Saturday, June 09, 2007

Paris in

I was doing a really good job of sneaking around privately on the internet, studying the recent photos of Paris Hilton in the international mass media (how will she ever move on from this, one wonders?), and frankly, embarrassed that I was even paying attention, when I came across The Angry Black Woman's post on the situation. And then I realized why I was so mesmerized.

It's not just sour grapes. I don't wish Paris Hilton ill. Hell, I don't even know the woman. And I try not to wish anybody ill because I honestly do believe it rolls back on ya. And I most certainly do not think this is an indicator of "justice" being served. There is no justice that I can see in this world at this time outside of the justice I already mentioned (which some people call "karma" and which is plenty enough justice for many of us in the end, but does not release us from the responsibility of trying to treat others the way we would want to be treated). Whether or not Paris does the time for doing the crime is not in any way going to affect the balance of power in the U.S. or in the world and certainly not in the courts.

However (and you must have seen this coming, right?), there is something about seeing a rich, young, White woman in handcuffs freaking out in the back seat of a cop car that illustrates most graphically the chasm between her and the rest of us, most particularly those of us who happen to be of color. In contrast, in her post, The Angry Black Woman offers the example of what happened to Jonathan Magbie of Washington, D.C. I would offer what happened to 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson, who was killed by a group of "officers" on his first day in a youth "facility" here in Florida, where he was placed for the heinous crime of trespassing on a school yard he'd been told not to visit. (Talk about the punishment fitting the crime.)

It's true that the "facility" and others like it in Florida have been subsequently shut down. And it's true that the state of Florida recently agreed to pay Martin's parents five million dollars in apology. Both of these actions, by the way, were made in direct response to a video tape that turned up showing the whole horrifying episode, which could bring us to ask how many people of color -- men, women, and children -- have been and are being similarly brutalized on an on-going basis because there is or was no video.

But my point is, as it often is on this blog, that neither Paris' story, nor Jonathan's, nor Martin's will change, I fear, the use of the justice system in the U.S. and the world as a tool of oppression against people of color, the poor, and those who are their allies. In fact, I'm having trouble understanding how Paris Hilton wound up there at all.


Peacechick Mary said...

I think we should rename the Justice System to a Punishment System. People seem so intent on punishing or retribution that it totally bypasses justice. What would be just for people would be some sort of program that helps "criminals" to learn to help others grow and be healthier. Now that makes sense so it probably won't happen.

Changeseeker said...

I agree, Mary. Our system is based on what they call "retributive justice." For a number of years now, some professionals in the field have been calling for a new approach they call "restorative justice," based on the idea that "crime" wounds the whole community and the whole community needs to be healed in order for crime to stop. What a concept, huh?

Rafael said...

Agree on all three counts. Great pic by the way!

Changeseeker said...

Rafael: The picture (which I snagged from The Angry Black Woman) is what made me write the post. Otherwise, I don't do "entertainment news." :^D