I have nearly lost my faith in the justice system. Only the Scott Peterson verdict leaves me clinging onto hope that it can be saved without massive amounts of, as my game-saavy colleagues say, "pwnage." I felt like going off on this in the NY gay marriage thread, but I think this merits a new topic. Come with me, as I chronicle my descent into the pits of despair as my faith in the justice system declines over the years. circa 1986: I was a naive young child when I first understood the concept of justice. I was used to seeing it go straight from crime to (super)hero intervention to jail, but alas, this idealistic young vision was shattered when I caught my mother watching "Perry Mason" and "Matlock." She explained what a trial was in infantile terms and I mostly understood. After Superman, Batman, or just the plain 'ole police caught the bad guy, they couldn't just put him in jail becuase that wouldn't really be fair. Whoever caught him might be mistaken or could even be trying to send the guy to jail just because he doesn't like him, so they have a trial where the police and a lawyer (and possibly Superman or Batman or Danger Mouse or some other superhero) had to convince twelve other people he did it while a judge made sure they were fair. I walked away with a new understanding of justice, but still had faith that evil cops and judges and bad guys planting evidence were the only flaws in the system, and that Superman (or any other superhero) could catch them. circa 1990: In a blow that will set the trend for the rest of my life, a friend of the family was arrested for child molestation. One of the kids at the day care where she works tore her hymen falling off of a bike-like piece of playground equipment. It was an innocent accident, but the parents weren't convinced. They hired a psychologist who failed to account for the "I say what I think they want me to say," quirk in kids actually convinced the kid, over time, that she was molested. By the time the kid was seven, she was being dragged through court with the full belief that she was molested. She was traumatized for life and I think my parents' friend is finally up for probation this year. circa 1992: My first knowledge of Roe vs. Wade hit my brain while learning about government in school. This was my first real blow. "How can judges make laws?" I said to myself. I especially couldn't figure out how they made such a bad law. What was wrong with them? Congress made laws. Judges just made sure the guys Superman caught got a fair trial. Why didn't anybody stop them. It was lunacy. I still had faith that this was a "glitch in the system," but it required more investigation. Summer 1994: O.J. Simpson was arrested. I wasn't a big football fan, but had heard of him because he played with former Razorback (sooiee), Joe Ferguson. I didn't quite grasp what was going on, but I would...all too well. 1995: It didn't take long, even for a Warcraft and Final Fantasy addicted 13-year old, to figure out that this trial was a sham. I watched the updates on T.V. as I saw that the gears of justice were grinding...not like a well oiled machine grinds gears, but the way a rusty machine that didn't have oil to start with grinds. That and a guy grinding his teeth at night...ugh. Where was I? Oh yes, the gears of justice. The jury spend more time sequestered than at trial, Cochran was a complete idiot, parading around with stupid rhymes like the trial was some sort of poetry slam. "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," became a slightly lesser pop culture icon of stupidity than its later successor, "All your base are belong to us." Not that the prosecutor was much better. I could see the crime having gone down either way, but the trial? The only stuff that made O.J. look innocent never made its way to the jurors. Then, the jurors acquitted him anyway. I remember us all getting out of class to see the verdict and we couldn't believe it. It was so retarded. I thought the bad guys went to jail. Kalel had failed me for the last time... I turned my back on thinking the police sent bad guys to jail. Soon afterwords, I fully found out that the appeals system can keep a death penalty from happening for decades. No longer did cops send bad guys to jail in my mind. Cops sent bad guys to trial and prosecutors sent them to jail...no thanks to the judges, and defense lawyers were crap. 1996: At 14, I got my first exposure to "Law and Order." I love the show, but seeing a realistic presentation of the justice system made me realize that the real villians were high-profile defense attorneys. They'd fight tooth and nail to keep really bad guys from going to jail, even though they knew their clients were REALLY freakin' bad guys. What's worse is that not only did this not get them a butt-kicking from a superhero, it got them paid a lot more than my dad could ever hope to make, and he's a CPA...a lot more...I'm not talking about multiplying my dad's salary, we're talking exponents (not really, but you get the point...maybe exponents between one and two). 1998: Eleven girls are gunned down at a Jonesboro school. Many of my friends at ASMS (Arkasas School for Math and Science) went there. I saw the looks on their faces. I couldn't believe it myself. Two kids not only killed their parents and classmates in cold blood, the classmates were girls. Had they no decency left? I wanted to see them rot in jail for life, but what's this? They're "only kids" (only kids my a**, if you're old enough to shoot people dead, you're old enough to go to jail) and the most the law can do is lock them away in a minimum security playschool until they're 18, only 6 years for the younger one. My dream of Superman...or even Batman helping us was completely shattered. At that point, I would've settled for Daredevil, but alas... Also in 1998: I discovered mp3's, roms, and warez on mIRC. Anybody who doesn't know where this is going should shoot themselves for the good of the species. 