Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Veil of Deception" by N. Clarke

We all live beneath a massive veil of deception that has been put on us since the moment we became self aware. Either by blissful ignorance or by choice, we live under the assumption that the world around us is a good place, and that all the problems and evil that permeates human society is far, far away and that there are systems in place to protect us. We are told that police are always there to help us, and that the justice system is there to make sure that the bad guys are punished and the good guys always win. We are meant to believe that every time a person is convicted of a crime, that person is guilty no matter what. How could they not be? They were convicted after all.
This is not always the case, though. Nothing is ever perfect, and the American justice system is no exception to that rule. Sometimes, mistakes are made. Sometimes, bad people are put in charge of cases. Sometimes, innocent people get hurt. It is times like these that the true darkness of society rears its ugly head and most of us are content to just look away and ignore it, lest we see beyond the veil and are forced to accept that the evil in the world is much closer to us than we care to admit. We would much rather just go along with the mistakes and treat the person as guilty simply because we are told it is so. We don’t know the person’s story, we don’t know the context of what happened, we can’t even say for 100% certain that they are actually guilty, we just assume they are because that’s what the justice system said.
In times when innocents are hurt by the justice system, it should be up to society to pick up where the justice system failed them, and yet that doesn’t happen. The courtroom is the be-all end-all of these matters, and that is what society will choose to believe. There are some crimes that fling society into a moral panic as well, and a person accused of such a crime is often deemed guilty before they even step foot in court, and that results in some of the most unthinkable horrors human society can inflict upon a person being forced upon an innocent person who was simply a victim of circumstance. And what happens when these people are chewed up and spat back out of the justice system that failed them? Society treats them like sub-human garbage. They are seen as horrible monsters devoid of any humanity or feelings and are treated as such, because if they aren’t then society is forced to admit that it was wrong, that the justice system isn’t perfect, and that the veil exists and there is an actual world beyond it that isn’t pretty, and sadly, this fact also makes it difficult to bring about change.
We’d rather sit back and believe that everybody convicted of a crime is guilty, and that false convictions are rare and would never EVER happen to anybody we care about. We’d rather hide behind the veil of ignorance and believe that we are safe. But that can’t happen. Not anymore. Too many innocent people suffer under the boot of a justice system that has long since become a greed-fueled entity that exists not to serve justice, but to serve the interests of the parties overseeing cases. Police departments get to look like they’re doing a good job. Judges get to look like they’re being tough on crime. Attorneys get paid huge sums by feeding off the desperate. Private jails get more and more money the more inmates they house. The state gets a constant stream of money from probationers paying huge fees that they have to skip meals just to afford or risk going to prison. And this all is allowed to happen because the public would rather think that the system is benevolent and always does good than admit that the system put in place to protect them is broken.
That is exactly why it is time for people to stand up and demand change. Demand justice reform. What will it take for people to see beyond the veil? Will it take their loved one getting accused of a crime they didn’t commit and driven into crippling debt to prove their innocence? Will it take somebody’s son getting accused of a heinous sex crime that he couldn’t have possibly committed but found guilty anyway because of courtroom bias? Will it take somebody’s mother committing suicide because her reputation was destroyed by a false accusation and her family came under constant scrutiny?
You might say “oh that will never happen to me or anybody I know”. Well Farrah Barney probably thought that too. Her family probably assumed they would never have to go through what they have. Her friends probably assumed that nothing like that would ever happen to her. But it did. The fact is that it can happen to anybody who leaves the house, anybody who interacts with other people, anybody who is a part of society is at risk of becoming another casualty of the failings of the American justice system, and we must all stand up and work together to stop this. Make no mistake, innocent people are being wrongfully punished, some with slaps on the wrist, others have their entire lives and futures destroyed, and more people will continue to fall victim to this unless we all choose to see beyond the veil and open our eyes to the brutal truth of our imperfect world. Then, and only then, can we all start working together to make a better place for everybody.

--N. Clarke

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