Monday, November 1, 2010

Side-show justice

The temp agency I've been spending my mornings at waiting for work to come in has a TV on in the corner.  On that TV every morning comes a show.  This show is a disturbing mix of The People's Court and Jerry Springer.  It's called Eye For An Eye, and the judge on the show goes by the name of Extreme Akim.  He enters to a Springer like crowd chanting his name, armed with his Bat of Justice in replacement of the standard gavel.  Various plaintiffs and defendants plead their cases, a variety of small claims court type claims, X suing Y because of this, that and the other.  There are two scary things about the show.  First is the usual verdicts and sentences.  One example, a pair of sisters were suing each other over a lottery ticket.  The verdict was the two women had to find the ticket in a dumpster of trash out in the studio parking lot.  In another, a clown was accused of showing up to a birthday party drunk and traumatizing the youth, he got to sit and get pies in the face from all the kids that were at the party.  In one more case, a stripper came in claiming that she had a tape recording of the plaintiff's father leaving all his money to her. This case ended with the judge deciding the stripper was lying and ordering her down to the nearest tattoo parlor to get "golddigger" tattooed on her.  That one leads to the second scary part of the show.  That verdict was made with an "expert" listening to the taped will, and then listening to the deceased person's voice mail message, which was still available because it was a very recent passing.  Based on hearing these two pieces of recording once each, the witness determined that they were not the same person.
Now, I'll be the first to say that our current legal system has some serious problems, the main one being too many laws for too many lawyers to manipulate.  But despite that and other problems, this type of "justice" doesn't fly either.  How is it really justice to throw motor-oil balloons at the guy who sold you a car with the odometer rolled back?  It may vent some emotion, both for the thrower and some of the people watching who have had such things happen to them, but isn't one of the reasons for the court system to avoid such emotional reactions?  Aren't judges supposed to be looking at the facts they are presented, hold them up to the law, and make their judgments and punishments based on those?  Should legal punishments be subject to these kinds of emotion?  I don't think this type of courtroom is very far removed from the Roman Colosseum, where life and death hung by the crowd reaction, or the lynch mob justice seen in parts of the US over the years.  All these events do is further deteriorate our ideas of what justice is.  No mistake, there are numerous instances we all know, famous or not, where justice was not served in various court cases.  But like so many basic ideals, such as family, love, freedom, responsibility, reducing it to the lowest common denominator just further deteriorates the foundation, and right now, most of these basic ideals are on crumbling foundations due to apathy, ignorance, and laziness, and show like this simply keep chipping away at that damaged base.  Cursory investigation of the show doesn't solidly answer if Mr. Akim is an actual judge, though he is definitely a busy lawyer before the show, which frighteningly enough has been going for about six years.  The same cursory investigation indicates the show is connected to National Lampoon, which brings the title of Judge into question as well.  Everyone's second favorite source of random information wikipedia says the show is a form of binding arbitration as opposed to an actual small claims courts, again questioning if the title of Judge applies.  I'm not blaming the show for anything, but it's another symptom of a society in decay, syndicated in
69 countries.

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