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Martin Luther King

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

in Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 April 1963)Report problemRelated quotes
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On the Innate Drive For What is Right

As life bled, martyrdom flared its buds.
Repression, red from irritation,
Rendered chinks and cracks; but thuds of
Armament - in cowardice - accomplice of the
Dictatorial blight thro' countless years -
Wreaked its retribution:
Yet hope began to bloom a coloured carapace
Enshrining their allegiance ‘gainst the
Terror in their tears.

And on! Splits yawned - breaches in the junta:
Flesh fought fanatical minds -
Bullets welcomed into open hands
And blessed with yearnings for morality:
Chiselled man-toys of death and mutilation
Couldn't repel the might of freedom
Surging at the bright horizon.

Crepuscular rays of purpose, body,
Flooded pandemonium with
Overwhelming clarity, direction -
Burdened clouds drifting wayward as the
Light channelled out a vision,
Intensifying focus on tomorrow -
Deepen their stride
As they home in to
What is theirs,
Rightfully theirs!


Copyright © Mark R Slaughter 2011


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Justice...

… Slow Justice
Is Better Than No Justice
… I Just Want Justice and Peace

To Feel Justice
It Must Be Real Justice
Not Cut-Deals Or Just A Piece

Full Justice
Not Pull The Wool Justice
She’s Already Been Blindfolded Enough

We Accuse Justice
But To Lose Justice
Is To Unlock Chaos’ Cuffs

Justice
Is Lustrous
In Pearls Of Conviction Displayed

Justice
The Huntress
Were Wild-Wily-Wrongs Are Caged

A Cry For Justice
Is Why Justice’s
Scales-Weights Shouldn’t Be In Doubt

Legal Justice
Be Equal Justice
With Rules To Balance It Out

Honest Justice
Promise Justice
Is Right For The Poor and Oppressed

But Even Rich Justice
And Even Quick Justice
Should Be A Standard, Silvered Process

Raw Justice
Shouldn’t Be Flawed Justice
But Free To All Everywhere

The Power Of Justice
Is That The Hour Of Justice
Doesn’t Run Out Of Time Anywhere

Men Must Court Justice
And Support Justice

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Justice Of The Peace

(ian hunter)
Its such a terrible shame it was only a game
Then her brothers found out seven johnny be goodes
We was only pretending at mummys and daddys
They totally misunderstood
Oh what a terrible plight what a terrible fight
It was too much to bear her father said ere
I think you better sign its a letter designed
To have you married by the first of the year
Get the justice of the peace
Get the justice get the justice of the peace
Oh get the justice of the peace
Get the justice get the justice of the peace
If you want to play with fire
Youll get yourself burned
I was messing with the ashes
But look at how it turned out
Get the justice of the peace
Get the justice get the justice of the peace
Oh what a terrible waste such a shocking disgrace
To give me away Im too young to die
A shotgun wedding heading straight for the sky
And Im shy mary ellen Im shy y y y
Get the justice of the peace
Get the justice Ill get the justice of the peace
Come on!
Get the justice of the peace
Get the justice Ill get the justice of the peace
When your chips go down
You came on the dice
Forget the mississippi
Take some friendly advice
Get the justice of the peace
Ill get the justice Ill get the justice of the peace
(give it to me old chum)
Get the justice of the peace
Get the justice Ill get the justice of the peace
Get the justice of the peace
Get the justice Ill get the justice of the peace
If you want to play with fire
Youll get yourself burned
And I was messing with the ashes
And look at how it turned out
Ill get the justice get the justice of the peace
Ill get the justice Ill get the justice of the peace
Ill get the justice get the justice of the peace
Ill get the justice Ill get the justice of the peace
Ill get the justice get the justice of the peace
Ill get the justice Ill get the justice of the peace
Ill get the justice get the justice of the peace

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Hammer Of Justice

You see me but I'm not there
Like the calm before the storm
You hear me, I'm everywhere
In the wind and in the rain
Feel me in every breeze
I'm the chill inside your spine
I'm burning you start to freeze
As you slowly turn around
And down in your hole
Solitary darkness rule
You are forlorn
Cause justice will be mine
Prowling the night
Justice calling - We'll track you down
Justice calling - Ready to strike
Justice calling - Breaking the chains
Hammer of Justice seeking his revenge
Dead man walking by
There's a void inside his eyes
Judgement, a final sigh
Here the screams electrified
As the mirror turns blank
And your essence fades away
Your chapter's closed
Sealed with thunderbolts
Prowling the night
Justice calling - We'll track you down
Justice calling - Ready to strike
Justice calling - Breaking the chains
Strike with the Hammer of Justice
Justice calling - We'll track you down
Justice calling - Ready to strike
Justice calling - Breaking the chains
Hammer of Justice seeking his revenge
I see the injustice everywhere I go
I search for tomorrow and I know you will be there
The hammer of justice holds the key to the future
The bringer of sorrow is the last you'll see
Justice calling - We'll track you down
Justice calling - Ready to strike
Justice calling - Breaking the chains
Strike with the Hammer of Justice
Justice calling - We'll track you down
Justice calling - Ready to strike
Justice calling - Breaking the chains
Hammer of Justice seeking his revenge

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Wandering Justice

Wandering Justice
O! Dear, have I hit a miss?
With wandering justice

When society systems fail
And someone goes to jail
Without any chance of bail
Or ever setting out again on sea to sail
For something they did not do; it is a sad tale

When there is war instead of peace
And dignified people are looking for ass to kiss
Where is justice?

Countries are suffering in health and poverty
Whilst others are enjoying wealth and property
Where is justice?

O! Dear, have I hit a miss?
With wandering justice

When someone you love
Is taken away to the skies above
Where is the justice?

When you read endlessly to take exams
Another passes it with some fraudulent scam
Where is the justice?

When all your life you work so hard
Doesn’t it get you viciously mad?
When the jackpot hits another who is bad
Where is the justice?

When life takes away your child
Because you ignored health symptoms as mild
Where is the justice?

At work when your original innovations
Reward your boss with a standing ovation
Followed by a double or triple promotion
And all you get from the boss is a caution
Where is the justice?

When living a healthy life is nothing but a trick
As destiny picks on you for the sake of a kick
With illnesses for the unhealthy and the weak
All the same you are the one who ends up sick
Where is the justice?

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Tale I

That all men would be cowards if they dare,
Some men we know have courage to declare;
And this the life of many a hero shows,
That, like the tide, man's courage ebbs and flows:
With friends and gay companions round them, then
Men boldly speak and have the hearts of men;
Who, with opponents seated miss the aid
Of kind applauding looks, and grow afraid;
Like timid travelers in the night, they fear
Th' assault of foes, when not a friend is near.
In contest mighty, and of conquest proud,
Was Justice Bolt, impetuous, warm, and loud;
His fame, his prowess all the country knew,
And disputants, with one so fierce, were few:
He was a younger son, for law design'd,
With dauntless look and persevering mind;
While yet a clerk, for disputation famed,
No efforts tired him, and no conflicts tamed.
Scarcely he bade his master's desk adieu,
When both his brothers from the world withdrew.
An ample fortune he from them possessed,
And was with saving care and prudence bless'd.
Now would he go and to the country give
Example how an English 'squire should live;
How bounteous, yet how frugal man may be,
By well-order'd hospitality;
He would the rights of all so well maintain.
That none should idle be, and none complain.
All this and more he purposed--and what man
Could do, he did to realise his plan;
But time convinced him that we cannot keep
A breed of reasoners like a flock of sheep;
For they, so far from following as we lead,
Make that a cause why they will not proceed.
Man will not follow where a rule is shown,
But loves to take a method of his own:
Explain the way with all your care and skill,
This will he quit, if but to prove he will. -
Yet had our Justice honour--and the crowd,
Awed by his presence, their respect avow'd.
In later years he found his heart incline,
More than in youth, to gen'rous food and wine;
But no indulgence check'd the powerful love
He felt to teach, to argue, and reprove.
Meetings, or public calls, he never miss'd -
To dictate often, always to assist.
Oft he the clergy join'd, and not a cause
Pertain'd to them but he could quote the laws;
He upon tithes and residence display'd
A fund of knowledge for the hearer's aid;

