Thursday, January 17, 2008

Just Judgments

I would like to propose a small exercise that should produce a bit more justice in our society.

When one reads news about a candidate who has been indicted, stop a moment before reading further and ask, "Is my attitude towards this crime going to be different depending on whether I discover that this person is a Democrat or a Republican?"

You cannot tell a person's party affiliation by the crime itself. You have to hunt for it. Yet, as a matter of fact, the party affiliation is not relevant (or should not be relevant) to ones judgment of the crime. It is like reading to discover the race of a criminal, and having one reaction upon discovering that the criminal is of the same race, and another upon discovering that he is of another race.

Among those who are likely to read this blog, the same question can be asked upon discovering that a particular perpetrator is a theist or an atheist. A report that a crime has been committed by a theist brings the response, "See how bad all theists are?" However, any report that a crime was committed by an atheist brings the response, "It's unfair to condemn all atheists for the actions of this individual."

So, I think that a little more justice can be found in the world if, upon discovering a story of this type, one were to say, "I am going to respond as if the accused were a member of my own political party, or shared my religious beliefs."

Of course, this does not apply if the act was a part of party or church doctrine. Where the reason to protest is found in a group's scripture or a party's official platform, then there is sound reason to distinguish between that group and some other that rejects that same view.

But I'm talking about crimes - activities that even members of the same organization would confemn.

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