ONE OF THE principal issues in the recent elections was that of law and order — or should we say the lack of it? The candidates all denounced violence with statements to the effect, "the irresponsible element in our society must learn that we will not tolerate violence any longer." The audience then, all in favor of such a platform, would give vigorous approving applause — then be silenced. The speaker would go on to some other issue.
And that seems to be as far as it goes.
There are those who are blowing up our public buildings, besieging our police stations, burning banks, willfully plotting and killing police officers, proliferating the knowledge of how to make homemade bombs and other weapons, offering men from this country to fight on the side of the North Vietnamese against the American troops, not to mention those openly advocating the destruction of this nation.
As this lawless element grows in power and audacity, in a fearless affront to every element of law enforcement, all we continue to hear is the same effete speeches that "they had better stop it."
But let's consider the question of "why should they?" Put yourself in their position. Consider yourself — for a moment — to be an anarchist, firmly dedicated to destroying this present government and society.
Now then, you answer the question, why should you quit? You have a goal to accomplish. You tell the country openly what it is. You sincerely believe in it. You take violent measures of arson, murder and that which is close to all-out war to bring it to pass. Then when you do someone tells you, "You had better stop it."
Now again I ask, "Why would you?" The answer is obvious that you would not. You have no motive, no reason to stop. You would have to be stopped, and mere words of cajoling or threats would not be enough. And herein lies the heart of the problem — the failure to get to the truth of the matter and bring the guilty party to justice.
This nation has forgotten what truth and justice are in respect to criminal matters. We have come to accept half-truths as satisfactory. We have adopted a perverted definition of justice. We have come to reverence a meaning of justice and a means of ascertaining the truth that are absolutely impractical.
The result of our folly in criminal cases is that the rights of the accused are shrouded in sanctity — to the absolute detriment of the innocent men, women and children who were their victims. We have come to the place in society where, as an everyday matter of life, we bury the victim under the sod and the guilty party's wrongdoing under legal linguistics.
From the inception of this country, it was deemed just that if a person were guilty of a crime he was punished. As a result, that particular element bent on destruction was either deterred or removed from society, and those remaining saw the penalty inflicted and were fearful of following the same course. Hence relative peace and calm prevailed.
But today' in our "modern" concept of justice, we no longer seem particularly concerned whether or not the accused person in fact did commit the crime. Whether or not the person actually did the wrong is totally obscured with hypertechnical procedural questions. The trial then becomes not one of guilt or innocence. It is not based upon the question of whether or not the man committed the wrong, but largely based upon the question of "Are we proving him to be the guilty party according to a formal set of procedural rules?"
The conclusion being, that if we don't prove that the person actually committed the wrong in strict accordance with these arbitrary rules of formality, the accused person is acquitted. Perhaps absolutely free to walk the streets again and commit the same wrong, even though he is in fact guilty of the crime with which he was charged.
This simply is not Godly justice and we are reaping the penalty. The penalty that comes from either the guilty going free, receiving a penalty totally inappropriate to the crime, or justice so long delayed that the penalty is not logically related to the crime. Hence, the lawless only hear of the profit of crime, because the possibility of punishment is minimal, and there is not the deterring fear to disobey that comes from seeing justice enforced.
One example of reliance on a ritualistic rule lies in the Supreme Court case of Miranda vs. State of Arizona, 384 U. S. 436 (1966). This case required in part that in order for a voluntary confession of an accused to be admissible into evidence against him it was necessary that the law-enforcement officer first advise him: (1) That anything he says could be used against him, (2) that he has a right to remain silent, and (3) that he has a right to representation by an attorney. And that if he cannot afford one, one would be furnished without charge.
If the rule of the Miranda case is followed, the confession of the guilty party, although voluntarily given without promise of favor, threat or physical violence, although admitting in minute detail a heinous crime, cannot be used in court as evidence of his guilt.
Now we recognize the reason for these stipulations — to protect the individual. Nonetheless, as a result of the Miranda case men have been convicted by a jury that heard all the evidence, but the conviction was reversed and the accused acquitted of the crime. Why? Because the law-enforcement officer didn't advise the accused of his "rights." The law-enforcement officer didn't use the magic words. Hence, the absolute truth of the matter was suppressed, the accused acquitted, justice thwarted and society left open to the same attack that the unfortunate victim had experienced.
Truly it applies to the criminal justice in this nation what God inspired to be written in Isaiah 59:4, 8-15: "None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies, they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. The way of peace they know not, and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace. Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men... And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment."