Collateral Damage

vic·tim: noun 1). a person who suffers from a destructive or injurious action or agency: a victim of an automobile accident. 2.) a person who is deceived or cheated, as by his or her own emotions or ignorance, by the dishonesty of some impersonal agency: a victim of misplaced confidence.

– Dictionary.com 2012
Justice definition: is rendering to every one  that which is his due. It has been distinguished from equity in this respect, that while justice means merely the doing what positive law demands, equity means the doing of what is fair and right in every separate case.

– Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary

The judge in the case of the Aurora Colorado Theater Massacre has placed a “gag order” disallowing television cameras in the courtroom, at least for now, to grant a motion by the defense team protecting the murderer accused. This is a legal movement acceptable to lawyers under our judicial system. But it in no way offers justice to the victims, the collaterally damaged, of this most heinous crime.

People will argue the “victims” are those left dead. The level of their representation is assumed by the body of the state. It is the state that will seek justice in the name of the state. It will pay lip service to the corpora of the individuals killed by this man. The state claims the power to exact the legal definition of justice while looking at the crime through the myopic, distorting lens narrowing the judicial ethic to no more than abstract principles. It may be debated but never changed.

Lord George Savile Halifax said: “men are not hanged for stealing horses, but that horses may not be stolen”. By carrying forth a metaphor we can say victims lay not solely dead in the grave but left mourning beside it, weeping for his loved one’s untimely loss. That statement appears to indicate there is merely a monetary loss to be considered and nothing mentioned of the emotional, mental or spiritual loss of the person having been wronged and left behind.

Modern American Constitutional Justice requires the rights of the accused be held up to the highest level because it’s better to set free a thousand guilty men than hang one innocent one. We can’t disagree when we consider how injudiciously justice was meted out in the past. Those wrongly found guilty by lawful trial are being found innocent by fact (after the fact) and released from prison daily. This is as it should be.

But in this matter and so many more like it happening daily across America we find those left behind, those burying their dead and living with the loss, are NOT allowed to face the person accused because of legal procedure. The courtroom in Aurora has limited seating space. It’s first come first served to witness the proceedings.

Why can’t the secondary victims of this tragedy, the families of the dead be given preference to enter and seek justice? Reject the ghouls looking to be a part of the “action”. You don’t want hyperbolic theatrical posturing for the cameras jeopardizing the case; fine. Allow Closed Circuit Television so the disenfranchised collaterally damaged witness the proceedings. Allow those left behind to witness and make their presence known as surrogates for those lost to the criminal act.

The immediate victims hopefully rest in peace. Though cruelly removed from those who’ll never again know rest for what’s been done; they need representation. The state won’t know the pain of that empty chair at dinner each day. The state will never know the emptiness where a soul once existed for the presence of the once living, now dead. The state will not ever understand the personal loss of: a child, a brother, sister, parent or other related loved one ripped from their life by a madman’s act. The state cannot mend that tear.

But it can allow the survivors knowledge the state recognizes their loss and cares for the collaterally damaged victims as much as the self-serving action of demanding justice for the state.

The state should seek justice for those victims left behind. That will balance Justice’s scales.

Thanks for listening.



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