2000: While in the Naval Academy, already undergoing stress like most of you can't imagine (notice I said most, those in boot camp can empathize and the rest of you can step back, cause sympathy doesn't work, only empathy), I find out that the Ninth Circuit ruled against Napster and I was nowhere near a place to go download crazy. Fortunately, appeals kept it alive until I could milk it. Now, I had lost faith in companies. I remembered thinking what a load of crap "Captain Planet" was. I remembered thinking, "Why would anybody do something that p.o.'s their own customers with no profit incentive whatsoever?" At that moment, I knew Captain Planet was right, but I knew he couldn't save us because the heart power is frickin' gay and only five non-gay powers can defeat something as large as the RIAA. It's like attacking Russia using automatic firearms, artillery, tanks, air support, and trendy fashion. That last one kinda ruins the whole thing. No, Captain Planet would not save us from the evil corporations. The bad guys had won. The justice system scored a victory in my eyes, though, when it shut down the Florida binge-whining labeled as a recount. I didn't think Bush would get sworn in until I was 40 and Al Gore definitely needed a nap. 2001: A string of lawsuits attempted, but failed, to shut down Napster's replacements. I thought, "The judges in Roe vs. Wade and a few other cases since then (Hawaii Supreme court and gay marriage anyone?) had made their own laws to force progressive ideologies on us, so why didn't they do the same thing to force common sense on the RIAA? That is when I realized that only evil would come from the dark side. A recession soon hit after 9/11, causing a decline in sales of everything except music. Only illegal downloading could possibly have cause a decline in music sales, despite the fact that by this time, all CDs were just previous CDs with different names on them and the original CDs sucked in the first place except for maybe one song each, that and the the fact that word was spreading that the Beatles songs, bastion of good music when music was actually music, were owned by Michael Jackson, largely thought to be a pedophile and largely known to be a sicko and an affeminate freak. 2002: A friend of mine, 20 at the time, was at his cousin's house, 13 at the time, hanging out in her room. This cousin was like the little sister he never had, cause his sister was a jerk, and he loved her like he would love a sister. The only problem is that her mother hates him. Well, while they were chillin', he tripped and landed on her in a comprimizing position. They thought nothing of this, felt awkward for a moment, and went on with their day. Her mother caught wind of this and either brainwashed her or threatened her to get her to testify that she was molested. My friend was dragged out of a church service in cuffs and beat up in jail. His public defender was a wuss and incompetant, so to avoid jail time, my friend pleaded to a lesser charge, with 5 years probation, and large fine, mandatory counseling, and a restraining order against him coming close to the girl. He is also a registered sex offender. He's a good man and I'd trust him with my life, yet thanks to the integrity of our justice system, there's a black mark on his record and he'll never see his cousin again. The only up side is that he didn't have to go to Iraq. 2003: Grannies sued for sharing because some hacker parked his stash on their box. College professors sued for sharing because some homework files contain the words '50' and/or 'cent.' Kid in the ghetto sued on national TV. Settlemen payed for via Pay Pal. Non-Mexican who hates Latino music sued for sharing thousands of Latino songs while out of the country with his computer unplugged. I found out about the DMCA and how you don't even really need a copyright to get somebody's name and address using just their IP address and how you can't bypass gay region encoding because it's part of the copy protection. I see many more lawsuits filed against people for just looking at a piece of technology that might be used to violate "intellectual property rights." I fully expect a crowbar manufacturer to be sued because a crowbar may be used to bypass the theft and copy protection implemented by the distributor after hours. I also find out that when somebody finally decided to stop griping about Battle.net and prove they could do better, they get sued because suddenly, a multiplayer game finder is copy protection just because it compares CD keys. There is only one laugh during this whole fiasco. The gay copy protection that keeps CDs from being read by computers or non-RIAA approved CD players (btw, yours is not approved, so you'll have to buy another$$$$) can be bypassed by a sharpie...brilliant. Oh, and the previous encryption was posted on the internet with a challenge to crack it. Those who took up the challenge were sued. Only their victories, amid plaintiff loss in almost every other frivilous case that year, kept me sane. 2004: After further review, I think it should be a crime to make empty threats with the justice system. I saw too many anti-whatever sites shut down because fanboys pretending to be legal representatives scared them off with cease and decist letters. Glenn Beck even had to change theme songs because the "artists" of the song he parodied threatened to sue, despite the fact that the nineteen seventy...something copyright act allows unauthorized use of copyrighted work for purpose of critique and parody. Robert Blake's trial hasn't entered jury selection...WTF?! Marvel (only Marvel, DC retained a bit of sanity) sues the makers of "City of Heroes" since players can theoretically make clones of Marvel characters. Apparently, Marvel has copyrighted laser eyes *cough*Superman*cough*, metal claws, weather control, fire, and any costume involving spandex. Maybe next, we should go after pencil manufacturers, since their users constantly draw derivations of copyrighted art. Then, we could attack cloth factories, since their products can be used to create non-authorized costume replicas. The fact that the case wasn't dismissed on day one is a traveshamockery (travesty, sham, mockery). Oh Spiderman, thou hast left me. Your creators have turned on us. 2005: Not content to leave my friend alone (see 2002), the police search his computer without a warrent. They turned up a few risque anime screenshots and declared it pornography, a violation of his parole. They arrested him on a trumped up charge with a mandatory 10 year sentence because they believe so much that he's not only guilty of the first crime and willing to commit it again, but that they're justified in taking illegal and unethical measures to keep him locked up. Their zealousness with this sex offender thing is what got him moved out of the dorm in the first place. In general, the following repeated events have ticked me off. Every time a member of the legal profession wishes he could have been on the Supreme Court during the 2000 election. Every time the Ninth Circuit says...anything. Every time the MA Supreme Court says...anything. Every time the RIAA or MPAA say...anything. Every time I hear the words "Intellectual Property." Repeated events that have restored faith: I'm still thinking. In short, my formerly high opinion of the justice system has eroded away into a pebble. I can barely hang on to my faith in the system.