Friday, December 12, 2014

Balance - or Lady Justice's Lament

Have we achieved that ever elusive balance between order and freedom? Our country was based upn those principals, yet we find ourselves locked in a heightening battle between the two. That is the very purpose of our legal system, spearheaded by the image of the Lady Justice (looking remarkably like Temperance from the tarot) holding a set of scales.

I have heard the argument that torture is equivalent to innovation when speaking of the torture of suspected terrorists in the wake of 9/11. It was a well formed argument, though the person making it was playing devil's advocate more than ACTUALLY serious. He drew a parallel to Lincoln's presidency and his suspension of habeas corpus. If someone could reasonably make that argument, then someone could reasonably make the argument that we have struck the perfect balance between personal liberties and civil order, however, that suture is what makes society.

Taking into account the deaths of multiple unarmed young black men, taking into account Bush's torture of SUSPECTED terrorists, it is clear that proper balance has not been found. A few years ago, Persepolis was banned from Chicago Public Schools. They said it was due to the torture scene, which details a penis urinating on a word and bloody back, however, the subtext was clear. They didn't want to expose children to literature that was sympathetic to Iran.

To take this further, perhaps the struggle is what creates society. Considering that we've fed on conflict since antiquity, perhaps we would simply collapse without it. Consider the State of Nature philosophers,  Hobbes,  Locke,  and Rousseau. All of them, despite their many differences in philosophy,  agree that our rights and personal liberties are signed over to protect ourselves. With perfect balance,  the role of Government disappears, and not long beyond that we would degenerate to where we were at the beginning and a whole new deal would begin.
Perhaps balance is literally impossible to achieve, but we certainly do not have it now. For the moment, any way, Lady Justice's scales will continue to tip back and forth in a frenzy.

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