Invisible Punishment: Hell as Social Control

FireHell has been on my mind. I recently dug up a list of all the places in the Gospels where Jesus talks about hell (there are quite a few), so hell is all up in my face right now. It’s one of the religious beliefs that I find most disturbing and most profoundly fucked-up — and I want to talk about why.

Part of it, of course, is that there’s no evidence for it. But that’s true for a lot of religious beliefs — arguably all of them — and not all religious beliefs anger me nearly as much as hell does. (The evidence problem is, however, a problem I’ll be coming back to.)

JusticePart of it is that it’s missing the entire point of punishment and justice. For me, the point of punishment is either to change people’s behavior — to show them that bad actions have bad consequences, and thus to teach them not to do it again — or to provide an example, to demonstrate to others than bad actions have bad consequences, and thus to teach them not to do it.

Hell completely fails on both counts. The permanence and eternity of it means that it utterly fails as a teaching tool. It’s not like you’re going to learn from your mistakes — the whole idea of hell is that, if you haven’t learned your lesson by the day of your death or Judgment Day, you don’t get any more chances. It’s like punishing a child by sending them to sit in the corner… for the rest of their life.

And as far as hell being an example for others… well, here’s where we come back to the fact that there’s no evidence for it. It’s not like the souls being burned and tortured in hell for eternity are on display for the rest of us to see, so we can go, “Oh. Got it. That’s what happens when you steal from your neighbor and cheat on your wife. Important safety tip. Thanks.” All we have is the word of some ancient texts, Jerry Falwell, and the guy screaming at us from the Powell Street cable car turnaround.

So it’s a truly lousy form of punishment. It takes all the good stuff out of the concept of justice, and turns it into pure revenge, simply for revenge’s sake. Simply because it makes people feel good to believe that bad people are being punished.

WaterboardingAnd then there’s the problem of how wildly disproportionate hell is; how it’s what Ebon Musings calls “infinite punishment for finite sins.” There is no math in the world that makes infinite torture a proportionate response to anything that any human might do on Earth. To punish even crimes like mass murder with burning and torture for infinitely longer than a billion years… it’s like punishing a parking violation with waterboarding.

But none of that is my biggest problem with hell.

My biggest problem with the idea of hell is that it’s such a powerful, insidious form of social control.

Here’s what the concept of hell does. It tells people, “If you behave in bad ways, if you disobey (God in theory, religious texts and teachers in practice), the consequences will be bad — extraordinarily bad, much more bad than anything you’ve seen or can even imagine. No, we can’t give you any evidence that this terrible bad consequence will happen — but take our word for it, you don’t want it to happen. In fact, even questioning its existence and asking for evidence of it is one of the most disobedient bad things you can do, and will get you sent there for sure.”

StoveNow. Think about how learning, and the idea of consequences, works in an ordinary non-hell-based context. In everyday life, if you’re reasonably sane and don’t have a personality disorder, you learn about what to do and what not to do by experiencing consequences or seeing them happen to others. Touching a hot stove burns you; hitting people gets them mad at you; drinking too much makes you hungover; saying cruel things to people you love makes you feel sick and sad; etc.

We also learn from one another, of course — our parents or friends say, “Don’t drink milk past the expiration date,” or, “For the love of God, do not see ‘Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo,'” and much of the time we’ll just take their word for it. But at least we have the option of verifying their statements. We can see for ourselves that when our parents and teachers told us marijuana would lead straight to heroin, they were talking out of their asses, and we can see for ourselves what the consequences of smoking pot are and make a decision about whether it’s okay.

Hell doesn’t work that way. Because hell is invisible, people have no way of deciding for themselves whether it’s real… and because hell is such a grotesquely appalling consequence, people will do anything to avoid it.

Therefore. If you can convince people that hell is real and that you are an authority on its existence and what they have to do to avoid it… you can make them do ANYTHING.

Anything at all.

Joan_of_arc_burning_at_stakeYou can get them to give you money. You can get them to go out and convert more followers for you. You can get them to suck your cock. You can get them to turn against their children. You can get them to vote for your friends. You can get them to go to war against your enemies. You can get them to torture, to kill, to tie people to stakes and set them on fire, to blow themselves up in crowded places, to commit mass murder, to commit mass suicide. And of course, you can get them to never ask questions about you, or whether what you’re saying and doing is right, or whether this hell place even exists.

