Justice vs. Vengeance vs. Love vs. Forgiveness

Hi Law Folks!

Once you have completed your major paper, please have a listen to the following CBC broadcast of the show “Ideas”:

Based on what you know of the Norwegian massacre last year and based on your major paper, what is justice?

11 thoughts on “Justice vs. Vengeance vs. Love vs. Forgiveness

  1. Justice is the concept of being fair, which is balanced with reasonable punishment for violating the ethics which society has deemed to be of collective interest. I believe that the desire for justice/fairness is inherent in and universally cognizable by virtue of human nature, and is therefore a system of natural law. People use reason to deduce moral behavior by analyzing human nature and determining what is considered "good" or "bad" and appropriate consequences for violating these natural rules. These ocietal values/rights are then legally recognized and articulated through the judicial system, such as through the Constitution of Canada and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In the case of the Norweigan massacre, the fact that the man man accused of the mass killings would face a maximum penalty of only 21 years in prison if convicted has caused public outcry and been accused of being unfair punishment. According to some, the death penalty can be justified by the fact that he killed so many innocent people, and therefore has no right to live. They feel that it is unfair that he will only be 53 years old when released, and feel he should either be sentenced to a life in prison or executed. While the accused has admitted to the actus reus of physically committing the murders, he has denied criminal responsibility for them and pleaded not guilty. This could spark controversy over the intent to murder and his psychological health. It would seem unjustified to kill a man uncapable of rational judgement and in need of mental health treatment. Ultimately, I believe that in the name of justice, this man should never be released back into society. If he cannot serve a life sentence in prison, I believe it is important that he seeks professional psychological treatment and is detained from the public, as he poses a serious danger to the safety of society.

  2. Justice is quite a funny idea at its core. All it is, essentially, is a form of vengeance. Someone committed a wrong against society or a particular victim, and we, as members of society or as that victim, want them punished for it. The due process of law channels our need for retribution, as human beings, in a way that benefits society. It’s how far that retribution goes, or how severe the revenge/sentence is that we see differences of opinion.In Norway, for example, the justice system is based off of Nils Christie’s ideals of a peaceful, rehabilitation-focused model. Under this model, the right of criminals to have a second chance and re-integrate back into society is protected, while at the same time stopping them from reoffending. The problem comes when a major crime like the Norwegian massacre is committed. As addressed by Mr. Christie in the interview, Brevik could possibly be out on the streets again in 21 years (the judge, in this case, will most likely add more years to the sentence). But, is Brevik truly getting the right punishment for his crimes? Will Norwegian society that it is getting its fair compensation for the 77 deaths it suffered? Really, is there anything that can be done to this man that truly pays his dues to society? But, again as pointed out in the interview, the Norwegian parliament cannot pass a new law just because of one incident.On the flip side of the coin, however, consider how the Patriot Act was passed soon after 9/11. Now, people are detained for merely looking Islamic. The same goes for mandatory minimum sentences. Around February 10th, an Ontario judge refused to sentence a man to 3 years in prison for a gun offense, as dictated by law, for the simple reason that he did not believe that the punishment fit the crime. Society has swung the other way, and is taking out too much revenge on someone who is accused of a minor crime.Personally, I support Nils Christie’s ideals more than the “tough on crime” agenda we see happening here in Canada. If our justice system is totally concentrated on retribution and not rehabilitation far too many people would be locked up, ostracized by society, for no more than a minor offense. By encouraging everyone to be a productive member of society, we are also fostering a more accepting community. By promoting tougher sentences and vigilante justice, online or otherwise, we are only drawing more lines in society and leaving out people that could be incredibly useful to our local community and economy. We need to re-evaluate the sentences that are traditionally handed out. Interestingly, jail was not actually used as a sentence until Britain in the 19th century. Before, it was only used to confine prisoners until corporal or capital punishment was administered. But times have changed again. We need to take a close, hard look at whether isolating people from society truly help them and the community as a whole. In my opinion, more resources definitely need to be allocated to restorative justice programs, such as healing circles. Of course, this begs the question of whether that is just for the victims of the crime. But, by creating fewer divides in the community and fostering relationships instead, there would be less crime in the long run. Overall, justice is something that we all need as human beings. However, we need to be smart about administering it and ensuring that it is truly fair and equal. And how do we get ‘smart on crime?’We may never know.

