Monday, May 14, 2007

JSB: The Pantsing of Justice

Did you hear about the 75 year old woman arrested for shoplifting? She was taken to the judge and admitted stealing a can of peaches.

“Why’d you steal the peaches?” the judge asked.

“I was hungry,” the woman replied.

“It’s still against the law.”

“I know.”

“How many peaches were in the can?”


“All right,” said the judge. “I am going to give you six days in jail, one day for each peach in the can.”

At this point, the woman’s husband stood up in the courtroom and asked to speak.

“What is it?” said the judge.

The husband said, “Your honor, she also stole a can of peas.”

What justice should look like, I guess, depends on who does the looking.

I thought about that as I read the story of the man in Washington, D.C., who is suing his former dry cleaners for $67 million. You may have heard about that. It was all over the news.

The plaintiff, by the way, is an administrative judge in D.C. That’s right, a judge. A man sitting on the bench ostensibly to see that justice is done. He is the one suing two hard working Korean Americans for sixty-seven mil, because they lost his “favorite” pair of trousers. See, he wanted to wear those pants on his first day of work as a judge.

Because they were lost, he couldn’t.

And because of that, he alleges in court papers, he endured "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort."

Even though the couple offered to pay him $3,000 (refused) then $4600 (refused) and finally $12,000 (refused), this “judge” has decided he needs $67 million to make up for his lost pants.

I have another solution.

The lawsuit should be summarily dismissed, and a special finding of “legal idiocy” imposed on the plaintiff.

The penalty should be a public pantsing.

A well-attended middle school will be selected, and the school day will begin at the flagpole. A bully will be chosen by lottery. This “judge” will then be trotted out, his hands shackled, and his pants shall be removed by the bully and run up the flagpole.

This will be televised.

And that, my friends, will be justice in this case.

I wish this “judge” had shown the other side of the judicial coin, mercy, to these people. They said they were sorry and they offered to compensate him far beyond his “injury.” Yet he persisted in his vengeful way.

Aren’t you glad God is not like this “judge”? God takes our remorse and turns it into His forgiveness, not petulant wrath. Mercy is what God delights in.

When, in our books, we show characters who are fallen, flawed, struggling, we are set to show God’s mercy in all its glory. Tragedy ensues when characters, offered grace, turn it down (as in many a Flannery O’Connor story).

Either way, there is richness in this vein of mercy. Something lost on a “judge” who decided one day that pants are more important than people.


At 7:53 AM, Blogger Richard L. Mabry, MD said...

Perfect blend of whimsy and common sense, with a core of "gospel truth." Thanks.

At 10:07 AM, Blogger Lynda Meyers said...


Thanks for those thoughts - I love the subject of God's true justice - I just might have to blog some about it too!

Madison Richards

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Kay Day said...

Hear Hear! Everything you said.

At 6:26 PM, Blogger Southern-fried Fiction said...

Jim, that's perfect justice! I absolutely did not believe it when I heard the news story. I hope he gets disbarred.

At 9:50 AM, Blogger Brian Reaves said...

Perfectly put, Jim. Another great post. I think the stronger beauty of a story comes from those moments when a person is offered redemption yet chooses to turn their back on it. It happens all the time in real life, so why don't we allow it to happen more often in Christian fiction?


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