Anything. The combination of hell’s invisibility and the extremity of its horror makes it a singularly effective form of manipulation and social control. It’s a terrifying consequence that people will avoid at all costs… and they have no way to look at the world around them and ask, “Hey, is that really true?” Then when you add the “doubting hell’s existence will get you sent there” meme, it makes it even more powerful by making it self-perpetuating. And all of this is especially powerful, and especially troubling, when it’s directed at children… whose brains are, as Richard Dawkins points out, built, for very good evolutionary reasons, to believe what adults tell them.

Part of me gets it. It is awful to think of wicked people thriving, living their lives out in comfort and never suffering the consequences of their badness. I hate that Ken Lay died of a heart attack before he could rot in prison. Part of me wishes I believed in hell, so I could believe he was there.

BiblefireBut the idea of hell is an evil, hateful idea, and it’s not one I want in my world. It exists for one reason and one reason only: to scare people into doing what you tell them, to squelch questioning and dissent. It takes people’s innate fears — and maybe worse, their ability to trust and learn from one another — and manipulates them to create obedience. It is an idea that has nothing but contempt for people’s autonomy. It is an idea that has nothing but contempt for people, period. It is social control, pure and simple. It is completely at odds with the idea of a compassionate, loving God. And any religion that has it as a central theme has a tremendous amount to answer for.

One In Seven: Why Civil Unions Aren’t Enough

AisleThere are plenty of reasons why civil unions really aren’t equal to marriage — even if the rights and responsibilities spelled out in a state’s civil union law are identical to marriage in every way.

There are legal reasons why they’re not equal — marriage is recognized in every state and indeed every country, while civil unions aren’t; so the rights and responsibilities don’t necessarily travel with you when you leave the state that granted them. There are emotional reasons — marriage is an institution/ ritual/ relationship that has existed for thousands of years, one that has tremendous resonance in our culture in a way that civil unions simply don’t. And there are moral reasons — as history has born out, separate but equal is pretty much by definition not equal.

But if none of those convince you, here’s a really good practical one.

JusticeAs of right now, five months after New Jersey’s Civil Union Law took effect, at least 1 out of every 7 civil-union couples in New Jersey are not getting their civil unions recognized by their employers.

1 out of 7. 14 percent.

If 14 percent of married couples in New Jersey were being denied full, legally-guaranteed marriage benefits by their employers, there’d be outraged stories on every news source in the region, and quite possibly rioting in the streets.

Gsehead2And actually, it’s probably more than 1 out of 7. The 1 out of 7 figure comes from 191 complaints reported to Garden State Equality (out of 1,359 civil-union couples) — and chances are excellent that not everyone who’s having problems is reporting it. And before you ask — no it’s not just one big bad company that’s skewing the results. According to Garden State Equality, the 191 cases involve close to 191 companies.

So civil unions aren’t just legally unequal to marriage; they’re not just emotionally unequal; they’re not even just morally unequal. They’re unequal in the most literal, practical sense of the word. Even in the state where the civil union is the law, people in civil unions are not being treated the same by their employers as people who are married.

HendricksleboeufI get that civil unions are a big step forward. There are times when I’m astonished by the fact that “well, same-sex marriage is out, but civil unions would be okay” has become the moderate position on the issue, maybe even the moderate- to- conservative position. I get that they’re better than nothing — heck, 6 out of 7 civil-union couples in New Jersey are getting their benefits, and that’s not trivial. And I get that, the Supreme Court being what it is right now, it may not be the best strategy to put same-sex marriage to a test on the national level until we get some new faces on the bench.

VowsI’m just saying: It’s not the same. It’s not enough. And I am disinclined to pretend that it is. This fight will not be over in this country until same-sex marriage is legal and fully- recognized in all 50 states. You can put nice cushions in the back of the bus — but it’s still the back of the bus.

(Thanks to Good As You for putting the press release on their site.)

The True Faith: Liberal and Conservative Christianity

Jerry_falwell_2There’s an area where most liberal/ progressive Christians and I would seem to be in agreement. And that’s about how screwed up it is for the Christian Right to spin their version of Christianity as the one true version of the faith.

When the Christian Right talks about Christianity as if their practice of it (bigoted, theocratic, intolerant, sex-phobic, hateful to women, hateful to queers, hateful to anyone who isn’t them, yada yada yada) is THE Christianity, the only Christianity, the Christianity that counts… well, the liberal and progressive Christians I know get almost as mad about it as I do. Maybe even madder.

