A Court of Law VS. The Court of Public Opinion
This is still America.
Though it is not the America I think of when I think of pride, patriotism and love of country. That America I equate with my Grandfather’s generation and the actions they took during World War II. It was a simpler time, as they say. A more honorable time, I say. A time that I greatly desire to see come again. We saw glimpses of that same America after 9/11, so I know that America still lives in us somewhere. And I want to believe we are slowly moving towards it again. However, there is something missing that we need back if we are to ever truly get back to that America again.
In the America of the past we would act on a matter because it was the right thing to do. We did not make decisions because they were politically advantageous. Instead we would look to a higher place. A place no longer allowed in the schools of our ‘civilized society’ for fear of offense to another. A place that was our guiding moral principles and where we drew our strength from as a nation. A place that was such an innate part of our lives throughout our history that our Founding Fathers wove it into our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence as the foundation of our country. A place we would turn to time and again to serve as our guiding star – our ‘True North’ – when all hope seemed to be lost.
Or at least we used too.
Take for example Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States. The accusations of Dr. Ford with no supporting evidence or corroborating witnesses would have been thrown out in every court of law in our nation. But that is not the case in the court of public opinion. It is there where it matters not what you can prove with facts and evidence. The accused has no rights above those seeking social justice and not justice.
They cannot defend themselves with facts and logic unless they first acknowledge the accusers’ pain and their right to feel however it is they feel. Even if those feelings are unfounded and implicate you in a potential criminal act. In the court of public opinion, it only matters what emotional response you can evoke from the jury and that those emotions mirror those of the accuser for a conviction. To those seeking social justice, feelings do not care about your facts. Sorry, Ben Shapiro.
After all, social justice is not the same as justice. It does not exist in the black and white world of right and wrong. It lives in the misty grey hues of feelings and emotions that our elders have always cautioned us never to make decisions upon them alone. And with good reason.
In a court of law, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. In the court of public opinion, the burden of proof of innocence is now the responsibility of the accused and is much more difficult to quantify. Any unwillingness on the part of the accused to defend themselves by denying the accusations or attempts to discredit the accuser is viewed as evidence of guilt and not innocence. You only have to look at the nomination of Kavanaugh and how it has been halted by unfounded accusations to see that truth play out in reality.
America has lost its moral compass. We are no longer able to see our ‘True North’ through the fog of social justice. The faith we once had in our religious convictions reflected in the faith we had in each other and as a nation. Without the principals that once guided our Founding Fathers and subsequently my Grandfather’s generation we have left ourselves with no foundation on which to firmly stand. It was our faith in God and the teachings of the Bible that gave us a firm and clear understanding of what is right and what is wrong. It is because of our inability to root ourselves in the belief of something greater than ourselves that we now default to emotional responses to answer some of life’s most difficult questions. Questions that should only be answered and acted upon with the truth dictating right over wrong.
Norman Doidge wrote the Foreword of Dr. Jordan Peterson’s most recent book 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos. In that foreword he talks about the complexity of life and how the Bible is essentially a set of rules for us to live by to avoid becoming slaves to our passions. When left to our own devices we tend to gravitate towards the things that make us feel good instead of what makes us good people. This is where Doidge makes a point that stuck out to me. He wrote,
“One neat thing about the Bible story is that it doesn’t simply list its rules, as lawyers or legislators or administrators might; it embeds them in a dramatic tale that illustrates why we need them, thereby making them easier to understand.”
To me this suggests that faith in God and attempting to live by His example as told by the Bible has less to do with the supernatural implications of religion and simply means that you strive to live by a set of rules that when followed are generally accepted as ‘good’.
It is by no means my position that should you not believe in God that it is impossible for you to be a good person and live a good life. What I am suggesting is that historically speaking when we as a nation would face adversity, as my Grandfather’s generation did and as did our Founding Fathers, we would look to a higher place for guidance. In doing so they often clearly saw the right thing to do and would follow that path with an unstoppable conviction. A conviction founded in the belief that they were doing the right thing for the right reasons in the eyes of God. To them there was no greater calling or purpose in life and they viewed that responsibility as an honor.
To this very day when you are called to testify in a court of law, you are sworn in and put under oath – your oath – to tell the truth. You are placed under your oath by raising your right hand, placing your left on the Bible and vowing to tell the truth – so help you God. We do this because as a nation we were founded on the principles held so dearly by our Founding Fathers that came from their faith in God. That any oath taken in the name of God is to be viewed as the truth as though you were speaking to Him on your day of judgement.
It’s fascinating to me that despite being under oath in a court of law people often times do not believe the testimony provided. Yet, in the court of public opinion no such oath is taken but those accusations and charges are taken at face value and treated as ‘gospel’ without any evidence to support them or witnesses testifying to their validity. The irony is not lost on me, I assure you – but what does that say to you about the state of our society today?
There is a reason why my Grandfather’s generation is referred to as ‘the greatest generation to have lived’. It’s because they knew right from wrong, saw the injustices in the world and our own country, rolled up their sleeves and got to work correcting them. America’s past is not without its imperfections – no nation that has ever risen to power is. But as has been stated by others more intelligent than I, what makes America so great is the fact that we took steps to correct those injustices and acknowledged our faults.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing if more people from both sides of the isle did that today? How do I get that on the docket for the court of public opinion?