Victims’ Rights?

At The American Scholar, William Deresiewicz puts forth a proposition:

There’s no such thing as victims’ rights. More than that, our whole idea of criminal justice, as it emerged in ancient Athens, is built upon their negation. The belief that justice acts on behalf of the injured, which lies behind the notion of victims’ rights, belongs to an older system: vendetta.

My interest in this matter lacks the detachment that Deresiewicz brings to the discussion, but it’s an interesting viewpoint, and I call it to your attention.

In a way, I can find something to like about his position. My parents were the victims. My brother is the accused (and he asserts his innocence.) My family therefore is potentially both victim and victimizer. Regardless of the trial’s outcome, the fact that it is a process of the State relieves me of a sense of responsibility for an outcome that can’t possibly be satisfactory, whatever it may be. Put another way, it’s not my call, and I’m glad of it. That’s not a right — or a responsibility — I want. And since there can’t be a happy ending, I’ll settle for an exposure of the truth, whatever that may be.

That much I think, we all have a right to.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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2 Responses to Victims’ Rights?

  1. majormaddog says:

    As soon as you know exact dates you’ll be up there let me know. I’m tentatively on the calendar at work for leave in September, but need to lock in exact dates.

    • profmondo says:

      Well, I’ve heard a couple of rumbles that it may be continued into Spring 2012(!), but as it stands, 12 Sep is the opening date, and I intend to be there as soon as the jury is impaneled, and to stay for the duration. Whenever it is, it’ll be good to see you.

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