But here’s the thing:

Liberal Christians do exactly the same thing.

And it bugs me almost as much.

Jesus_healing_the_sickI can’t count the number of times liberal/ progressive Christians have said things like, “All that hate and hellfire talk — that’s not Christian. That’s not the true message of Jesus. The true message of Jesus is love and compassion and tolerance. What the Christian Right is doing and saying — that’s not true Christianity.”

And you know what?

They’re just as full of it as the Christian Right.

Quakers_support_gay_marriageI mean, obviously I agree with them about the actual issues. I agree that their view of the “true” message of Christ is a better one. By several orders of magnitude.

I just don’t think it’s a more Christian one.

And I don’t think there’s any basis for saying that it is.

BiblefireThe Christian Left doesn’t have anything more to back up their claim of being the true faith than the Christian Right does. Sure, they can quote chapter and verse — but the Christian Right can quote chapter and verse, too. It’s not like it’s hard to find messages of hellfire and judgment in the Bible, or even in the New Testament, or even in the Gospels. When I was debating a liberal Christian over a similar issue, I did a quick flip through the Bible, and in just the first half of the first book of the four Gospels, I found six separate references to wrath, the hell of fire, the destruction of hell, and judgment day. Four of them in Jesus’s own words. It took me about ten minutes to find it. It’s plentiful, and it’s front and center. The Christian Right has every bit as much Scriptural support for their hellfire-and-judgment version of Christianity as the Christian Left has for their love-and-tolerance version. Sure, they cherry-pick the parts of Scripture that support their vision and ignore the parts that don’t… but isn’t that exactly what progressive Christians do when they ignore the wrath and damnation stuff?

Cherries_1Now, obviously I’m not saying that progressive Christians shouldn’t set aside the judgment-and-damnation stuff. The judgment-and-damnation stuff is beyond fucked up — it’s essentially a form of mind control that exists to squelch questioning and dissent — and it deserves to be set aside. And to be fair, most progressive Christians acknowledge that they’re cherry-picking. They’re not pretending to take every word of the Bible as literal truth while ignoring the parts they don’t agree with, the way the fundamentalists do. And that’s not an insignificant difference.

HeartBut when you ask progressive Christians why they believe their version of Christianity is the true one, the one Jesus wants us to have, when it comes right down to it all they can say is, “I feel it in my heart,” or, “That’s just what I believe.” They can quote chapter and verse to back up their ideas about what Jesus wants from them, and they can point to what does and doesn’t work in the world to back up their ideas about… well, about what does and doesn’t work in the world. But like all religion, their belief that they’re doing what God wants them to do ultimately comes down to the conviction of faith.

Jesus_fish_eating_darwin_fishThe problem with that, of course, is that the Christian Right is every bit as convinced that their version of Christianity is the true one. Their faith in a hostile, bigoted, pissily judgmental Christ who’s obsessed with who’s fucking who and how… it’s every bit as strong as liberal Christians’ faith in a gentle, loving, forgiving Christ who just wants us to treat one another with compassion. Their conviction is every bit as powerful; they feel it in their hearts every bit as passionately. And they have every bit as much evidence — which is to say, ultimately none — to back up their claim.

FireAnd I think progressive Christians need to cop to this. When the Christian Right acts like evil theocratic bigots, it’s much too easy to respond by saying, “Well, that’s not true Christianity, is it?” Yes, it is. The Christian Right are Christians, just as much as you are. And their hellfire and judgment version of Christianity is a huge part of the reality and the history of your faith. It’s not like they’re some weird obscure sect that believes Jesus is a space alien or something — they’re probably the largest and most politically powerful religious group in this country.

CrossBy all means, say that the Christian Right is wrong. Say that their vision of the world is hateful and bigoted and out of touch with reality and not one that you share or care to. Say that their version of Christianity isn’t the only one, even. Say any of that, and I’ll happily back you and stand by you. But don’t say that they’re not true Christians. They are Christians, by any reasonable definition of the word. You don’t have the one true version of the faith any more than they do.

How Can He Just Keeping Saying That?

George_w_bushHe’s saying it again.

How can he keep saying it again?

Via Pandagon:

President Bush, defending his troop surge in Iraq, insisted Thursday that the insurgents attacking US troops in Iraq “are the same ones who attacked us on Sept. 11.”