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The Tale of Gamelyn

Fitt 1

Lithes and listneth and harkeneth aright,
And ye shul here of a doughty knyght;
Sire John of Boundes was his name,
He coude of norture and of mochel game.
Thre sones the knyght had and with his body he wan,
The eldest was a moche schrewe and sone bygan.
His brether loved wel her fader and of hym were agast,
The eldest deserved his faders curs and had it atte last.
The good knight his fadere lyved so yore,
That deth was comen hym to and handled hym ful sore.
The good knyght cared sore sik ther he lay,
How his children shuld lyven after his day.
He had bene wide where but non husbonde he was,
Al the londe that he had it was purchas.
Fayn he wold it were dressed amonge hem alle,
That eche of hem had his parte as it myght falle.
Thoo sente he in to contrey after wise knyghtes
To helpen delen his londes and dressen hem to-rightes.
He sent hem word by letters thei shul hie blyve,
If thei wolle speke with hym whilst he was alyve.

Whan the knyghtes harden sik that he lay,
Had thei no rest neither nyght ne day,
Til thei come to hym ther he lay stille
On his dethes bedde to abide goddys wille.
Than seide the good knyght seke ther he lay,
'Lordes, I you warne for soth, without nay,
I may no lenger lyven here in this stounde;
For thorgh goddis wille deth droueth me to grounde.'
Ther nas noon of hem alle that herd hym aright,
That thei ne had routh of that ilk knyght,
And seide, 'Sir, for goddes love dismay you nought;
God may don boote of bale that is now ywrought.'
Than speke the good knyght sik ther he lay,
'Boote of bale God may sende I wote it is no nay;
But I beseche you knyghtes for the love of me,
Goth and dresseth my londes amonge my sones thre.
And for the love of God deleth not amyss,
And forgeteth not Gamelyne my yonge sone that is.
Taketh hede to that oon as wel as to that other;
Seelde ye seen eny hier helpen his brother.'

Thoo lete thei the knyght lyen that was not in hele,
And wenten into counselle his londes for to dele;
For to delen hem alle to on that was her thought.
And for Gamelyn was yongest he shuld have nought.
All the londe that ther was thei dalten it in two,
And lete Gamelyne the yonge without londe goo,

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...And Justice For All

Halls of Justice Painted Green
Money Talking
Power Wolves Beset Your Door
Hear Them Stalking
Soon You'll Please Their Appetite
They Devour
Hammer of Justice Crushes You
Overpower

The Ultimate in Vanity
Exploiting Their Supremacy
I Can't Believe the Things You Say
I Can't Believe
I Can't Believe the Price You Pay
Nothing Can Save You

Justice Is Lost
Justice Is Raped
Justice Is Gone
Pulling Your Strings
Justice Is Done
Seeking No Truth
Winning Is All
Find it So Grim
So True
So Real

Apathy Their Stepping Stone
So Unfeeling
Hidden Deep Animosity
So Deceiving
Through Your Eyes Their Light Burns
Hoping to Find
Inquisition Sinking You
With Prying Minds

The Ultimate in Vanity
Exploiting Their Supremacy
I Can't Believe the Things You Say
I Can't Believe
I Can't Believe the Price You Pay
Nothing Can Save You

Justice Is Lost
Justice Is Raped
Justice Is Gone
Pulling Your Strings
Justice Is Done
Seeking No Truth
Winning Is All

