. There are few who can make adults playing board games sound like fun, but he made it. Even his dating advise was perfect. He had his demons, as do we all, when he was young, depressed and going down a dark road, he asked his mother, "Does it ever get better?" She responded, honestly, heartbreakingly, "No." He lost his wife, he took care of his little brother better than anyone could have, and he was always there for anyone that needed it.

Then he was killed, a simple argument turned fatal when a friend of a friend's friend, left, stole a gun from his father, and came back to kill my friend. He stood on his car, shooting over the roof, hitting the small house two or three times. When he came out to see what was going on, my friend was shot, and killed.

An angel was taken from this world to be with his wife, and we all felt cheated, we felt robbed of our friend. There is no word for the anger and hate that I felt in my heart, and that my friends felt in theirs. When the man who killed our friend tried to appeal due to being blackout drunk, saying he had no control of his actions. We wanted to do it, take him into the woods and bury him there. He had it coming, he killed our friend, and yet, something stayed our hands. It wasn't the fear of prison, nor the realization that we were discussing killing a man. It was the spirit of the man whom he killed. I felt words leave my mouth that I didn't give leave to speak, "Dave wouldn't want us to do it." Dave was blind in one eye, starting to go blind in the other, and often told us, "Don't let me get old, and blind."

I hate the man who killed Dave, and I will always hate him.

Then I received a paper in the mail, I had been chosen for jury duty, for a case, February 12th, I learned that it had been settled out of court. Murder reduced to manslaughter. I sat in that classroom, and heard the words, "The guy who killed a tattoo artist in Venice," and I felt something that I hadn't felt in two years. The words broke my heart, and rage seethed through me. My hands shook and I felt sick. The girl ahead of me said, "Wasn't that years ago?" and I was silent. It killed me that it what was a short amount of time for me, my friends, and Dave's family, and to other people it was a long time ago. I knew that I would have had to excuse myself from the case, but something in me wasn't satisfied, in Utah, murder is pretty close to a guaranteed life sentence, manslaughter is 10-20 years.

My response to the question was this: As much as we want to stand on the side of justice and follow the natural course, sometimes it's not what feels right. When a friend is murdered, a child is molested, or a woman raped, no "justice" is worthy of that kind of evil. A lynch mob is expedience, it's streamlined, made to order death penalty. There is nothing that can bring back those friends, but justice isn't for them, it's for the family and society. Why, therefore, is justice not looking to be expedient? Why bother a court and jury when one can round up the guilty party and sort it out themselves? We all want to be moral, and right, when it suits us. When you learn that a friend and neighbor has been murdered, and emotions run high, however, you'll saddle up, right next to the rest of them. Conscience and the rule of law have very little to do with the actions that you will take to make things right. No, I cannot say, in confidence, that I could have gone against the crowd, because the truth is, I have been in that crowd, and the only thing that stopped us was the same emotion that rallied us to action.

My heart is saddened by the state of our world. Children murdered at school, people gunned down in their houses, but, all these things have something in common: Evil. Evil hearts did this, there isn't a cure all to these things. Moral decay, hate, bullying, mental illness, drugs, alcohol, weapons, whatever you want to blame it on, that's all it is. Blame, we want a scapegoat to scream at and blame. We don't need blame, we need men like Dave, like those men in Vegas who loaded wounded into a commandeered truck and hauled them to the hospital. We need love, like the love that we all felt when we learned that our loved ones weren't on the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers. We need trust, like the trust your child places upon you to never hurt or abandon them. We need the strength to dust ourselves off like the firefighters on the ground floor of the World Trade Center, the power to carry on. We need the power to hold each other, to love each other, and to trust that good triumphs. It may not look like that when something evil happens, but it does. Dave's murderer went to prison. Mass shooters kill themselves, or get taken to prison, and we come together in our times of darkness and doubt.

Hate all you want. Hold hate in your heart and it will consume you. Hold hate in your heart, and you are no better than these people who do evil. It was the hate in their hearts that moved them to evil actions. That is why, as I write this, with tears in my eyes, and pain in my heart, I will say this: I will never forgive what he did, but his ignorance and evil will not belong to me. I don't love him, but I do not hate him anymore. He is nothing to me, as should those that you hate be to you.

Hate is preparing poison, then drinking it yourself so your enemy cannot. Hate is too strong an emotion to waste on nothing, I choose to love, I hold my friends close, my family I hold them closer. I'm slow to anger and quick to forgive because I love even those I don't know. No church taught me this kind of love. A one eyed tattoo artist who liked to dress up as a luchador, play Ticket to Ride, and listen to heavy metal, that's who taught me that kind of love.

Submitted: February 16, 2018

© Copyright 2022 Foxx Mann. All rights reserved.

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Shmuel Wyckoff

Wow! Beautifully written!

Fri, February 16th, 2018 3:15pm

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