Bush was speaking at a White House press conference on the same day an interim progress report on his troop surge in Iraq was released. Asked for proof of the connection between insurgents in Iraq and the 9/11 hijackers, Bush said both had pledged their allegiance to Osama bin Laden.

“The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq are the ones who attacked us on Sept. 11,” Bush said.

1984orwellOceania is at war with Eastasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

How can he keep saying this? Didn’t he already have to admit that this wasn’t true, that Iraq had nothing at all to do with 9/11? Isn’t that one of the basic rules of debate and public discourse — that once you admit you’re wrong about something, you don’t get to keep saying it over and over as if it were plain fact?

I mean, this is just laughably pathetic. Or it would be if it weren’t so appalling.

I hereby propose a new law, possibly even a Constitutional amendment: The President of the United States is not allowed to say, in public, things that he freakin’ knows for a fact are not true.

What This Blog Is — And What It Isn’t: A Reply

Us_magazineA recent comment on my Us Magazine “Jolie Drove!” piece took this blog to task for writing about such trivial matters, with all the terrible sexist stuff that happens to nonwhite women. I mostly didn’t agree with the comment, but it raised some interesting questions, and I want to take a moment, not only to reply to the comment, but to talk a little about what this blog is — and what it isn’t.

Hate_crimeFirst. Are my porn commentaries and my Us Magazine rant the “only” things I can say about sexism? Of course not. I’ve blogged about hate crime laws, abortion laws, the Duke rape case, body image, abstinence-only sex education, whether gender roles are learned or innate or a combination of both, and the disturbingly thin line between consensual spanking fetishism and domestic violence in the Christian domestic discipline scene. Among other things. The Us Magazine rant was only one of many posts I’ve written about sexism.

Trivialpursuit90sWas it a bit silly and trivial? Yes. Absolutely. And I’m not going to apologize for that. I write about serious things and frivolous things in this blog, and I think that’s one of the best things about it. And I sometimes find a kernel of seriousness in something utterly trivial. I think a lot of how sexism and other -isms work is in the little things that people often don’t notice, and I think it’s interesting to point them out.

Chocolate_chipsWhy did I decide to write about this particular thing? No tremendously good reason. I was stuck on a plane for an hour and a half and was reading my girlfriend’s Us Magazine over her shoulder, and it just jumped out at me. But that’s one of the things I like best about blogging — I can gas on about whatever happens to catch my attention me at the moment, and I don’t have to worry about whether a publisher or editor thinks it’s relevant. I can write about the place of religion in politics one day, porn videos the next day, the scientific method the next. How to keep artisanal bread fresh, sexual differences in relationships, hate crime laws, blasphemy, the future of the novel, grilled chocolate chip and peanut butter sandwiches, the new Harry Potter book, facing death without a belief in an afterlife, bisexuality, theocracy, blowjobs, a really annoying parking garage in my neighborhood. All of it is relevant, because all of it is relevant to my life.

Which brings me to what this blog isn’t:

New_york_timesThis blog isn’t the New York Times. I’m not pretending to be an objective source of news and commentary on subjects of general interest to everyone. This blog is an extremely subjective source of news and commentary, on subjects of specific interest to me. People are free to read it or not as they like. If anyone thinks it’s too frivolous, too serious, too lefty, not lefty enough, too focused on atheism, too focused on sex, too long-winded, whatever… well, there’s a great big blogosphere out there, full of other blogs with different focuses. (Foci?) I suppose it’s a bit arrogant of me to assume that anyone would be interested in mine. But that sort of arrogance is an inherent part of being a writer, or indeed any sort of artist — the colossally arrogant assumption that anyone in the world outside your circle of family and friends will give a flying fuck about what you say and do. All I can say is that experience seems to be bearing me out — my blog traffic isn’t huge, but it doesn’t suck either, and it’s growing.

Dr_dreNow. Why don’t I blog about sexism in gangster rap? Mostly because I don’t listen to much gangster rap. Just about none, in fact. (Remember my post about being a hopelessly out of touch 45-year-old in pop culture land?)

