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: 41
Latest Activity: Dec 9


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. 3 Replies

Black Panic

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

Environmental Activist Hit Lists

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

Harsher sentences increase crime

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

Debtors Prison in the US

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

Coal Ash contaminated water jail coverup

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner May 26. 0 Replies

"White Guilt" by Shelby Steele

Started by Luara. Last reply by Luara May 16. 3 Replies

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Comment by Joan Denoo on August 9, 2012 at 1:56pm

Sentient Biped, I agree with you and history can verify your statement. I have been looking at religious history and its role in domination of any one who disagreed with their dogmas. I started with reading 

Missionaries or Murderers


Black Death in the Congo (King Leopold II of Belgium) 

because my grandfather came from Belgium and abuse was a part of our family heritage. 

Comment by The Flying Atheist on August 9, 2012 at 10:35am

I think execution has become a psychological way of sweeping a problem under the carpet:  execute the problem and the problem goes away.  Out of sight, out of mind.  But those of us who are rationalists know that the problem keeps coming back and will continue to come back until we finally come to terms, face to face, with the gargantuan and multifaceted social and economic reasons that are causing the problem of crime and incarceration in the first place.  Yes, that's a HUGE problem to deal with, but I'd rather tackle those issues as a society rather than take the lazy and indifferent path of locking people up.  We will always have a certain number of people who deserve to be taken out of the general population and locked up for life, but I truly believe most other current jail inmates would never begin criminal activity in the first place if we came to terms with and took care of the social and economic problems in this country.  And, yes, I think racial bigotry is a big reason as to why we, as a nation, are not addressing this issue.   

Comment by Daniel W on August 9, 2012 at 9:54am

Why do they execute?  No deterrent effect.  Retribution?  Why do the state residents support execution?  Why are the most religious states the ones with the most murders, and the most executions?

Is the same mentality is present as in the old tradition of lynching, only behind closed doors?  I can't help but believe there is a racist aspect.  Exceptions exist, sure, but I can't escape that feeling.  But there is more.

Again, I think it's the scapegoat concept, as old as human society.  Aztecs had captives for human sacrifice.  The inquisition had "witches" and Jews.  The Germans had Jews and Communists.  Today's Republicans have gays who they would like to string up but can't.  The entire concept of Jesus being executed was to wash the Roman-conquered Hebrews clean of "sin", which they were being punish for by conquest.  Somewhere in our psychology is deep need for scapegoating. 

Comment by Donald R Barbera on August 9, 2012 at 6:15am
Deterent effect? A simple look at the numbers tells the story. Economic researchers made a case for the death penalty on a cost basis that actually received some play, but it didn't take long to shoot it out of the water. Interestingly, the states with the lowest rates of church attendance and high rates of secularism have the lowest murder rates and the least executions. Don't hold me to this because I am going off the top of my head, but in the period since the death penalty was renewed Massachusetts has had four while Texas has had more than 700! Meanwhile the murder rate in Texas is one of the highest in the nation. Louisiana own the highest murder rate in the country--they also have the nation's highest rate of church attendance. You draw your own conclusion. States without the death penalty consistently have lower murder rates than those that do. Why?
Comment by Daniel W on August 8, 2012 at 6:44pm

Don, your emotions are human emotions.  Doesn't matter if it's politically correct, it's real.  Life imprisonment does seem like an almost endless punishment. 

My own argument is that death penalty cheapens life, which is the opposite of what it is supposed to do.  In some cases, it seems like it doesn't matter if we execute the person who committed the crime, as long as we execute someone.  As with Troy Davis, so what if he got a bad trial and might have been innocent - someone had to be punished.  Then there is "evidence based policy" - is execution a deterrent from crime?  Data does not suggest that.  And again, if he didn't commit the crime that he was executed for, the concept of deterrent value does seem kind of bizarre.

I truly doubt that death penalty would have deterred Marvin Wilson from committing murder, if he actually did.  Which is not clear.  If he "could not handle money or navigate a phone book, a man who sucked his thumb and could not always tell the difference between left and right" then what did he know about deterrence effect of death penalty? 

Wilson is dead now, the state of Texas killed him yesterday.  The Texas legal system did a little house cleaning, removed a little human "vermin", and got its rocks off once again.

Religion--wise, I guess that makes him like Jesus.  He died for our sins.  As even those who really are guilty, and really are not mentally disabled, also do.  By our killing them, they are our sacrificial sheep, washing our sins away with their IV.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on August 8, 2012 at 1:23pm
Religion has always been used as a measuring stick to approve what cannot rightfully be logged to morality. I don't care if religionists admit it or not, but their holy books have nothing to do with morality which is established by the community. Religion captured a few of the things that socierty didn't approve of and missed a hell of a lot because it was ancient history when it came about. Religion and the death penalty are circular in their reasoning as one justifies the other and vice versa.
Comment by Donald R Barbera on August 8, 2012 at 1:19pm
The Innocence Project works well in Texas because we have a lot to work with. I guess I'm a lot meaner than I thought. I wouldn't want them dead. I want them to suffer in prison as I would be suffering on the outside missing my loved one and suffering the ravages of time. Executed? They just got a free pass from the pain. Is that politically incorrect?
Comment by Loren Miller on August 7, 2012 at 10:16pm

It's almost undeniable, SB ... "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."  Despite all their new testament sweetness and light, that's what they want.  They want VENGEANCE ... and screw "vengeance is mine, saith the lord."  They want it for themselves.

Comment by Daniel W on August 7, 2012 at 10:12pm

Do you think there is a causative effect of religiosity vis a vis death penalty, or social justice issues like poverty, health insurance, education, wages, murders?  Fellow traveling issues, or one causing the other?  People who are more religious are more likely to accept status quo, or people who are more likely to accept status quo are more likely to be religious?  Religion is used by the "leaders" to support status quo?

Comment by Donald R Barbera on August 7, 2012 at 7:09pm

I forgot to add that in Dallas County alone there have been nearly 20 exoneration and as I said killing someone is not even a good form of revenge, but I guess its the best they can come up with that escapes "cruel and unusual" punishment. Texas only becomes more progressive when you consider the South in general which unfailingly ranks first in nearly every negative category and last in every positive one. The porrest, the most sickly, the least insured, the people over 25 without HS degrees, the least college graduates, the lowest wages, the most law officers murdered, etc. However, they have the highest rate of religion.


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