  3. I thought that the podcast was very interesting but also a bit confusing. The points that Nils Christie were very thought provoking. The example of the Nazi General that was hung in the concentration camp brought up questions on how to punish people who have committed such inhumane things. Is hanging him balance the scale and pay back for the millions of people that were killed? He brought up a point that even theoretically hanging and killing Anders Breivik 78 time for the amount of people he killed does not balance the scales and seems so cruel that people wouldn’t even want to think about it. The maximum prison sentence in Norway is 21 years, so theoretically Anders Breivik has the possibility of being released. How is he supposed to be punished in such a way that he pays for what he has done, and even begin to compensate or balance the scale of the chaos he has inflicted. The part that I found a bit confusing was the part of giving people with extreme views and opinions the possibility to share these thoughts with other people. I guess his argument was that it could maybe prevent them from having these psychotic outbursts. But I find this very controversial and potentially dangerous. The points of building stronger communities and neighborhoods and making children go to children in their area makes sense. But creating an outlet for people with radical ideas to share and vent kind of confuses and worries me.

  4. I found it interesting that Nils Christie suggested that Norway did not want revenge. It did not want a "Bush-esque" revenge. He spoke about common meetings with 200 000 people and that the vibe was that "we shouldn't meet hate with hate." Norwegians listened to the Prime Minister and the King and the victims and everyone looked at what good they could do for positive change. Christie said it was "beautiful."More to come…MH

  5. At the 20 minute mark, Nils Christie asks a great question: "What sort of punishment do you give a man like this?" He goes on to explain his perspective on criminology….

  6. Norway is known as a very peaceful country, the maximum punishment in Norway is 21 years in jail. This killer slaughtered 77 people in one day, he was only sentenced to 21 years in jail, so most people think his punishment should be more than that. From the prospective of law, law is the most firm rules of society , it doesn’t change for one case, though this is an extreme case. So, from the point of view of law, a 21 years’ imprisonment is reasonable, and it is all the court can give. But that doesn’t mean this killer will safe ever after and walk away after 21 years. Actually, now for him the jail is his best protection (as long as other inmates don’t hurt him) This guy killed so many people, caused a lot of public anger, from the point of view of morality and victims’ relatives, and according to his attitude towards what he has done, this guy is unforgivable, many people such as the victims’ relatives could retaliate to him after he is out of jail. He probably won’t get hurt for certain, but he will live in shadow for the rest of his life. This is something the law can’t either give him or ban.

  7. What is Justice, well it is defined as just behavior or treatment. Or the quality of being fair and reasonable. It is a concept of morals. You have to take in account 5 factors. Ethics, rationality, law and natural law, religion and equality. So lets break this situation down. Ethics, this involves concepts of right and wrong behavior. Obviously what he did was wrong, but how wrong was it. He killed 8 people in the explosion, injuring 92. Then he went on to gun down 69 people on an island. Which he gained into access to by impersonation a cop. It was described as the worst thing since the second world war. Rationality, did he have a good reason for doing this. Hell NO! No one has good reason for killing 77 people. By doing this he broke many laws. So the punishment or the justification for punishment is not looking so good so far. According to google Anders Behring Breivik religion is Christian. And then equality, the opposing factor to the rest, should his heavy crime be responded with heavy punishment or should he be treated equal as an ordinary criminal. That did an extra ordinary crime. In my "professional" opinion I would have given him life in prison instead of the 21 years given. But he would also have to attend a daily physiologist to attempt to make him realize the horror he caused. – Ian S

