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Squires: Social (media) justice requires far different standards for Kyle Rittenhouse and Julius Jones

Op-ed
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America's justice system is broken.

Our laws are still in place, but as a nation, we have no shared understanding of what "justice" is or how it should be pursued. This reality impacts every aspect of society, especially when the modifier "social" is attached to the concept of justice whenever disparities between ethnic groups are found to flow in a particular direction.

This is yet another outcome of a rapidly secularizing country that attempts to cherry-pick Bible verses about justice while discarding the God who defines it.

Biblical justice reflects God's character. It promotes and upholds good and punishes evil. Its ultimate purpose is to bring people into the right relationship with God and with one another.

Our justice system draws on those principles. Ideally, our system of laws should be an impartial, proportional mechanism for promoting moral order. It should seek to punish criminals and motivate a change in their attitude and behavior, protect the innocent, deter criminal behavior from spreading, provide restitution for victims, and apply grace and mercy without prejudice.

Achieving justice is a process, not an outcome. That process includes weighing evidence, hearing from witnesses, and deciding guilt or innocence based on the facts of the particular case.

The members of the ruling class do not want a justice system. They want a system of cultural, political, and legal spoils (e.g., presumption of innocence, celebrity backing) that can be doled out to people they like and withheld from people they don't.

The cases of Kyle Rittenhouse and Julius Jones demonstrate that clearly.

Rittenhouse has been accused of being a white supremacist without evidence since last year, and his critics ignore the video footage that clearly shows him using his gun in self-defense. The fact that he came to Kenosha and was not in favor of burning it down in the name of racial justice makes him a natural enemy of the ruling class. That is why politicians and pundits on the left, as well as a few on the right, have tried to make this case about race and the dangers of Trumpist vigilantism. They make the case about Rittenhouse's age and the type of gun he was carrying and refuse to even acknowledge the chaos and disorder that were allowed to fester in Kenosha and many other cities in 2020.

The left has a completely different attitude toward Julius Jones, the convicted murderer whose death sentence was commuted on the day he was scheduled to be executed. Celebrities including Kim Kardashian and Kerry Washington and professional athletes including Baker Mayfield and Russell Westbrook successfully lobbied Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt to spare Jones' life.

His supporters claim that he didn't have a fair trial because of racial bias, inadequate legal representation, and issues with witness identification. They also allege that Jones' co-defendant confessed to carjacking and killing Paul Howell in 1999.

If Jones did not kill Howell and was not present at the scene, he should be fully exonerated. Justice demands it.

The actual evidence points to his guilt. A witness claimed Jones drove the victim's car to his home on the night of the shooting and was wearing the exact outfit — white shirt, black stocking cap, and red bandana — the victim's sister described to police. The police later found that bandana and the murder weapon in Jones' home. The bandana was tested in 2017 and was found to match Jones' DNA.

The issue here isn't opposition to the death penalty. There are people across the political spectrum who object to the practice for religious, moral, and administrative reasons. No definition of justice includes executing an innocent person for evil acts committed by others, but there is another side to that coin as well. Failing to punish the wicked for the evil they do is also an injustice. Worse yet is holding them up as heroes or excusing their behavior for the sake of political expediency.

This isn't just about Julius Jones. In recent years, Hollywood celebrities have joined with death penalty opponents to advocate for several people on death row. The most well-known case involved Stanley "Tookie" Williams, the co-founder of the Crips. Williams was convicted of murdering four people, but his case brought together rappers and actors who claimed he changed his life and should be spared death. Even the founder of one of the most notorious street gangs in America can become a sympathetic figure if the right people get behind him.

The left has a completely inverted view of justice that prioritizes the feelings of lawbreakers over the needs of the victims. This is why citizens from San Francisco to New York City are frustrated when they don't see serious consequences for thieves who steal from stores in broad daylight or commuters who assault passengers on the subway.

Imagine being the mother of Jacob Blake's children and seeing the man you accused of sexually assaulting and terrorizing you venerated as a near-martyr for racial justice. The same goes for the parents of the children Joseph Rosenbaum molested.

The same goes for the academics and journalists who claimed that people burning down buildings and destroying property were simply engaging in political speech, not committing crimes. These small business owners who work tirelessly to provide jobs and services to their communities were quickly dismissed by people who appear on cable news shows to declare that "rioting is the language of the unheard."

Like every other issue they champion, radicals wrap this inversion of justice in brown skin to make it more palatable to the public. This is why we are unlikely to see the same level of anti-death penalty activity on behalf of Dylan Roof. Aside from a handful of activists and academics, most of the celebrities who say the death penalty is barbaric wouldn't dare say anything that could be misinterpreted as supporting an actual white supremacist. They only champion the cause of convicted rapists and murderers if it furthers a political agenda.

The reason the left immediately brings up rape during every debate about abortion is because they actually believe unwanted children are more worthy of death than men who violate women sexually. This moral perversion is why they use "reproductive justice" as a euphemism for intentionally killing the unborn and "criminal justice" as their rallying cry for sparing the lives of convicted murderers. That's not a standard of justice I recognize.
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