Oscar Pistorius – Why a Trial when he’s Guilty?

Oscar-Pistorius-Trial-On-TVWhen I got up this morning and looked at ESPN3 to see if there are any upcoming events available I noted that the Oscar Pistorius trial is being broadcast live.

Cases like this make me think about the purpose of laws, trials, and the nature of justice. Before I get into my thoughts I’ll recap events in the Pistorius case for those who are not following along.

Pistorius is an athlete from South Africa who I wrote about not long ago in regards to the fact that he has two artificial legs. The article that day was about how mechanically enhanced athletes will soon be dominating those without artificial aid (medically enhanced athletes already dominate those who don’t use PEDs but that’s another topic).

On February 14, 2013 Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. There are two versions of events.

Pistorius claims that he awoke in the middle of the night, heard sounds, assumed a burglar was in his bathroom, and shot through the closed-door four times only later realizing that it was Steenkamp. This is, obviously, a lie.

What happened is that Pistorius and Steenkamp were engaged in an angry, passionate fight heard by neighbors over a hundred meters away. Pistorius chased her into the bathroom where she locked the door. In a fit of rage and madness he fired into the bathroom four times, hitting her three times, once in the head.

It’s clear to everyone that Pistorius intentionally shot her. That his fabricated version of events is filled with logical holes. So why are we having a trial? What’s the purpose of laws? Judges? The nature of justice?

This is what brought me to Wikipedia articles about Law and about Justice. It speaks to why I’m a Libertarian. If we do not have laws then people within society are subject to the whims of those in power. Without the concept of blind justice those in authority can simply do whatever they want.

What happens when law becomes perverted? When wealthy and powerful people can do as they wish? When politicians can terrorize citizens without repercussions? When police agencies can take our possessions on trumped-up charges designed to fleece us?

I’ll tell you what happens: people stop believing that justice is possible in their nation. When people give up on justice they get violent. When people believe that a legal system works and they can have their grievances fairly adjudicated they work within the system.

That’s why there is a Pistorius trail, despite his obvious guilt.

I know some people are going to read these words and try to politicize them. Blame Republicans or Democrats for violating the spirit of the law. I’m both with you and against you. I’m with you in that, yes, Republicans/Democrats are eager and willing to ignore the law when it benefits them. I’m against you in that one side is in greater violation than the other.

This is largely the problem. Most people seem to have no objection whatsoever when the group they support violates the law to pursue their ends. Anything to win an election as long as it’s your political party.

When we stop looking for justice and merely want to expedite our agenda we tear down the fabric of our nation, one law at a time. If you don’t like it when the other side violates a law, I suggest the solution is to come down hard on your side when they do the same.

So I got pretty far from the headline of this post but the trial itself doesn’t interest me much. Pistorius is murderous scum regardless of the outcome. It’s the reason for the trial that intrigues me. In a totalitarian state Pistorius would either be hanged already or been given his freedom by a sympathetic dictator.

Be happy if you live in a republic (like South Africa) and do what you can to preserve it (regardless of your political affiliation).

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Cyborg Olympian

Oscar PistoriousThe 2012 London Olympics are fast approaching and there is a fascinating situation unfolding. A South African by the name of Oscar Pistorious is being allowed to compete in the sprint competitions. Being allowed? Yep, he’s a cyborg! His legs were amputated at a young age and he uses artificial devices called blades in their place.

This is interesting because it won’t be long before athletes such as Pistorious are defeating their human counterparts with regularity. It wasn’t that long ago that a chess computer first beat a master but now they present a huge problem with the potential to cheat in chess competitions. Chess computers are better than human players.

It doesn’t take much extrapolation to realize that engineering technology will soon make legs capable of more efficient movement than human legs, arms stronger than human arms, and hands steadier than human hands. What does this mean for competition? It means that men and women with artificial attachments will defeat those who are completely human. Eventually but not immediately on the horizon are artificial implants wherein someone might have enhanced engineering but pass themselves off as completely “natural”.

Whether to allow such artificially enhanced humans into competitions is but one question we must face. Imagine a world where your child cannot compete for a job without artificial enhancements. Imagine a world where genetic engineering manufactures smarter, faster, better, people. There is an interesting movie called Gattica worth a watch but I’m going to dial this one away from science fiction and into science reality.

Oscar Pistorious. Should he be allowed to compete in the Olympics against people without engineering enhancements? The Olympic committees says yes now, but the problem is only going to become more severe in years to come. I’m going to agree with the Olympic committee which argues that the technology, as it exists today, is no better than human legs and therefore he has no advantage. However, it’s clear to me that this issue will soon be resolved in the other direction and engineering will provide an advantage. At that point I’m not sure what can be done. Amputee athletes will want to compete not just in the Olympics but in leagues for children all the way up to and including professional sports. Is it right to deny them the joy of competition? I don’t think so, but each one of them will replace another competitor, one who is not enhanced. Will we see young athletes opting to amputate their legs for the sheer purpose of getting better ones? It’s not so far-fetched as you might imagine.

I’m afraid I offer little in the way of resolution to this issue. People will always want to better themselves and trying to legislate against human nature is an exercise in futility. Brace yourselves for what is not too far in the future.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
New Release: The Hammer of Fire