Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bow Your Head to the King

"Bow your head to the king. Not because of what he has achieved, but because of his title."

I vehemently disagree with a large number of people about the recent situation where a judge fined and jailed a teen in Florida court. To put this into perspective, I'm burning precious time during midterms and crunch time on a work project to write because I feel intense anger about what people are focused on with the issue: respect. If you aren't familiar with Penelope Soto, background information is available in a number of locations such as the following link:

First and foremost, why do a series of rude comments receive a harsher penalty and more attention than the original crime? There is no mention of any ruling against her up until that point so I can only assume the ruling was minor. So she needs to be taught a  lesson you say? So, we're not about rehabilitating then, we're about punishing and retribution? What kind of lesson do I think she was taught by this? Giving respect is more important than taking on accountability for her original crime. It raises the fundamental question, do we wish [in our legal system] to focus on  rehabilitation or more so on punishment?

I can hear it now, "Well, he's a judge, he deserves respect." Yeah, and here comes the king who says you owe him respect. Will you bow your head and avert your eyes because of his title? Or do you want to know what he has done to earn (or lose) respect? I, for one, typically offer civil behavior to others because everyone deserves to be treated as an equal. But as for giving respect, it's earned, not granted by title alone. All men and women are created equal, none above, none below. How our consciously thought out actions affect others is are what sets us apart. Neither title nor education warrants respect automatically. A doctor or a judge puts their pants on one leg at a time the same as does someone who works in the service sector for minimum wage. Education and/or job title are individual accomplishment and are not something I believe should be used to measure the value of another human being.

With that, I will ask a rhetorical question for pondering: how many people who read the story about Penelope commented enthusiastically towards the judge yet know anything about his history in context to society? Or how many know the circumstances for Penelope? I think most people stereotyped Penelope as societal trash. The media clearly wanted this impression. Forget objective reporting. Let's have the media spoon feed us what we want to hear. Yahoo! We're really showing our humanitarian side now aren't we? 

My dime store summary: a judge is present to weigh facts, provide rational decision making and interpret the law. I don't have a problem with the judge maintaining order in a court. As such, contempt is a legitimate charge and the girl does need someone to set hard boundaries – that means consequences. But as a tax payer, I don't prefer to see my tax money used to jail a person because they need to learn manners. I believe community service would function better for this teen. Lessons and boundaries can be learned many ways in life, not just through jail time or fines.

In my opinion, humanity loses a point today. Not because of the judge's actions. He was trying to do the right thing. I'm upset because the majority of people interpret the situation as a win for society because the girl "got hers". To me, I see it as "Let's ram our authority up people's a** because the issue of respect needs to be burned into the back of everyone's retinas. Mess with authority and we have the right to do whatever we feel to put you in your place. Besides, jamming things up people's a** make us feel vindicated. Hooray! We've served justice for things that weren't truly on trial. Ain't we special!" Rational translation: we are so caught up in our frustrations with the injustices we have suffered that we become petty and feel satisfaction when someone faces a consequence for their actions.

I'll take that sentiment and one up it. Don't like my opinion? Sit down and shut up or get out! That's seems to be the way we do things around here isn't it? So no problem with me taking on the same attitude is there? Forget understanding or a desire to make things better in the world. And yes, I realize I can't control how other people think. But I do have to co-exist around these opinions and that's what bothers me.