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Justice For All

Atheists have our own ideas about what is just and what is unjust.  This group will explore the elusive concept of justice.  Topics include racial injustice, death penalty, imprisonment, crime, and other aspects of justice in modern society and in history.  Without gods, what is the basis for justice?  What do humanists and others say about justice?  What do you think about current controversies and cases regarding justice or injustice?

Members: 43
Latest Activity: Mar 11


Troy Davis's photo was chosen as this original icon for this group.  Davis symbolized inequality of justice in the US.  At the time of his execution, 9/21/11, the evidence supporting his conviction was flimsy.  There was known evidence supporting his innocence.  He was executed anyway. Since then the icon is changed to represent justice in general.


There are different nontheist points of view about justice, punishment, penalties, death penalty.   There is strong support for retribution and execution in the theist community (in the US).


What serves as "justice" is not distributed evenly across communities.  The most egregious injustice has strong racial overtones.  If you would like to read about, and discuss justice, what it is, who gets justice, and who doesn't, and stories relevant to this topic, please join and contribute to the discussions.


Resources  factsheet.  main page  executed possibly innocent

amnestyUSA death penalty information

death row population (CNN)  sept 2011.

innocence project.  The innocent and the death penalty.

innocence project Wikipedia discussion

California innocence project

Chicago innocence project

Georgia innocence project


Discussion Forum

On Burying the Torture Report

Started by Bertold Brautigan. Last reply by Daniel W Dec 9, 2014. 3 Replies

Black Panic

Started by Daniel W. Last reply by k.h. ky Sep 4, 2014. 7 Replies

Environmental Activist Hit Lists

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Grinning Cat Jun 30, 2014. 2 Replies

Harsher sentences increase crime

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Luara Jun 27, 2014. 4 Replies

Debtors Prison in the US

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Ruth Anthony-Gardner Jun 12, 2014. 4 Replies

Coal Ash contaminated water jail coverup

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner May 26, 2014. 0 Replies

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Comment by Daniel W on August 10, 2014 at 11:37am

It's really weird.  Many if not most suburbs and often, cities, have neighborhood homeowner associations what can tell you what to plant in your yard, how often you need to mow your lawn, what color to paint your house.  In the town where I grew up, I saw a new neighborhood that mandated professional landscaping.  But you can't have a gun free zone.

Comment by The Flying Atheist on August 10, 2014 at 10:58am

Joan, you are absolutely correct.  We have a proliferation of guns that will ultimately only lead to more gun deaths.  Unfortunately at this point in time, there's not much we can do to reduce the number of guns already in personal possession.  There are people and groups in this country that have alarming stockpiles of weapons and there is no way to get them back.  That Genie is out of the bottle.  That horse is out of the barn.  That ship has sailed.

I just read an article the other day on the Daily Kos (sorry, don't have the link) that said law enforcement agencies now consider extremest sovereign government and militia groups here in the U.S. to be the number one biggest threat to our national safety and security, now ahead of Islamic terrorism.  That's a very scary notion to me but not unsurprising.  I think it's important that people finally start to view the Clive Bundy type of person as a legitimate threat and not simply a proud American patriot to be revered.     

Regarding those who do carry guns, I think it's important to make a distinction between the types of people who do so.  There are those who carry guns as protection for a legitimate reason, such as lawyers or abortion doctors.  They are often specifically targeted by angry, dangerous individuals.

Another group is the open carry crowd.  They have the disturbing need to parade their weapons openly for no purpose other than to say, "Don't fuck with me.  Look what I have."  These people mostly are not in any real danger from anyone but still feel prompted to not only carry a gun but to garishly put it on display.  There's something really wrong with this mindset.  A perfect example is the doctor who recently went to the Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix specifically with his gun openly on display to get his morning coffee. 

I commend you for the past work you've done within the prison population.  I'm sure it was eye-opening, disturbing and rewarding all at the same time. 

Comment by Daniel W on August 10, 2014 at 10:39am

Joan, I think if people are going to carry guns, then we need more metal detectors around schools, clinics, hospitals, courthouses, stores, restaurants.   I don't see how any proliferation of guns makes for a safer world.  The USA must be the gun capital of the Western World, and has the most violence.  Cause/effect chicken/egg.

We already have security guards in some places - banks, schools, clinics. 

There was a recent report of a psychiatrist shooting a patient after the patient killed a social worker - that is one example out of millions.  I deal with angry, upset, frustrated, resentful people every day.  Often many per day.  Male and female.  For what is'nt worth, almost all of those are white.  Often they scream at me.  Often it's about narcotics, or demanding prescriptions for other addictive and dangerous drugs, even when it does not appear to me, beneficial or appropriate.  Sometimes they are angry because their insurance does not cover referral to chiropractors or naturopaths, and they really, really, really want that.  Again, I have no control over it, but I am their point of contact and they are often told, falsely, it is my choice.  If they have guns, am I supposed to be ready to shoot them?  I am in a room with them that is about 10 by 10 feet, sometimes with my back to the patient when I wash my hands or document on computer.  Often, the patient is between the doorway and me.  I have no control or influence into the room layout.  And, my entire purpose is to help people.  Am I supposed to carry a gun to do that?