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... & Justice For All

Halls of justice painted green
Money talking
Power wolves beset your door
Hear them stalking
Soon youll please their appetite
They devour
Hammer of justice crushes you
Overpower
The ultimate in vanity
Exploiting their supremacy
I cant believe the things you say
I cant believe
I cant believe the price you pay
Nothing can save you
Justice is lost
Justice is raped
Justice is gone
Pulling your strings
Justice is done
Seeking no truth
Winning is all
Find it so grim
So true
So real
Apathy their stepping stone
So unfeeling
Hidden deep animosity
So deceiving
Through your eyes their light burns
Hoping to find
Inquisition sinking you
With prying minds
The ultimate in vanity
Exploiting their supremacy
I cant believe the things you say
I cant believe
I cant believe the price you pay
Nothing can save you
Justice is lost
Justice is raped
Justice is gone
Pulling your strings
Justice is done
Seeking no truth
Winning is all
Find it so grim
So true
So real
Lady justice has been raped
Truth assassin

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Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough, and William of Cloudesly

Part the First


Mery it was in the grene forest
Amonge the leves grene,
Wheras men hunt east and west,
Wyth bowes and arrowes kene,

To ryse the dere out of theyr denne,
Suche sightes hath ofte bene sene,
As by thre yemen of the north countrey,
By them it is I meane.

The one of them hight Adam Bel,
The other Clym of the Clough,
The thyrd was William of Cloudesly,
An archer good ynough.

They were outlawed for venyson,
These yemen everychone;
They swore them brethren upon a day,
To Englyshe-wood for to gone.

Now lith and lysten, gentylmen,
That of myrthes loveth to here:
Two of them were single men,
The third had a wedded fere.

Wyllyam was the wedded man,
Muche more then was hys care:
He sayde to hys brethren upon a day,
To Carleile he would fare,

For to speke with fayre Alyce his wife,
And with hys chyldren thre.
'By my trouth,' sayde Adam Bel,
'Not by the counsell of me.

'For if ye go to Carleile, brother,
And from thys wylde wode wende,
If the justice may you take,
Your lyfe were at an ende.'

'If that I come not to-morrowe, brother,
By pryme to you agayne,
Truste you then that I am 'taken,'
Or else that I am slayne.'

He toke hys leave of hys brethren two,
And to Carleile he is gon;

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Justice is Just This

What is justice?
This unapparent fairness
Supposed to combine rather than divide
Just a word that likes to hide
This unapparent fairness
What is justice?

Justice, is between you and if you are righteous
And you might just be righteous,
But you don’t have the intelligence of the truths of real justice.
Justice, is merely impossible because we have created injustice.
And just this.

It may be a tongue twister to read
But justice is a twist of the tongue indeed
A twist of the lung, you can’t breathe
A twist of the fun, full of hypocrisy and greed
A fake term misused, abused of its creed
Our mouths say justice, but injustice is what we really speak
And just this.

What is justice?
This unapparent fairness
Supposed to combine rather than divide
Just a word that likes to hide
This unapparent fairness
What is justice?

Just a word, and just this.

Check the performance by Aadil Malik by searching 'Justice is Just This Aadil Malik' on YouTube.

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Rape

(ian hunter)
He searched through his love like a thief on the run
He searched through his face - to see the guilt water run
But hes fresh out of tears and nobody has come
And justice has got to be done
Oh moon in the city stay open and clear
For his vision aint good and his minds disappeared
Get along mother nature they spat at your son
So justice has got to be done
And beauty is lying alone in the park
Her friend has gone bowling in the alleys so dark
Wheres her knight in white armour who rides a chrome ford
Justice would seem to be bored
Justice would seem to be bored
A knife full of life penetrated the bait
While he thinks o the sister and the mother that he hates
And he thinks hell get off cos hes sick, and stoned
And justice was made to be honed
And justice was made to be honed
And his lawyer is smiling one hell of a smile
n hes lying all the lies - of the lies in exile
While shes dying of grief hes defending his brief
And justice would seem to be cheap
And justice would seem to be cheap
Well Ive searched through the falling, and I searched through the failed
Ive searched through the jury - the judge and the jailed
But sleeping beauty is dead no use pricking her thumb
And justice has got to be done
Justice just is - justice just is - justice just is - not!