  8. Personally I feel as if justice has not been served in this situation. Justice is the quality of being fair and reasonable. As we all know, rules are rules, and the rule (maximum penalty) in Norway is 21 years for murder. Justice wasnt served here because this is not a reasonable sentence for this man. Killing governemnt officals, killing 70+ children. Doing it for no reason at all? There is obviously soemthign very wrong with this man, and they feel that he only needs 21 years in prison to get rehabbed? I think this man can't be rehabilitated. Killy that many people, in that sort of fashion is out of this world, those ideas, are ideas of a sick man. We are giving this "sick man" and oppurtunity to come back into society, I dont believe this is appropriate. I think justice would be served if he is sentenced to life improsement with extreme amount of physchology. Not onlywill this get the man out of society, but I'm assuming he doesnt want help, so this will be his punishment, along with beign in jail. BOOM.

  9. The whole concept of justice is that people get what they deserve based on their actions. Those who break the law should be punished by the law and those who follow it should be protected by it. If there is a severe violation of the law, then the punishment should be more severe. But what happens in a rare case like this, when one individual murders 77 individuals for no clear legitimate reason. Mr. Breivik was right wing extremist, and he confessed that his motive in committing these attacks was to promote his worldview. However, even though his worldview may be different from others, that still does not justify his actions of planning and executing the massacre. The issue is that since Norway, as Nils Christie put it, has not seen atrocities like this since world war 2, the Norwegian judicial system was unsure of how to deal with this case. A written law does not and indeed cannot allow for unusual circumstances like this one. Since it has already occurred, Norway needs to focus on two things. They need to focus on how to deal with cases like this one, and also how to prevent this from happening again. In order to deal with cases like these, what the Norwegian legal system should do is give more discretion to the judges. In this case, a maximum sentence of 21 years is far too lenient. A judge who knows the facts and hears the evidence is in the best position to decide what type of punishment is appropriate. Without the 21 years, maybe the judge can give a substantially. This can ensure that those who break the law will be justifiably punished. Then the next issue is preventing this from happening again. If Norway does not want something like this to occur ever again, perhaps they should reassess their society as a whole. As Nils Christie put it, Anders Breivik was considered to be one of Norway's people. So did Norway do something wrong? Is there something that makes the Norwegian people very unsatisfied? Whatever the case is, the only group that can fix it is the the Norwegian citizens and their government. If they can figure it out, then they can ensure that law abiding citizens will never have to live through such brutal events. If Norway can find a way to punish their criminals and protect the public, the they are a country which is one step closer to becoming a just society.

  10. Justice is something that is constantly being misinterpreted and misconstrued. Justice at it's core is really the idea of balancing out one'e negative actions. Justice is the idea that if one person commits a crime, than he or she deserves an equal punishment. Of course these punishments will vary depending on how bad the crime committed is.Norway's idea of justice is very opposite to the majority of other countries. Norway strongly believes that if a person commits a crime, than they deserve a chance to rehabilitate and reenter society. One of the highlights of the Norwegian justice system is how a criminal can only have a maximum sentence of 21 years. This maximum has been under a lot of criticisms lately as many Norwegians do not believe that Anders Brevik, a man who murdered 77 young children at a summer camp, deserves a second chance. The problem with the Brevik case is that the Norwegian government cannot simply change their justice system as a result of one act. This puts justice as a whole into perspective as the question of where to draw the line arises. Brevik committed a horrendous and disgusting act, is it possible for him to rehabilitate and reenter society? Is it safe for him to be among the public of Norway? I believe that Norway's justice system is forgiving and admirable. The idea of giving people a second chance to live is very human and sensical. Although, Brevik is a man that is too far gone. I believe that it is impossible to regain control of yourself after going on a murderous rampage of 77 children. Brevik should be executed for his actions, no questions ask. Some people who commit crimes are bad people, however, they are people. Brevik is simply put, a monster that is out of control and dangerous to the public.

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