11 October 2015

Justice lynched!

The blame, if one is tuned into social media punditry, is on two entities: the police and the media (mainstream, of course).  The police and the media not only raped and murdered a 5 year old girl again and again and again, but together they also lynched a whole bunch of suspects who, as the adage goes, have to be considered innocent until proven guilty. 

There’s media and there’s media, both mainstream and social.  Different ways, different audiences, different alibis and excuses, and of course different ways of washing hands.  In social media, for instance, those who rant about the mainstream media ‘raping and killing people over and over again’ typically keep mum on the very same crimes committed by their brethren.  And society in general, which makes similar charges, forget that media is in part a business, that information is bought and sold, and as such there’s an element of supply and demand.  

Think about it.  Didn’t people demand an arrest and thereby pressurize the Police to make one?  Sure, a professional police would go about its business disregarding such pressure, but if those who demand are human so are the officers tasked to investigate.  Didn’t people demand the lynching of the arrested?  Didn’t they in fact presume guilt and lynch people that the police hadn’t even questioned at the time?  Yes, they did.  The media did.  The people went along.  There was a lot of salivating, remember?  

Let’s recap.   A girl was abducted, raped and murdered.  She was just 5 years old.  The first person to be suspected was her father.  That suspicion was splashed all over newspapers and the reading publicized lapped up the story greedily.  People called for his blood.  The father was effectively stopped from burying his child.  Then the child’s grandfather was suspected.  Then it was the turn of a 17 year old boy in the neighborhood.  Then ‘Kondaya’.  The police secure a confession from him.  Later Kondaya’s brother confessed to the crime.  Now we are told that the father’s DNA is going to be checked against the DNA of the perpetrator as per evidence taken from the body of the child.  

It is alleged that the Police beat up the 17 year old boy.  So did Kondaya ‘confess’ under duress, we can legitimately ask.  Was his brother beaten up, we can also ask.  Given the incompetence of the Police (easily established by a skilled lawyer for any defendant) and given a long history of bullying and brutalizing suspects as well as extracted confessions, the integrity of DNA evidence will surely be suspect.  Who can prove beyond a shadow of doubt that evidence was not tampered with prior to tests and comparisons of DNA?  

It was a gruesome crime.  Public horror and outrage was natural.  Emotions clearly pushed aside reason.  The entire drama even prompted President Maithripala Sirisena to talk of the re-implementation of the death penalty.  The media was swarming all over the place from Day One.  The clutter and the cacophony that ensued not create the ideal circumstances to carry out a proper investigation, even if we had a competent Police with an unimpeachable history when it comes to the treatment of people in custody.  In short the entire business stinks and everyone contributed to this state of affairs, knowingly or unknowingly, by commission or omission.  What we saw, ladies and gentlemen, is a ‘busybodying' carnival.  We might get an arrest, a conviction and an execution of one kind or another, but questions will always remain whether justice was served or not.  

The one positive outcome of this entire process is that it constitutes an effective argument against capital punishment.  To put it in a nutshell, consider Kondaya’s confession and marry it with the demand to hang the guilty.  Now suppose justice was served swiftly.  Kondaya would be dead now.   If his brother actually committed the crime, then we would have hanged an innocent man.  In short we would have committed (legal) murder.  Then, going by the eye-for-an-eye argument for capital punishment, all of us would have to be hanged.  The argument of irrevocability was affirmed here.  The multiple ‘hangings’ referred to at the beginning of this article (that of the child’s father, grandfather and the 17 year old boy) show that not only does the punishment not fit the crime, innocents are also punished in the process.  

These positives aside, we have as a society, lynched a lot of people over the last few weeks.  We have made it possible for the perpetrator to get away with murder.  That’s what being zealous does.  That’s what interference does.  It gives a knock-out punch to an already tottering law enforcement establishment.  

Let us congratulate ourselves ladies and gentlemen.  We all got together and lynched justice.  

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