The justice system in this country seeks to satisfy abstract legal principles, not make any sort of distinction between good and bad, right and wrong. By shaping social morals around these principles, and around the corrupted lawmaking practices that produce them, justice is often eluded, even isolated, by the disjointed nature of the system.
Thoreau wrote an essay in 1849 called ‘Civil Disobedience’ that set the tone of his politics. He asserted that “the only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right”. Thoreau offers an alternative to the moral prescription of the state, explaining that “the government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it.”
Like bipartisan politics, people have been tricked into another false axiom in regard to morality; things cannot be classified solely on the basis of right and wrong. A majority of the actions you carry out in your day-to-day life don’t fall into either category. Is it right that you had coffee this morning before work? Is it right that you went to work, or that you only went 5 mph over the speed limit on the way there? When compared to a legitimately good deed (I’m sure we can all conjure a personal example), these certainly fall short of ‘goodness’. Is it wrong that you didn’t respond to someone’s text, or that you slept in? Again, without context, and being compared to an act that really could be considered ‘wrong’, these don’t quite fit the description. These actions, instead of right and wrong, are rather sensical and nonsensical; they make sense or they don’t. This is a little more neutral of an approach to categorizing behavior that doesn’t rely on demonizing our neighbors or signaling towards our own virtue, or that of the unjust.
“Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice.”
The fact that the justice system in the United States comes down harder on some than it does others is further evidence to support the idea of an overhaul. Those with money, status, or power are able to elude the full consequences of some of their actions. The government’s open dishonesty with its citizens ensures that nothing it does or says can be trusted, particularly in regard to the administration of something as precious and valuable as justice. When examined from such an angle, it’s apparent that the system serves and even benefits a certain class, while turning a profit on others.
This division in consequences among the American class system creates different realities for each demographic – what this means is that no one is on the same page as anyone outside of their social or economic class. There are no overlaps in the way people perceive the establishment, its laws, and its idea of justice. This is how one group of people can demand more rights for themselves while condemning other groups for trying to obtain the same thing. Whichever demographic is perceived to have the most privilege does everything in its power to maintain that status while keeping the other demographics stripped of whatever rights that might bring them up to the same level. The American justice system further enables the class warfare that so effectively divides the people and keeps them entrenched in opposition.