05 September 2006

Criminals and victims

A workmate received a chain joke email. For those who read Spanish, Ingrid has a copy (apparently this thing's been circulating for some time now). The exact contents are not important. The email is superficially a funny piece of satire about the workings of the Argentine judicial system. It's a legalese-written revision of the case of Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, where LRRH ends up getting the blame and the Wolf is absolved; it's signed by Supreme Court Justice Eugenio Raúl Zaffaroni.

Didn't that ring a bell?

Think again.

OK. Justice Zaffaroni, who specializes in criminal law, was criticized by the right upon his appointment because he's a garantista ("guaranteeist"?). When dealing with crime, he believes that constitutional checks and legal guarantees for the person accused of the crime are above the need to punish crime, or said more easily, you can't deprive a person of rights because you're sure s/he's a criminal.

Think again. Is Little Red Riding Hood's revisited tale just light satire?

There are people in Argentina (cough cough Blumberg! cough) who employ the word garantista as an insult. They feel the victims should be somewhat avenged. In truth, a judge cannot be but a keeper of legal guarantees for everybody. A judge who doesn't guarantee everybody a fair trial is not a good judge, and surely not a good Supreme Justice. Am I making myself understood?

The "Argie Justice version" of LRRH and the Wolf is a piece of right-wing propaganda that says: screw the criminals. They shouldn't have more rights than I do. They're animals. Yeah, maybe they're just poor ignorant hungry bastards, but that's no excuse. Better kill them preemptively and be done with it. Or let me kill them. I'm an honest taxpayer, not some dopehead who'd kill me for my wallet. I should be allowed to kill those dopeheads for my wallet.

I told my workmates what I thought of this email. They accepted it, and I think they agreed. The only thing that worried me was: how many sensible, honest people in Argentina, faced with this revolting "satire", thoughtlessly find it funny and true?

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