In the Land of Perfect Justice
My horror at state-sponsored killing has rendered me unable to write on the topic since the state of Georgia murdered Troy Davis just a little more than a week ago. Instead, let me recount a story my father used to tell, about "The Land of Perfect Justice," for those who believe justice was served by his execution:
In the land of perfect justice, a thief fell from a window ledge as he attempted to move from a tree and into the house. The ledge proved rotten, collapsed, and he ended up breaking his leg. He sued the house owner.
In court, the house owner said it wasn't his fault. He had contracted with a carpenter to fix that very ledge, but the carpenter had not arrived on the agreed date, the day before (as it happened) the attempted break-in. So the carpenter was brought to court.
"No, it's not my fault. I was on the way to the job when a woman passed by, the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I got so befuddled that I lost my way and didn't show up for the job. So, if you are to blame anyone, blame the woman." She, too, was called in.
"Oh, judge, just look at me. I am no more beautiful than the next woman," she said. "But I was wearing a new dress, one that makes me look better than I do at any other time. So, you really must look to the tailor, not to me." Next, of course, came the tailor.
"I am not going to lie to you: I made the best dress I could for that woman. Any tailor would have done the same. So, yes, I must be guilty."
They took the tailor out to hang him... but he was a very tall tailor and the gallows was too short. So, given that any tailor would have done the same, a short tailor was found and hanged instead.
Troy Davis might have committed the murder? I guess that's enough, as long as it was someone like him who did. He might as well die instead. After all, someone should. That's justice.
It doesn't matter if it was the right person, as long as someone paid.