Thursday, November 25, 2021

Justice and the Bittersweet Exhalation


It shouldn't be so hard to expect that people who murdered a young man on video (and were so certain of the situation that one of them leaked the video of the slaying with the idea that it would resolve public opinion) would be convicted of the deed, but we don't live in the most logical of times (and never have!), and not even video of some slayings has been enough to condemn certain malefactors for one of the most heinous of crimes--because it is the most irrevocable--the taking of a life.

And yet, the system almost failed. It almost failed in many places and with several different people.  It took work to even bring charges. It shouldn't have been so in doubt that the Arbery family would get justice for their son. 

What I know is, while the judge and the prosecution in this case were excellent (and I look to the Rittenhouse case as I say that), the defense seemed disturbingly wed to the notion that the victim was the one on trial and that calling attention to the racial issue would somehow be beneficial to them. (Although it should have been clear that it was a factor--one that will be discussed in the federal case.) 

It should have been obvious that Ahmaud Arbery should not have had his life taken from him, but one of the comments the defense made me suck in such a gasp--that shamelessness about the dead man's toenails. The disrespect and denigration of a person in death as if acknowledging that, not anything Arbery did, but his appearance alone, could have warranted his death. 

That gasp--that inhalation at the realization that on some level, this expectation of bigotry was considered not an unfortunate bug of society but a feature to be relied on, was something I hadn't fully exhaled until the verdict was read out. How many others were holding their breath? How many others have held their breaths like this for an exhalation of justice that never came? How many times did it feel unsafe to breathe in freedom, or breathe out that fear and misgiving that a Black life mattered? 

The system isn't perfect but it's correctable. I am not big on faith, but I will believe in that. We just have to keep correcting as we go along. 


The Sophist said...

I also held my breath [metaphorically] until after the verdict. Truthfully, I haven't exhaled yet, b/c I expect something to fuck up and these men to go free, for there to be no justice for Ahmad and his family, for all of us.

Vixen Strangely said...

Exactly. There's a part of me that keeps thinking that there will be some terrible dumb loophole on appeal. I'm no lawyer, but I found the defense's obvious weird race-baiting stuff so ill-advised as to look like incompetent counsel but that's like, a total longshot appeal. It shouldn't happen but that still doesn't seem like a thing I couldn't plausibly see.

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