Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Sam and Shiyun on unfairness in the justice system

Sam:

Ethics alone can be a very controversial topic, with so many sub topics and issues, its hard to narrow down and figure out the issues surrounding ethics. however, not straying from our Philosophy conversations in class, I will be discussing the issues of discrimination against our Aboriginal peoples within the Judicial system. For many years, its been a hot zone between our Canadian government and the natives of this land. They have been discriminated against, cast aside, and were ripped from what was truly theirs to begin with. (true land, strong and free? OK Harper.) However, despite Harpers blatantly obvious attempts to subdue our nations native peoples, they continue to fight back in small ways, defending what little we have ‘given’ them. Lets take a look at the ‘Sparrow Case’; in 1984, Musqueam band member Ronald Sparrow was arrested for fishing with too long of a net. Good job Canada, we have former prisoners walking around and you’re arresting the native guy that has a long net to catch fish. However, despite the complete stupidity over this case, it had very positive outcomes.

http://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/home/land-rights/sparrow-case.html

http://www.amnesty.ca/our-work/issues/indigenous-peoples/discrimination-against-first-nations-children

I feel that personally, this is ethically wrong. How is it fair the our native people, the people who first originated this land, are treated like the lowest in a caste system of Canadians? Its completely unjust and discriminatory that through our judicial system, the system that is supposed to be unflawed and completely neutral, is unfair towards a people that are fighting for what is rightfully theirs. If anything out judicial system should be blind to the person that stands before them & judged solely on their crimes rather than who their ancestors are and where they come from.

Shiyun:

Ethics may be a controversial subject, but it is something that interests many people and everybody has something to say about it. I have chosen to talk about the injustice of the judicial system in the United States. There are evidence of racism in the system thus making the punishment for criminal cases unjust. The system is biased towards caucasians as there are statistics that prove that they receive less jail time along with other types of punishment or fines. On the other hand, african americans and minorities in the United States are sentenced with harsher penalties because of their race. An example would be the Ferguson unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael Brown, an unarmed african american, was shot to death by Darren Wilson, a white male police officer.It is believed that Brown was raising his hands up to surrender when he was fatally shot by Wilson. There were no criminal charges against Wilson. This incident was sparked an unrest in Ferguson that began with peaceful protests but led to looting and violence around the vicinity of the shooting.

I feel that it was extremely unfair that Wilson was able to walk away from the whole incident scot-free. There was definitely some biased in the court towards him because of his occupation and race.

Approach:

  •  Categorical imperative: When somebody commits, a crime, they get an equal punishment as everybody else no matter the situation.
  •  Utilitarianism: Every case is looked at differently and taking in account the person’s race and circumstances.
  • Veil of ignorance: There is a set punishment for everybody, regardless their race, occupation, or what family and situation they were born into.

 

How can it be addressed??

Unfortunately, racism is a concept that is still alive and well in today’s society whether you live in Canada, the United States, or any other part of the world. It’s a topic that can only be fixed through the next generations of people. Being a social topic, and involving the decision over people’s lives, it’s hard to rely solely on the categorical imperative in terms of criminal justice. In Canada, we feel that addressing the problem is addressing our government, speaking out and saying collectively as a society that “this is wrong and we need to change as a nation”. Racism is an unethical, social issue; being discriminated against because you were born into a certain race, culture, or religion. In the categorical imperative, the hypothetical imperative can be directly applied to the judicial system. you do not know beforehand what it contains – until the condition is given. Total and absolute non discriminatory situation in justice of the people.

 

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