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Delayed Justice...

(This poem is dedicated to Hollister #22.)

Delayed justice is better than no justice.
The world will always be round.
Facts cannot be altered; prejudice
Is a major impediment to reach sound
Justice. Justice is all we want,
Fairness is what we fight for,
Justice is what we cry for,
Fairness is what we want.

All lives are special.
All God's children are beautiful.
All colors are essential,
To make the rainbow normal.

Justice, Justice is what we want,
Fairness is what we fight for.

Equality under the law is critical.
Equal shade can only make the rainbow
More beautiful and more impartial;
No justice will always be a Big No, No.

Justice is what we cry for,
Fairness is what we want.

The world will always be round.
Finally, we can hear the sound
Of the bells. Justice is around
The corner; she is upward bound.

Delayed justice is better than no justice.

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The Canon Of Aughrim

You ask me of English honour, whether your Nation is just?
Justice for us is a word divine, a name we revere,
Alas, no more than a name, a thing laid by in the dust.
The world shall know it again, but not in this month or year.

Honour? Oh no, you profane it. Justice? What words! What deeds!
Look at the suppliant Earth with its living burden of men.
Here and to Hindostan the nations and kings and creeds
Praise your name as a god's, the god of their children slain.

Which of us doubts your justice? It is not here in the West,
After six hundred years of pitiless legal war,
The sons of our soil are in doubt. They know, who have borne it, best:
The world is famished for justice. You give us a stone, your law.

These are its fruits. Yet, think you, the Ireland where men weep
Once was a jubilant land and dear to the Saints of God.
All you have made it to--day is a hell to conquer and keep,
Yours by the right of the strongest hand, the right of the rod.

History tells the story in signs deep writ on the soil,
Plain and clear in indelible type both for fools and wise.
Here is no need of books, of any expositor's coil.
He who runs may read, and he may weep who has eyes.

This is the plain of Aughrim, renowned in our Irish story
Because of the blood that was shed, the last in arms by our sons,
A fight in battle array, with more of grief than of glory,
Where as a Nation we died to dirge of your English guns.

So the Chroniclers tell us, and turn in silence their page,
Ending the fighting here. I tell you the Chroniclers lie.
Spite of the hush of the dead, the battle from age to age
Flames on still through the land, and still at men's hands men die.

Look! I will show you the footsteps of those who have died at your hand,
Done to death by your law, alas, and not by the sword,
Only their work remaining, a nations's track in the sand,
Ridge and furrow of ancient fields half hid in the sward.

Step by step they retreated. You fenced them out with your Pale,
Back from township and city and cornland fair by the Sea.
Waterford, Youghal and Wexford you took and the Golden Vale.
Tears were their portion assigned: for you their demesnes in fee.

Back to the forest and bog. They shouldered their spades like men,
Fought with the wolf and the rock and the hunger which holds the hill.
Still new homesteads arose where fever lurked in the fen,
Still your law was a sword that hunted and dogged them still.

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Damien

Things are done that I just don't understand
There's hardly no time left for the average young man
Works his arse off 'til his blue in the face
Drugged with hope so he can keep up the pace

And soon he joins the unemployed
Where all hope and ambition are destroyed
Is there any justice left in this world
Is there any justice left in this world

A situation that I don't understand
A desperation that just got out of hand
He didn't realize what steps he should take
He didn't realize that his life was at stake

He left us thinking yet again
Another passing of a friend

Is there any justice left in this world
Is there any justice left in this world
Is there any justice left in this world
Is there any justice left in this world
Is there any justice left in this world
For you and me
Damien.

A contemplation left much to late
A deliberation we all left to fate
We didn’t understand the role we should play
We ignored the facts hoping they would simply fade away

He left us thinking yet again
Another passing of a friend

Is there any justice left in this world
Is there any justice left in this world
Is there any justice left in this world
Is there any justice left in this world
Is there any justice left in this world
For you and me
Damien.

