*By Kirk Spencer
After being found guilty of releasing a multitude of classified documents, and being sentenced to 35 years in prison, Bradley Manning wants to be a woman. 
A man kidnaps three women and holds them as slaves in his house for a decade. He is sentenced to “life in prison—plus a thousand years” after pleading guilty to avoid death. And then he kills himself, the first chance he gets (Maybe there is something worse than a death sentence or life in prison).
The Department of Justice (DoJ) has judged that it is not worth taking legal action on states which have legalized the “recreational” use of marijuana—which happens to be a controlled substance according to federal law. This Department of Justice thinks it is just for it to judge which laws are worthy of enforcement (such as the immigration laws).
A rodeo clown plays the jester, clowning around the arena while being chased by a large angry bull. He has done this over the years, while wearing presidential Halloween masks of all the presidents from Reagan to George W—and it is all just fun and games. Yet when this same rodeo clown plays the jester while wearing an Obama mask, he is banned from the rodeo for life; and all his fellow clowns are required to take sensitivity training; and the Department of Justice is asked to judge if this is indeed a hate crime. (Hate crimes are those crimes that deserve a harsher punishment because of what is in the criminals “heart.” Hate crimes are our first venture into really legislating morality—being punished for what we think, instead of just what we do.)
Syria has crossed President Obama’s “red line” by committing the injustice of killing over a thousand people with chemical weapons (not to mention the 100 thousand killed with non-chemical weapons). Because of this, President Obama’s “calculus” is changing and becoming very complex with many independent variables. And once we distinguish the good guy and bad guys (or the bad guys and the really bad guys), and once we have predicted all the boundary conditions, and tested international opinion, and finally settled on targets, and whenever the president and congress decide on who will be responsible for such a just act against this particular moral (and widely telecast) obscenity, then there may be an “air strike” of justice. However, amid all the second guessing and political gymnastics, I am beginning to think that “swift justice” is becoming lost amongst all the “saving of face” (and protecting of other things).
The Supreme Court has invalidated one small section of the 47 year old Voting Rights Act because, well, it’s 47 years old. Our wise Supreme Court Justices have concluded that states should be judged and penalized for their present actions and not for something that happened almost 50 years in the past. The particular states targeted in the Voting Rights Act no longer have to ask the Department of Justice for permission to alter their voting procedures. Our current Department of Justice (DoJ) has responded by suing one of these recently liberated states (Texas) and is threatening the others. Why? Because they have the audacity to conclude that a person should show picture identification when attempting to vote (the same picture ID that must be presented when attempting to buy Sudafed or cash a check). The states with Voter ID laws believe that requiring picture ID at polling places is a reasonable check against voter fraud. The Department of Justice is convinced that asking for ID is an act of voter suppression. This is the same Department of Justice (DoJ), with the same Attorney General (AG), that judged it is not voter suppression for members of the New Black Panther Party to carry clubs and shout racial slurs outside a polling place in Philadelphia.
(Intimidating and threatening potential voters at the voting box is one reason for the 1965 Voter’s Rights Legislation in the first place.) There are now results that should inform the rhetoric. States who have passed laws which require voter ID actually show an increase in participation of minority groups (I’m not sure why critics would think a minority group would be less likely to have picture IDs, but that seems to be the general conclusion). So, the preliminary results indicate that requiring voter ID does not suppress minority voting; it stimulates it.   On the other hand, in the city of Philadelphia where a New Black Panther poll “watcher” carried a club and shouted racial slurs (where the DoJ said there was no voter suppression), 59 voting districts (casting 20 thousand votes) did not cast one vote for Romney.
There have been other instances of dumb justice this summer. However, the showpiece has to be the Nidal Hasan trial. Here is a man who had contacted Al Qaeda leadership and talked of his martyrdom; a man who made increasingly extremist comments exposing his jihadist tendencies , so much so that those who worked with him called him a “ticking time-bomb.” All this was ignored, including the fact that Hasan did not meet the army’s own performance standards. Rather than capturing Nidal Hasan, he was promoted! Not only that, he was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. It appears all this was done to keep up the appearance that the United States is not engaging in ethnic and religious profiling. Accusing Hasan of being a terrorist would appear too prejudicial, so he was given prejudicial treatment (promoting him, rather than arresting him).
Hasan kills 14 and wounds 32. The Department of Justice and the White House refuse to call the attack an act of terrorism or even combat. This clear act of terrorism is classified as “workplace violence.” Such a designation has kept many of the victims (the ones who were shot) from getting full medical and disability benefits. Yet Hasan (the one who shot them) has received full medical benefits and has been paid $278,000 in salary for his “service.”
