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Can we really distinguish justice from revenge?

A newspaper drawing of Surratt receiving comfo...

A newspaper drawing of Surratt receiving comfort from one of the priests permitted to visit her in her prison cell. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Can we really distinguish justice from revenge? This is the question that lingers in my mind after watching the Conspirator.

It is a story of how a woman was defended before military tribunal by a war hero for conspiring to kill the president and others. Mary Surratt was forced to rely on  her lawyer, Aiken, to uncover the truth and save her life while the nation turns against her.

While watching the movie, I was already crafting the crust of my attempt to make sense of it. Judgment was my best candidate.

However, as the story unfolded, it unearthed what I considered the core of its value: fairness,  fear, and freedom.

On Fairness

Mary Surratt was already convicted even before the trial started. Her lawyer, Aiken, outspokenly sided with his comrades who died in war to defend freedom.  Her side of the story will be defended by the very person that abhors what she allegedly conspired with.

The trial is an attempt to bring president’s death to justice. Fairness is staged to satisfy the nation’s grievance and inflict fears to those intending to conspire.

On Fear

When the Secretary of War was asked if calamities, death, and war were not enough reasons to shove fear into people’s throat, the war freak insisted to keep the peace and conspired to put her to death despite the evidence on reasonable doubt.

Do fear factor, government conspiracy and military power sound familiar?

On Freedom

I am not a law expert but I agree with Aiken’s remark at the trial’s conclusion: to defend the weak, to protect the unfortunate and to ensure equal rights amongst all are the duties of lawyers and soldiers. These are so to uphold the constitution and to secure freedom and independence.

Can I discern justice from revenge?

My answer to the question is yes. The equally committing question how can be answered by the phrase ‘ beyond reasonable doubt‘. How we value doubt can be meaningful in arriving to a just conclusion. It’s not an easy task because it requires emotional mastery, reasoning, sharpness of mind and the courage to oppose popular opinion. But I am working on it.

Since we consider to answer the question, I guess we are on our way.

Do you know any other way to answer Can we really distinguish justice from revenge? Please let me know.

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One comment on “Can we really distinguish justice from revenge?

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