Copyright Colin Coplin 1984/2010

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Justice Delayed, Justice Denied

JUSTICE DELAYED, JUSTICE DENIED
Melvin Banggollay


Everyone has the basic right
To get justice with all its might
Which due process should fight
for real justice to shade its light.

But today as politics come to play
or richness and power interplay
With judicial systems foreplay
Justice delayed in so many way.

Justice delayed, justice denied
An unjust lawyer motto and pride
Only to show their wit as they ride
in the hall of justice with all stride.
but never for lawyers who abide
by truth their conscience can't hide.

Let's not circumvent truth with lies
Or trickery with our masterful ability
To set a culprit free from agony
in our greed for honey and money
at the expense of our honor and dignity
before God and the eyes of humanity.

Let the truth always set us free
Let it previal even its hurts any
For this is the real face of reality
that must take its light to carry
Justice to safeguard humanity.

Let us not circumvent in any way
The law just to protect one's impurity
Seal the truth to hide one's criminality
And do everything for one's posterity
even if that man is the real culprit
Even that man did all the merit
of the crime he can never discredit
yet with a lawyers treachery and wit
that man can be freed by his credit.

In so many cases when the victim is poor
Justice takes a duckling walk in the floor
But if the victim belongs to the wealthy
Justice takes a leap across reality
For sometimes money, wealth and power
Push the cart of justice with all its grandeur.

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Neighborhood Threat

Down where your paint is cracking
Look down you backstair buddy
Somebodys living there and
He dont really feel the weather
And he dont share your pleasures
No he dont share your pleasures
Look at his eyes
Did you see his crazy eyes
Youre so surprised he dont run to catch your ash
Everybody always wants to kiss your trash
Ah you cant help him
Nobody can
Now that he knows
Theres nothing to get
Will you still place your bet
On the neighborhood threat
Somewhere a babys bleeding
Somewhere a mothers needing
Outside a boy is lying
But mostly he is crying
And he just shouts in anger
Youll find him interesting
Look at his eyes
Did you see his crazy eyes
Youre so surprised he doesnt build for you
Everybody always wants to run with you
Ah you cant help him
Nobody can
Now that he knows
Theres nothing to get
Will you still place your bet
On the neighborhood threat
Youre so surprised he dont run to catch your ash
Everybody always wants to kiss your trash
Ah you cant help him
Nobody can
Now that he knows
Theres nothing to get
Will you still place your bet
On the neighborhood threat
On the neighborhood threat (a night in your face)
Dont place your bets (a night in your place)
On the neighborhood threat (will you still place your bets)
Dont place your bets (when the neighbor comes)
On the neighborhood threat (neighborhood threat)
Dont place yor bets
On the neigborhood threat

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Of Justice

'Tis the first sanction Nature gave to man,
Each other to assist in what they can;
Just or unjust, this law for ever stands;
All things are good by law which she commands;
The first step, man t'wards Christ must justly live,
Who t'us himself, and all we have, did give;
In vain doth man the name of just expect,
If his devotions he to God neglect;
So must we rev'rence God, as first to know
Justice from Him, not from ourselves, doth flow;
God those accepts who to mankind are friends,
Whose justice far as their own power extends;
In that they imitate the power Divine;
The sun alike on good and bad doth shine;
And he that doth no good, although no ill,
Does not the office of the just fulfil.
Virtue doth man to virtuous actions steer,
'Tis not enough that he should vice forbear;
We live not only for ourselves to care,
Whilst they that want it are denied their share.
Wise Plato said, the world with men was stored,
That succour each to other might afford;
Nor are those succours to one sort confined,
But sev'ral parts to sev'ral men consign'd;
He that of his own stores no part can give,
May with his counsel or his hands relieve.
If Fortune make thee powerful, give defence
'Gainst fraud and force, to naked innocence:
And when our Justice doth her tributes pay,
Method and order must direct the way.
First to our God we must with rev'rence bow;
The second honour to our prince we owe;
Next to wives, parents, children, fit respect,
And to our friends and kindred, we direct;
Then we must those who groan beneath the weight
Of age, disease, or want, commiserate.
'Mongst those whom honest lives can recommend,
Our Justice more compassion should extend;
To such, who thee in some distress did aid,
Thy debt of thanks with int'rest should be paid:
As Hesiod sings, spread waters o'er thy field,
And a most just and glad increase 'twill yield.
But yet take heed, lest doing good to one,
Mischief and wrong be to another done;
Such moderation with thy bounty join,
That thou may'st nothing give that is not thine;
That liberality's but cast away,
Which makes us borrow what we cannot pay.
And no access to wealth let rapine bring;
Do nothing that's unjust to be a king.

