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Monday, October 03, 2011


Well, I have to agree with you since (before reading your comment) I thought Ms. Koch was confusing/substituting the two terms. My knowledge of their meanings does not have your educational background, of course.

I'd also have to disagree that putting yourself in someone else's shoes is a requirement for developing a sense of fairness... and then there's the problem of equating fairness with justice. They are related, but not equivalent. Fairness is much harsher, which is why justice considers mitigating circumstances.

Hi Donna,

That's an interesting observation. Could you elaborate, with hypothetical examples of fairness versus justice, if you can think of any that would clarify the difference?

Thx -- Dr X

I have read Brooks and others who seem to think they are smarter than us ordinary folks. I could tick off a half dozen at least---but it would only be my opinion and, inasmuch as I am only ordinary, no one would care. May I opine on the fairness vs. justice issue? Justice is, inherently, unfair to someone. This is one facet of our legal system that presents dichotomy. Another, that you may have heard of,has to do with the validity of TRUTH in a court of law. If you recall, truth, in court, has little meaning, if the opposing side is able to introduce and establish the credibility of facts that contravene the "truth".

Innocent people go to prison, almost every day, because of attorneys and their expertise in the application of legal chicanery. Seems to me---and others. Don't you think?

Fairness: elderly guy with prostate problems and dementia and (likely mentally ill) gay drug addict trying prostitution to earn money for a fix both expose genitals in a public park -- both are charged with obscenity (a felony) and because of solid video evidence from the vice squad both are found guilty and get the same sentence. The gay man is also charged with prostitution.

Justice: the vice squad would contact social services for the elderly man and the drug addict would be sentenced to a treatment facility -- another way of involving social services... and screened for mental illness.

Reality: they both spend one or two nights in jail (where the only empathy or sympathy either of them receive is from other inmates), then are sentenced to 6 months of sexual abuse group therapy designed for pedophiles.

Justice allows mercy, though in our system it doesn't necessarily require it. True justice (IMHO) would require it. Fairness excludes mercy by definition, doesn't it?

The gay man got more justice than the elderly man did because the charge of prostitution was dropped.

The appearance of justice was served because both were referred to social services in a program called pre-trial diversion which imposes an informal probation period and education rather than formal prosecution.

Fairness was served because they both got the exact same utterly ridiculous treatment.

The situation described above was related to me by the criminal defense attorney representing both men trying to convince himself that he'd done the best he could by getting and keeping them both out of jail... so not exactly a hypothetical.

oops...proofing too late - the drug addict is the one I meant to describe as mentally ill.

Thanks Donna--I see what you mean.

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