Monday, May 16, 2016

Shouldn't We All Be Justice-Involved?

Can we keep up?

The politically correct police are working overtime these days.  Not only have public bathrooms suddenly become political war zones, but a hip new phrase has quietly been introduced into our judgment-free lexicon:

"Justice-Involved Individuals."

It's a pretty flexible term, which can range from "justice-involved youth" to "justice-involved veterans" to "justice-involved services."  There are "justice-involved women" but, oddly enough, no "justice-involved men."

Seems a bit biased to me, but whatever.

Now, "justice-involved" isn't the new term for cops or judges.  Well, not directly, anyway (unless you live in Chicago)!  In case you haven't figured it out yet, "justice-involved" is the new PC term for "criminal."  It's a broad catch-phrase for anybody who's been arrested, whose case has been adjudicated, who's ever served time in any type of prison, regardless of their age, offense, yadda-yadda-yadda.  If you've ever been involved in a punitive way with our criminal justice system, you're now "justice-involved."


On the one hand, it makes sense.  In terms of using terminology that accurately describes something, if you've ever been involved in a punitive way with our criminal justice system, then yes; you've been "justice-involved."  You've been involved with our criminal justice system.

And yes, there is a somewhat logical reason for the desire to develop this new euphemism.  As you're probably aware, people who have been punitively involved in our criminal justice system generally have a much harder time finding employment and securing education after they've been to prison.  Just about every job for which we apply these days requires a criminal background check.  Schools require them, and many applications for loans or other significant transactions may ask about your involvement with our criminal justice system.  For those people who have committed a crime and have served - or are serving - their "debt to society," constantly being denied because of something illegal in their past can create a never-ending cycle of poverty, misery, poor education, and even recidivism.

It's not wrong of us to try and help such people get back on their feet again.  After all, if they can't get an education or a job to support themselves, how else except through crime can they survive?

But seriously:  "justice-involved?"  Why is it necessary to soften the impact of having a criminal background?  Having a record is serious business, even if those of us without one should be willing to give those who do the benefit of the doubt if they've served their time.  Think about it:  A lot of people have broken laws.  But people with a criminal background are those who got caught.

Besides, can the impact of such a stigma be softened simply by forcing a new term upon it?  Granted, "used cars" are now "pre-owned," but generally speaking, in the consumer's mind, they realize that somebody selling a used car as pre-owned is simply trying to inflate the price.  It's disingenuous.  It's lipstick on a pig.  It's butter on stale bread.  It's silly.

So is having a criminal history silly?  No.  But we could change "criminal background" to "XYZ Imputed," and the effect will be the same:  We'll simply know that the person we're talking about has a record.  As Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

In fact, by trying to make things sound innocuous with a terminology change, couldn't our skepticism and suspicions be raised a notch?  "Oh, they're using that new term," an employer thinks to themself, "so maybe what they did was really worse than what I'd initially imagine."

"Hmm... they're trying to make me think that 'justice-involved' is less serious than 'criminal.'  I wonder why?"

"You say this SUV is 'pre-owned' instead of merely 'used?'  You think I was born under a rock?"

Yes, there is a stigma about having a criminal history that is hard to overcome.  But just changing the name won't change the stigma.  Instead of advocating for a name change to the terminology by which we recognize somebody's criminal background, how about advocating for changes to those things in our society that tend to result in *gasp* a criminal record in the first place?

On the one hand, our PC police are trying to negate the reality of criminality.  But on the other hand, maybe we should be pleased that at least the PC police recognize our criminal justice system is based on a fairly robust semblance of "justice."  Otherwise, they wouldn't be trying to foist "justice-involved" on us. (Take that; left-wingers who scoff about our justice system being rigged.)

Meanwhile, beyond all of this, a deeper truth exists.  If you really want to be accurate, we should all be "involved" with justice, right?  Involved with doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

Leave it to the PC police to inadvertently drag criminality into an otherwise noble aspiration.

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