Msnowe's Blog

Blind-Sighted

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on August 2, 2007

Many issues get this blogger riled, but there’s one that constantly blips on the radar screen, perhaps a little too faintly for general liking.

Yesterday, there was a story reporting on an American Sociological Review study done by Ohio State University scientists regarding inmates on death row, and the race implications of actual executions (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20072722/site/newsweek/). I was fearfully reminded of something out of To Kill A Mockingbird, only this time the fictional account was less disturbing by comparison, as their was no Atticus Finch as a hard-nosed advocate of equal rights. It’s hard to be a proponent of a death penalty system that is not colorblind, and like the skin tones of the inmates, our justice system seems to be coded in “shades” of guilt, as if the same exact crime is a hue more violent, directly proportional to the tincture of the victim – the lighter the skin, the deeper the crime. Justice wears a blindfold, and yet the scales are invariably tipped before she even dons the cloth. Also, another interesting, but not entirely surprising aspect of the study: Republican saturated areas tend to see many more executions and death sentences than others. But that’s a hole this blogger would prefer not to dig into right now.

This morning, there was a story that is much more disturbing than the one above, by the mere fact that the people in this story are completely innocent, and yet the government powers that be refuse to acquit them. The story concenrs Hurricane Katrina, and the awarding of contracts/funding to large companies, and the disregard of small local business owners. Just another blow on the already piled-to-the-sky list of derisive government impediments to rebuilding the infrastructure and livelihoods of the people who most need help. Again, skin tone as well as financial status seems to be the measure of judicial review.
(Story here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20085608/)

One story is about the guilty, one about the utterly innocent; both about race, money, and the general lack of concern, or even concentrated disregard or infliction of harm on people of different races or low financial status. It’s easy to complicate studies with mitigating factors, but when you’ve seen and heard the kind of prejudicial treatment people receive, there is no way to let your mind retreat into solipsistic contemplations. We need to change our minds and hearts, and engender an environment where studies like the one above would be thought of as ridiculous pursuits that would yield absolutely no conclusive evidence of prejudicial treatment, or they would not even be thought of at all. We need to see everyone as Americans, free of hyphenation, hue, and stigma. We need blind sight- the suggestion of Lady Justice, but with scales in unyielding equilibrium.

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