How Juries Function as a Scapegoat Mechanism
My recent essay‘s size constraints didn’t permit me to elaborate on this but I do have a nuanced view of the jury system theory. I see it as a Christian revelation-influenced move away from private vendetta parties and mob violence. I recognize the English law system’s principles of habeas corpus, presumption of innocence, etc as Christian revelation-influenced protections of the individual person against the collective that are very good.
However, in practice, the jury system still functions within a kind of already, not yet space. Already leavened by Christian personhood-affirming structures of law but not yet completely shed of its sacrificial origins in archaic religion. Nonviolent persons I define as people charged with crimes without victims, meaning when the police wrote the report they put the “People of the State of ___” because there really is no injured party to redress grievances. I argue that for a community to send deadly agents to enforce a victimless crime law, no matter what it is, is an act of scapegoating. I believe the scapegoat mechanism is continued in the act of putting said person in a cage with actual violent persons in which assault is commonplace and escape is impossible. The scapegoat mechanism begins with the performative lie of the collective’s agents being sent with the option of deadly force to confront something that no sane person would have moral right to use deadly force as an individual: broken tail lights, late child support payments, drug possession, consensual adult prostitution, unlicensed hair salon, etc, etc. The lie is performed by the community by their treatment of the person as if they are violent when in fact they are not. The idea of placing someone in a cage is a performative lie (embodied communication and false witness through collective action). The person is cast outside the camp, other-ized, counted among the violent and dangerous, and dehumanized. – David Gornoski
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