But perhaps more to the point, I don’t have anything to say about sexism in gangster rap that hasn’t been said a thousand times. One of my quirks with this blog is that, if I don’t have something original to say on a subject, I tend to keep my mouth shut. I don’t like being just another voice in the lefty blogosphere chorus, so if I don’t have a unique observation or twist on a topic, I usually don’t say anything at all. (With the Us Magazine post, I wasn’t just writing about how sexist it was — my twist was how bizarrely retro and outdated the sexism was.)

Jenna_loves_painWhy do I write so much about porn? Ummm… I gotta say, criticizing my blog for having so many posts about porn is a little like criticizing Pharyngula for having so many posts about creationism, or Cute Overload for having so many pictures of cute kittens. That’s what I do. I’m very interested in porn, both as a consumer and a cultural observer, and I write about it a lot. People do what we’re inspired to do, and writers write about what we’re inspired to write about. I realize this seems like circular reasoning, but I don’t write about things like Darfur because I don’t have much to say about them, other than “Oh my God, that is so awful,” which isn’t very interesting. I do have a lot to say about porn — and so I say it.

And now we come to the part of this critique that I think has some real validity:

Why don’t I write more about race and class?

Barack_obama_1In my own defense, I do write about it some: in my Katrina piece, my hate crimes piece, my Duke rape case piece, the comment discussion in my Barack Obama piece, a couple of other places. (I’ve also written about it in some of my porn reviews, although not in any of the ones I’ve posted here yet.) But it’s true: I don’t do it very much, and when I do, it’s often a secondary mention in a piece on some other topic.

Why is that?

I have an answer, although it’s probably not a very good one.

Wonder_bread_costumeI think that when middle-class white people open their mouths to talk about race and class, a good half of the time we wind up sounding like idiots or worse. And I don’t just mean conservatives, either. So much liberal white middle-class writing about race and class winds up sounding patronizing and clueless at best.

And I have something of an aversion to sounding like a patronizing, clueless idiot.

So when it comes to race and class, my usual inclination is to shut my mouth and listen.

BisexualityLike a lot of people, my identity-politics identities are a mish-mosh of privilege and oppression. I’m white, middle-class, college-educated, American — all of which make me pretty damned privileged. I’m female, queer, atheist, fat — all of which really don’t. And not surprisingly, I’m a lot more comfortable writing about identity politics and -isms when I’m on the short end of the privilege stick. (That’s another reason I don’t write about sexism in gangster rap, actually — I think the phenomenon of white people scolding black rappers for being sexist often falls squarely into the “patronizing and clueless” category.)

Make_levees_not_warNow, I realize that that’s something of a weak excuse. I realize that middle-class white people have an obligation to not stay silent in the face of racism and classism. And I realize that one of the things that perpetuates racism and classism is people’s discomfort with the subject, and our unwillingness to even bring them up. That’s something I can and should pay attention to. If nothing else, I can do more pointing to other people’s blogging on the subjects than I do.

GretatricornBut again, we come back to the basic fact of this blog: It isn’t the New York Times. It isn’t even the Daily Kos. It’s my very personal, very subjective view of the world and the parts of it that I feel I have something to say about. I do write about politics, and I can and should try to buck up my courage and expand my horizons and risk making an ass of myself to talk about important subjects I don’t know so much about, including race and class. But ultimately, I’m writing a personal blog from my own personal perspective And it’s always going to be written from a white, middle-class, college-educated, American perspective, in the same way that it’s always going to be written from a queer, fat, female, atheist perspective — because that’s who I am.

A Carnival and a Swarm: Theocracy and Crankiness on the 4th of July

JulytheoIt’s the 4th of July, and in my mutant form of patriotism, I’m participating in a blogswarm against theocracy and a blog carnival called This Is Not My Country.

Blogswarm Against Theocracy is pretty much what it sounds like. About a bezillion people have been blogging against theocracy in the run-up to the Fourth of July, and their posts are being collected here. I put in my silly-but serious piece on the “Buffy” spinoff “Angel” and its angry atheist view of religion and theocracy. And there’s a lot of other wonderful blogging against theocracy happening on this patriotic holiday. Check it out.

And appropriately enough, the This Is Not My Country blog carnival, dedicated to “expressions not of hatred for one’s country but of disappointment or anger at its abandoning of its values,” is now up on Hell’s Handmaiden. It’s an odd and interesting assortment of cranky, mostly lefty political writing, and they were kind enough to include my No Sex Please, We’re Democrats piece about abstinence-only sex education over on the Blowfish Blog. Happy 4th, everybody!

