Between justice and genocide

“Between justice and genocide, there is, in the long run, no middle ground.”  / Lois McMaster Bujold, Brothers in Arms

content warning: injustice, abuse, othering, sterilization, genocide

Case in point:  this lovely Supreme Court ruling and bit of American history nobody seems to remember.

There is either justice (treating a group of people as equals with ourselves, actively treating them with all due rights and respect as we ourselves would claim), or a tendency to treat a group of people as “others”, as less-than, as not-equal, not-human, not-deserving of anything from us, until they are not deserving of their own way of life or even of life at all (genocide).

It is a very slippery slope.

If not justice, then destruction.  Again, make no mistake: either we seek justice for a group of people, or we seek their destruction, and destruction can be brought about by many different means.

Microaggressions are still aggressions.  Small injustices are still injustices.  They all come from the same othering, lessening, damning intent, and are no more innocent than burning a cross in someone’s front yard in the middle of the night.  A thousand tiny needles cut a person to ribbons as mortally as a broadsword.  A million casual, absent-minded blows, a million ignored calls for help, kill as effectively as an engineered and determined campaign.

Microaggressions are only smoothed over when aggression is felt to be applicable, justifiable, when it is implicitly condoned.  Escalation of that aggression is also, inherently, and in advance, condoned.  Any excuse will serve, but no excuse is necessary at all.  The judgement is already decided; justice has already been withheld, redefined in exclusionary terms-  justice is only for “us”, not “them”.  We defend our own, and destroy all others.

We spend a lot of energy denying this, on both sides of the many us/them divides.

3 thoughts on “Between justice and genocide

  1. ” Mentally ill people die because of attitudes like yours.

    They die because they stop believing in their ability to recover in a society that tells them they can’t. They die because the stigma around their illness – stigma that was rampant in your essay – prevents them from seeking out help or accessing treatment. They die because their support systems abandon them. They die because law enforcement ends their lives.

    We are the victims of violence and trauma because we encounter people every day who see us as less than human – people like you, who believe that being crazy is an invitation for tragic mistreatment and even death.”


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