Friday, October 21, 2011


I am fascinated by the view that justice can only be done via courtroom proceedings.

No doubt that is a good rule of thumb. But it in no way approximates an absolute truth.

Take the statement,"the Yankees are better than the Red Sox." It may be true in the broader context, yet will often be untrue in the specific context. The Yankees have won more baseball titles than the Red Sox and in many years will have a better record than the Beantowners. But then there will be the anomalies: for example, a year when the Red Sox win the World Series.

When it comes to justice, the only real question should be "Did that person get what he deserved?" Or, in other words, "Did that person do that of which he was accused?" Anything else is little more than a procedural safeguard intended to ensure the correct answer to those two questions.

So, as much as it unnerves me that Colonel Gaddafi was brutalized and killed by his captors, I am not devoted enough to procedural niceties to insist that an injustice has been done. Using assassination to eliminate political dissent, that may be an injustice. Slaughtering your own people in response to their opposition to your policies, that may be an injustice. Killing an oppressive tyrant who rapaciously and ruthlessly imposed his government on the people through violence and terror, that is not an injustice.

When the punishment fits the crime, the only thing left to ask is whether or not one can make a plausible argument that the accused did not commit the crime. If the answer is no, then a courtroom is little more than form. Perhaps not gratuitous, but certainly not necessary.

So please forgive me if I find there to be nothing disturbing about Gaddafi's killing at the hands of a Libyan mob. The man had it coming. Justice has been served.