Christian Spanking Porn: The Blowfish Blog

(I don’t really talk about my own sex life in this piece, but it may still be too much information for family members and others with, you know, boundaries. So be advised.)

HandThis one is a doozy, folks. If you read only one piece I write this week, make it this piece.

It’s Christian Spanking Porn. One of the stranger cultural twists I’ve come across in some time. It’s got sex, religion, kink, gender politics, questions about consent… all mixed up in a fascinating, disturbing, completely bizarre stew. And I blog about it over at the Blowfish Blog. The gist of it… well, here’s the teaser.

BeltA CDD (Christian Domestic Discipline) marriage is “set up according to Biblical standards; that is, the husband is the authority in the household. The wife is submissive to her husband as is fit in the Lord and her husband loves her as himself… He has the authority to spank his wife for punishment… ” Etc.

There are, of course, websites. And this website (apparently the main one) has advice, information… and spanking fiction.

“Romances,” with spankings at the core, labeled for sale by how heavy the spankings are (“contains moderate spanking,” “moderate to slightly severe spanking,” “the spanking in this novel is very mild”).

In other words — spanking porn.

And it creeps me out.

So I’m trying to decide whether that creeped-outedness is fair.

Fascinating. Disturbing. Completely bizarre. Check it out.

Carnival of the Liberals #41

Carnival of the Liberals #41 has just gone up, and they were kind enough to include my piece on the Blowfish blog about abstinence-only sex education, No Sex Please, We’re Democrats.

This is actually something of an honor, as the Carnival of the Liberals is a fairly selective blog carnival — they only list the ten best blog posts submitted for each roundup, so I’m very pleased that my piece got included. Thanks to the World Wide Webers for including me — and if y’all want to read some seriously good liberal blogging, do check out the Carnival.

No Sex Please, We’re Democrats: The Blowfish Blog

CongressSo a a House subcommittee recently voted, not only to continue funding abstinence-only sex education, but to increase funding for it by $27.8 million.

To see me rant about this — er, analyze it and put it in context — come visit the Blowfish Blog. Here’s a taste:

Very few people — and even fewer politicians — are willing to look at teenage sex and say in public, “It turns out this really isn’t a big problem.” Very few politicians are willing to say, “We have bigger issues to worry about than 16-year-olds having sex.” Very, very, very few politicians are willing to say, “You know, I had sex when I was 16, and it didn’t do me any harm.”

Check it out. And then write your Congressperson.

Get Out of Jail Free: Paris Hilton and the Justice System

EiffeltowerCongratulations, universe.

You win.

You made me care about Paris Hilton.

Not sure if y’all have heard, but Paris Hilton was released from jail after serving three days of her sentence (probation violation in a reckless driving case), and is being allowed to serve the rest of her sentence under house arrest. The reason? An “unspecified medical problem.”

And I care.

I’m furious.

Jail1Because if you, or I, or anyone we know, were sentenced to 45 days in jail for violating probation on a reckless driving charge, you can be damn sure we’d be serving every day of our time. No goddamn medical condition would be getting us out. I’m sure new prisoners develop medical conditions all the damn time — jail is horrible and profoundly stressful — and they don’t get out in three days because they’re not feeling well. Nobody but Paris Hilton gets to call in sick from jail. There is a compassionate release program for terminally ill prisoners — but it’s unbelievably harsh. You have to be pretty much right at death’s door to qualify for it.

StopsnitchingAnd people wonder why folks are cynical and mistrustful about the legal system; why some young people are taking on “stop snitching” as an ethical standard. If anyone has any doubts at all about how broken and corrupt our justice system is, how completely 100% opposite it is to what a justice system should be, this should blast those doubts into shrapnel.

(P.S. The picture of the Eiffel Tower is there because I couldn’t stomach the thought of having that vacant rat-faced smirk on my blog.)

——————–

Addendum: She’s back on her way to jail.

Good.

I’m tempted to say “okay, maybe sometimes the system works.” Except… how many other rich influential folks are getting special treatment by the justice system in cases that aren’t as well publicized and don’t raise as much of a shitstorm? And I’m not even talking about the day-to-day injustices: the “driving/ walking/ breathing while black” arrests, the greater penalties for crack cocaine than powder, yada yada.

The fact that it took a huge public outcry to get justice served for the spoiled princess isn’t a sign that the system works. It’s a further sign of just how broken it is.