Ironically, when I was doing residency in Chicago, between Cabrini Green and Taylor Family Homes highrises, areas infamous for gun violence and high murder rate, and where I was sometimes the only white person in sight, I never felt unsafe, and I felt like I made a difference.  I might just be backwards.

Comment by Joan Denoo on August 10, 2014 at 8:45am

Proliferation of guns can only mean more deaths by guns. I agree, those who carry guns tend to be thugs by nature. However, I wonder if one would count the abortion doctors who carry guns as thugs; some would, I would not. Or the layers and judges who carry guns? Maybe doctors, lawyers and judges who carry guns have a different personality profile than those who do not. 

Working in prisons, I talked with inmates about the thinking they did that resulted in their convictions. So many of them carried the tough guy persona, especially when with other prisoners. Privately, they often talked of their angers; ultimately they talked about their fears.

As a society, we don't need all these weapons, we need education to develop individual potential, not education to develop nut and bolt makers. We need a system of justice that keeps an eye focused on what is just, not who wants to win while others lose. We need jobs that pay living wages, we need solid social support systems. We need everything that the current political climate does not calls for. 

You and I can't change the world so we have to figure out how to flourish in a corrupt, hedonistic, win/lose mentality, consumer oriented, fossil fuel and water using, have-and-have-nots world. How do we do that? I don't know. I can guess. 

All of those who seek to sort out fact from fiction, who know and seek to know how to think critically, who have a moral core far superior and enlightened values than the faux-morality of religion, who have a compass to create a world of justice and peace have a chance to change the world. It won't happen by using force, or by manipulating people. It will happen when and if such ideas flourish. 

Comment by Daniel W on August 9, 2014 at 5:28pm

Unfortunately, people carrying guns everywhere will make the vulnerable, more vulnerable.   I don't know much about Tupac, but his words there make sense in some ways.  I doubt that there have been psychological studies on gun carriers, but I bet they fit more into a bully or thug category, than the people who are feeling victimized and vulnerable.  The victims of racism are also the victims of white fear and, it appears, white gun carrying.  Recalling Trayvon,and  the 19 year old black woman who was murdered by a man on his porch, where she was seeking help, at least 26 children or teens in florida whose deaths are attributed to stand your ground.  I don't know the races of those kids in florida so can't include that, but the violence of the gun culture is still there.

I think we need is to cut back on the number of guns.

A couple of weeks ago another facility like mine had a gun incident.  Now they have special code announcements - like hospitals with code blue for someone not breathing, code red for heart attack, etc, there is code silver, for a gun incident. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on August 9, 2014 at 5:07pm

"I have been threatened a number of times and physically attacked a few times.  If people could carry guns there....  holy jesus, that's frightening."

~ Sentient Biped

I know men and women are vulnerable to thuggery, defenseless when faced with violence. With current cultural trends as they are, with little hope for some, Tupac, before he was murdered, defined thugs from his perspective: "a thug is someone who is going through struggles, has gone through struggles, and continues to live day by day with nothing for them". Even people who live in gated communities, with private police force, and access to legal protections, are not safe. 

The cost to our society is high and not improving. That is why the struggle for access to education and jobs is so very vital.  

Comment by The Flying Atheist on August 9, 2014 at 1:00pm

I really do get frustrated at the schizophrenic nature of the general public.  It's quite scary.  I sometimes wonder, as I personally try to make the world a better place, if I am in the minority. 

Comment by Grinning Cat on August 9, 2014 at 12:55pm

Thanks for sharing that... that result sounds disturbingly counterintuitive! (Evidence of extreme racial disparity triggering a fear of crime [at the hands of the "other"?], rather than outrage over injustice)

Comment by Daniel W on August 9, 2014 at 12:36pm

White oeople support harsher criminal penalties if they think more black people are arrested.


In a way kind of fits the theme of today's report. 

"A recent study suggests that, if you are white, and you are presented with evidence that our criminal justice system disproportionately targets black people, then you are more likely to support harsh criminal justice policies than if you were unaware of this evidence. According to a study by Rebecca Hetey, a post-doctoral fellow in Stanford’s Psychology department and Jennifer Eberhardt, her faculty advisor, informing white people that African Americans are significantly over-represented in the prison population “may actually bolster support for the very policies that perpetuate the inequality.”

Bottom line - and this could include non-judicial execution by fear-based "self defense" in walmart -

"exposure to extreme racial disparities may make the public less, and not more, responsive to attempts to lessen the severity of policies that help maintain those disparities"

Carl, you are right.  And there is no way i want to be at Olive Garden with people carrying guns.  Or anywhere else.  My workplace is a "no weapon" environment.  I have been threatened a number of times and physically attacked a few times.  If people could carry guns there....  holy jesus, that's frightening.

Comment by Joan Denoo on August 9, 2014 at 12:26pm

Carl, Oh! my goodness! what a dreadful thought! A war sure to happen. 

I wonder if there are any counter-measures one can take? Maybe a celebration of community, or an expression of gratitude for the firefighters that battle all these blazes, or a thank goodness for science and the positive changes that evolved from it.


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