Sebastian Junger

“The state's case against Smith, however, did claim to speak to his actual guilt or innocence, and it has to be considered carefully. The reason this is important has nothing to do with Roy Smith or Bessie Goldberg or even Al DeSalvo; they're all dead. In some ways there is nothing less relevant than an old murder case. The reason it is important is this: Here is a group of people who have gathered to judge--and possibly execute--a fellow citizen. It's the highest calling there is, the very thing that separates us from social anarchy, and it has to be done well. A trial, however, is just a microcosm of the entire political system. When a democratic government decides to raise taxes or wage war or write child safety laws, it is essentially saying to an enormous jury, "This is our theory of how the world works, and this is our proposal for dealing with it. If our theory makes sense to you, vote for us in the next election. If it doesn't, throw us out." The ability of citizens to scrutinize the theories insisted on by their government is their only protection against abuse of power and, ultimately, against tyranny. If ordinary citizens can't coolly and rationally evaluate a prosecutor's summation in a criminal trial, they won't have a chance at calling to task a deceitful government. And all governments are deceitful--they're deceitful because it's easier than being honest. Most of the time, it's no more sinister than that.”


Sebastian Junger, A Death in Belmont
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A Death in Belmont A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger
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