Monday, September 2, 2013

Transformative Justice

Department of "You can't make this stuff up, folks." Thanks to John Connolly for pointing this out.

We are, as a culture, today taking seriously ideas that would have been considered too screwy for a National Lampoon parody forty years ago. We're actually discussing same-sex marriage, for example, instead of laughing it out of court or wherever it insinuates itself. Things that people have traditionally been stoned or hanged or burned for throughout human history are now the characteristic behaviors of "oppressed minorities" who get affirmative action and their own special chairs in English departments around the academic world.

Is this what was happening when Rome declined?  The Persian Empire?  Egypt? I don't know, but I rather think Caligula would have enjoyed attending this little symposium, reported in the Windy City Times:

Event looks at Trayvon Martin case through queer, feminist eyes
by Yasmin Nair, Windy City Times

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict, Chicago has seen several public events and workshops exploring its aftermath. On Aug. 15, queer and feminist scholars gathered at the famous Hull House for a panel titled, "Transformative Justice and The Trayvon Martin Case: A Consideration."

There have been many cries for justice and calls for the prosecution and incarceration of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Martin. However, this panel was put together to explore the possibilities of transformative justice (TJ) in the wake of the event.

TJ emphasizes alternatives to what is called the prison—industrial complex (PIC). For its proponents, TJ forgoes revenge and believes that more incarceration only worsens the conditions that made the violence possible in the first place. TJ also resists using the PIC, believing that it is in itself brutal and harmful toward both the guilty and the injured parties.

With a strong commitment to TJ, three panelists and the organizer, Mariame Kaba, addressed the immediate responses to the Trayvon Martin verdict and discussed what TJ alternatives might be.

Kaba—founding director of Project NIA, a center whose goal is to end youth incarceration—said the aim of the evening's conversation was to initiate a much-needed conversation, not to declare absolute solutions at the end.

She said that the panel came out of her long-standing sense of "being unsettled," as she grappled with first the shooting, then the various outcries for justice which went against her prison abolitionist politics, and then her certain knowledge that the verdict would be "not guilty."

At the same time, Kaba understood why another verdict had been important for many. When it came through, she was taken aback and saddened when her 13-year-old nephew asked, "Why did they not convict him? Don't they know it's wrong to kill Black kids?" She said, "He feels his life is not valuable."
(Read the rest HERE.)

1 comment:

  1. "Don't they know it's wrong to kill Black kids?"
    It's the adjective that sums up the entire Martin- Zimmerman mess.

    Can I have a bag of the discussions in question for my garden for next spring?