[...] Read more

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Should Justice Be Blind?

JUSTICE: SIGHTED OR BLINDED?


"Don't take a bribe, " the Bible says, "because they blind
those who are instructed to administer
justice." Those depicting justice often bind
the Lady's eyes. This act appears quite sinister
to Torah's jurisprudence. Doing this might steer
your judgment to the left or right, and make you look
with a vision that's obscured, and raise the fear
that you might violate the laws within the Book.

The artists thought impartiality and sight
to be in conflict: that is why they blinded Justice.
Bible law prioritizes vision: what is right
should never be the least obscured. Renaissance trust is
based on impartiality, whereas clear vision
is in the Torah's point of view the major given.
A judge must use his sight, and make no blind decision:
all biases caused by his sight must be forgiven.

The verses that I cite at the beginning of this poem are in Exod.23: 8 and Deut.16: 19

Randy Kennedy ("Two Legal Scholars Trace a Symbol Through the Ages, " NYT,12/16/10) writes:

In ancient Egypt she was known as Maat, the goddess of harmony and order, depicted in the Book of the Dead as a kind of personified jeweler's scale, weighing a human heart against a feather to determine a soul's fate in the afterlife.In Greece she became Themis, aunt, wife and counselor to Zeus, and the Romans then rolled her and her daughter Dike together to form Justitia, the only one of the cardinal virtues to have a signature look in ancient art. But the look of the grande dame we have come to know as Lady Justice — as interpreted by artists like Giotto, Brueghel and Reynolds — has been as changeable as a catwalk model's.
She has strode forth naked and clothed, shoeless and shod, sword wielding and weaponless. She has been accompanied by a dog (for fidelity) , a snake (for hatred) and a whole menagerie of other sidekicks that would befuddle the modern courthouse visitor, including an ostrich, whose supposed ability to digest anything was seen by the ancients as a useful attribute for the machinery of justice.
As the Yale Law School professors Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis show in an unusual new book just out, "Representing Justice" — an academic treatise on threats to the modern judiciary that doubles as an obsessive's tour of Western art through the lens of the law — Lady Justice's familiar blindfold did not become an accessory until well into the 17th century. And even then it was uncommon because of the profoundly negative connotations blindfolds carried for medieval and Renaissance audiences, who viewed them as emblems not of impartiality but of deception (hence the early use of the word hoodwink as a noun, meaning a blindfold or hood) .
"Sight was the desired state, " Professors Resnik and Curtis write, "connected to insight, light and the rays of God's sun." Even in modern times the blindfold continues to fit uneasily in Lady Justice's wardrobe, used as a handy prop by political cartoonists and a symbol of dysfunction by others. "That Justice is a blind goddess/Is a thing to which we black are wise, " Langston Hughes wrote in 1923. "Her bandage hides two festering sores/ That once perhaps were eyes."
It might convey some idea of the depth of Ms. Resnik and Mr. Curtis's mutual interest in the art life of Lady Justice that their examination of the history of her blindfold alone takes up one whole chapter and part of another in the book, following ideas of sight and veiling through the philosophy of Locke, Diderot and Bentham.


