SocraticGadfly: Without guilt and justice in the Texas courtroom

December 17, 2019

Without guilt and justice in the Texas courtroom

The title's first half should be in quotes, as I am referring to Walter Kaufman's "Without Guilt and Justice."

Without Guilt and Justice: From Decidophobia to AutonomyWithout Guilt and Justice: From Decidophobia to Autonomy by Walter Kaufmann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kaufmann, Nietzsche's foremost expositor, and best English translator, brings his own considerable philosophical skills to play in this volume.

It is true that some of his specific references, such as the "alienation" of mid-20th century psychology, or his riffs on Solzhenitysn, may be dated.

But his core arguments certainly are not.

Kaufmann spends a fair amount of time turning a withering moral eye to retributive justice, and another withering logical and existential eye to the idea of proportional justice, and various related ideas.

Hence his title "Without Guilt and Justice." Kaufmann argues convincingly that neither idea can be logically generated within an overarching system of morals. One can almost see John Rawls being ground to grist between the millstones of Kaufmann's cogitating.

But, this is small confort to humanists who would argue that an enlightened system of morality exists without religion. Instead, Kaufmann is saying that ALL systems of morals, no matter their metaphysical base or antimetaphysical base, are existential in nature. As for particular moral terms like "guilt" and "justice," without specifically referencing Wittgenstein, Kaufmann's argument appears to be that they are part of the language games we play.

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So, where does the Texas courtroom come in?

Last month, at my current newspaper location, a teacher pled guilty to two counts of "improper relationship with a student."

She got five years probation, a fine, and of course, loss of her teacher certification. No jail time.

Had it been a male teacher and female students? The book probably would have been thrown. Absolutely, if we had had a male-male or female-female situation. This is Texas. And rural Texas is still where the wingers fly high.

But, it's not just that.

Two newspapers back, five years ago, had a similar situation. Female teacher, male student. Complicated by the teacher's oldest son being at the same high school.

Case went to trial and the teacher got several years.

In the first case above, the later, current case? One of the hookups involved, in part, Snapchat. Now, "snaps" are supposed to disappear by default, but I think you can make them non-disappearing. You can also, of course, do screengrabs. Reportedly, parents just wanted the case to go away, too. But, maybe the DA was being a red ass. Until he was told, "Look, if this goes to trial ..."

The earlier case? The kid had a Twitter account. It was mentioned — not just that he had one, but WHAT the account was — during the trial. During lunch break, the first thing I did back at my office is look it up.

His feed looked like a wannabe "playa." And, no, not the Spanish word for a salt flat.

Did the hookup turn him into that?

Well, I had the approximate date for the start of the sexual part of the hookup, so I scrolled back that far in his Twitter feed.

It may have made him more of a playa wannabe than before, but, he was somewhat that way before that. 

Why the defense attorney didn't introduce this? Especially as said kid had just signed a college sports scholarship, and to a private college to boot?

If the judge ruled it inadmissible, just to make doubly sure my appeal was well grounded, I think I would have tried to introduce it anyway.

Besides that, that can't have been the case. After all, the assistant DA was the person who mentioned the Twitter account.

That said, this was a teacher, not some indigent. And, the lawyer wasn't from Shelby County. the family hired someone, I don't even think from Nacogdoches; I think they went to Tyler.

Just shows you that you can blow money on a lawyer and still get a bad one.

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