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.