5/29/12 #10351

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Splitting Infinitives

Chief Justice Roberts hates to split
infinitives, and boldly goes
towards the future without wit,
his path as prim as that prim rose
that once Polonius boldly took,
advising Hamlet not to dally.
The Constitution almost shook
when he refused to shilly-shally,
and tried to wander in a way
that was unfaithful to the text
the oath of office. The next day
the problem was resolved, and now,
Queen’s English and our own unregal
language must agree that splitting
of infinitives is legal,
although pedantically unfitting,
since we’ve a President who swore
appropriately, and a Justice
who like Polonius is a bore
and clearly just as dry as dust is.

Inspired by Stephen Pinker’s Op-Ed article in the NYT, January 22,2009, appropriately titled “Oaf of Office, ” commenting on the fiasco created by Chief Justice Roberts when administering the oath of office to President Obama according togrammatical rules that conflict with the original text of the oath:
In 1969, Neil Armstrong appeared to have omitted an indefinite article as he stepped onto the moon and left earthlings puzzled over the difference between “man” and “mankind.” In 1980, Jimmy Carter, accepting his party’s nomination, paid homage to a former vice president he called Hubert Horatio Hornblower. A year later, Diana Spencer reversed the first two names of her betrothed in her wedding vows, and thus, as Prince Charles Philip supposedly later joked, actually married his father. On Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Flubber Hall of Fame when he administered the presidential oath of office apparently without notes. Instead of having Barack Obama “solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, ” Chief Justice Roberts had him “solemnly swear that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully.” When Mr. Obama paused after “execute, ” the chief justice prompted him to continue with “faithfully the office of president of the United States.” (To ensure that the president was properly sworn in, the chief justice re-administered the oath Wednesday evening.)
How could a famous stickler for grammar have bungled that 35-word passage, among the best-known words in the Constitution? Conspiracy theorists and connoisseurs of Freudian slips have surmised that it was unconscious retaliation for Senator Obama’s vote against the chief justice’s confirmation in 2005. But a simpler explanation is that the wayward adverb in the passage is blowback from Chief Justice Roberts’s habit of grammatical niggling. Language pedants hew to an oral tradition of shibboleths that have no basis in logic or style, that have been defied by great writers for centuries, and that have been disavowed by every thoughtful usage manual. Nonetheless, they refuse to go away, perpetuated by the Gotcha! Gang and meekly obeyed by insecure writers. Among these fetishes is the prohibition against “split verbs, ” in which an adverb comes between an infinitive marker like “to, ” or an auxiliary like “will, ” and the main verb of the sentence. According to this superstition, Captain Kirk made a grammatical error when he declared that the five-year mission of the starship Enterprise was “to boldly go where no man has gone before”; it should have been “to go boldly.” Likewise, Dolly Parton should not have declared that “I will always love you” but “I always will love you” or “I will love you always.”
Any speaker who has not been brainwashed by the split-verb myth can sense that these corrections go against the rhythm and logic of English phrasing. The myth originated centuries ago in a thick-witted analogy to Latin, in which it is impossible to split an infinitive because it consists of a single word, like dicere, “to say.” But in English, infinitives like “to go” and future-tense forms like “will go” are two words, not one, and there is not the slightest reason to interdict adverbs from the position between them.
Though the ungrammaticality of split verbs is an urban legend, it found its way into The Texas Law Review Manual on Style, which is the arbiter of usage for many law review journals. James Lindgren, a critic of the manual, has found that many lawyers have “internalized the bogus rule so that they actually believe that a split verb should be avoided, ” adding, “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers has succeeded so well that many can no longer distinguish alien speech from native speech.” In his legal opinions, Chief Justice Roberts has altered quotations to conform to his notions of grammaticality, as when he excised the “ain’t” from Bob Dylan’s line “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” On Tuesday his inner copy editor overrode any instincts toward strict constructionism and unilaterally amended the Constitution by moving the adverb “faithfully” away from the verb. President Obama, whose attention to language is obvious in his speeches and writings, smiled at the chief justice’s hypercorrection, then gamely repeated it. Let’s hope that during the next four years he will always challenge dogma and boldly lead the nation in new directions.


1/22/09

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