The recent threads about the treatment of the militia occupiers up in Oregon go me thinking about this. Many people have contrasted the government treatment of these guys to the treatment of BLM protesters. The difference feels wrong. ISTM that lot of the calls for going in guns blazing come from this feeling wrongness.
This got me thinking about why it feels wrong. I think on primal level, humans want fairness. If one kid gets to watch TV for an hour, they should all get to. But for stable and free societies fairness alone is not good enough. We need justice. Justice should be fair, but fairness is not always just.
For example, take sentencing guidelines for cocaine. Crack cocaine sentences are significantly higher than powder cocaine sentences. This is known to be based on racism and classism and not on disparate impact of the drugs involved. We have a situation which is unjust and unfair in that two people committing the same crime have vastly different mandatory minimums based untrue premises and prejudice.
There are two ways to make this fair, but only one way to make it just. You could raise the minimum sentencing for powder cocaine to match crack cocaine or lower the lower the minimum for crack to match powder. Both changes would be fair. But only the first would be just.
Similarly, storming the nature refuge in Oregon with tear gas and no concern for safety would seem fair. But, justice would seem to lie with changing the way that the BLM and other racial justice protesters are treated instead.
But justice is hard. Fairness is simple. I got treated poorly, so everyone should be treated just as poorly. It is also easier to see the downside if you are the one in better position. A lot of the push back against progress causes such as racial and religious equality is tinged with this thinking. From Reconstruction to Obama, there was fear that whites would be mistreated by blacks to make up for past offences.
So, all that out of the way, what do you think? Am I crazy? Do we have to look past our desire for fairness to find justice? Is that instinctual drive to make things fair actually holding back progress?