And now, even after this jihadi had practiced his jihad, “justice” has continued to give him prejudicial treatment. Army regulations require that soldiers be clean shaven. Hasan grew a beard in the four years awaiting trial (while still being paid as a soldier). The (first) judge ruled Hasan’s beard in contempt, fined him $1,000, and said he would be forcibly shaved if he did not shave it himself. Rather than comply, Hasan complained to the U.S. Court of Appeals which ruled that the “beard debacle” raised questions about the judge’s partiality. Hasan got a new judge. She was not as “partial.” She said it was against regulations, but she “would not hold it against him.”
So according to this dumb justice, to follow a code of conduct designed to bring unity among the soldiers, so as not to show partiality, is considered showing partiality? And to admit it is against regulations, and then to “not hold it against him” (meaning not enforce the regulation) is to be impartial. Now this may sound dumb, but it appears to me she is in fact showing partiality by not “holding it against him.” Hasan (the admitted mass-murderer) gets to violate regulation so that the judge does not appear prejudiced… isn’t this how it all started? Or to put it another way: Hasan’s unshaven face allows the judge to “save face” and saving face is what has cost us so many innocent lives. Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army’s Chief of Staff, illustrated this deadly (misplaced) priority perfectly when he said: “What happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy, but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty.” (By the way, when Hasan made it to Ft. Leavenworth someone finally got beyond all the saving-face and shaved Hasan’s face.)
Hasan has twice offered to plead guilty, but the justice system does not allow the judge to accept a guilty plea when the prosecution is seeking the death penalty. And now after justice has refused to defend us against Hasan for fear of appearing prejudiced, the judge has allowed Hasan to act as his own attorney. And after four years of scheduling and procedural disputes; and declining to enter any plea; and deferring the plea to unspecified dates; and the assigning, releasing and choosing of various attorneys as counsel, all to find a way to escape the death penalty—after all that—what was Hasan’s “defense?” He admits that he did it because he had “switched sides” and regarded himself as a Mujahideen waging “jihad” against the United States to protect the Taliban. (It should be noted that Hasan killed one person that was not a soldier. This person’s mother’s last words were “My baby! My baby! My baby!!!”).
After Hasan’s opening “confessional” statement—which sounded like the opening statement for the prosecution—Hasan’s lawyers concluded that he was clearly helping the prosecution to obtain death. These lawyers wanted out. The judge said “no” (I guess she was not going to “hold that against him” either). However, Hasan showed mercy to two of the three attorneys (something he did not show during his episode of “work-place violence”). He “allowed” them to leave the courtroom so that they could appeal what they considered a violation of their code-of-conduct. They said their appeal would fall under a “novel area of the law.” (That could be said for much of the dumb justice in this strange summer.) Eugene Fidell, a visiting lecturer at Yale Law School and co-founder and former president of the National Institute of Military Justice, expressed a similar sentiment: “Once you grasp the fact that Hasan is playing according to a different rulebook, it all makes sense and none of it makes sense. It’s an absurd exercise.”
Human justice is “partial” in both senses of the word: Human justice is lacking and incomplete and falls far short of wholeness. Likewise, for various reasons, it is often markedly fond and favoring of one party. Its short-comings lend a certain dumbness in terms of strangeness. But Justice is not dumb in terms of being able to speak—Justice just grinds slowly. Nidal Hasan has finally been condemned to die. And someday he may actually die for his crimes. And he will get what he wants.
Death might be the end of human judgment, but it is the beginning of God’s. Beyond our strange summers of human justice, there is a judgment to come. For we are all condemned to die, we are all on death-row, and after death comes…the judgment.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.
But, in our strangeness, we are not left without hope. For the judgment seat can become the mercy seat, for Christ has passed into heaven itself, into the presence of God. For us He has entered a more perfect court not made with human judgments. And Christ who can sympathize with our crimes, though innocent of them, as Mediator gave testimony at the proper time by giving Himself as a ransom for all through His own blood and entered the dock of our condemnation once and for us all, obtaining eternal forgiveness and redemption from the crimes we have committed. Through the washing of our filthy conscience, He has put away our crimes through His sacrifice so that we might serve the living God; even more, that we may approach the Bench of Grace and receive the promise of the eternal inheritance as Children of the Judge. It is a grace gift given freely and received through faith in the sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. And in this hope and faith we no longer have to fear death, or judgment, as we eagerly wait for Him.