Why do we use justice as a euphemism for death? I still count myself a pacifist, but lately I’ve been sympathizing with an unusual number of calls for blood, from people other than trained medical personnel. What I truly want is for the pictures of a dazed survivor or the words of a fabulous poet to spread gently over the world and into the hearts of all the Bad Men, so that they become sorry and promise never to do it again. For everyone who has caused suffering to spend the rest of their lives working in good faith to repair it – that would be justice. Killing the Bad Men, no matter how necessary it might be, is not justice; it’s merely more killing. And yet, and yet, it takes away some of the sting of powerlessness, and isn’t that important, too?

Well, not really, no, it’s not. Not in the grand scheme of things at all.

[… an edited-in addition to this post, because somehow, what’s on top deserves to stay there for a little while longer. c. 0400 the same night.]

I opened up my email this evening to see the following gem from David Baltimore, Nobel laureate and president of Caltech: “Each person in the Caltech community should remember that we work for a greater good that terrorism cannot touch, the enlightenment produced by discovery and learning.” The rest of it, loosely translated, reads “so get back to work, bitch.” A firm belief in the ultimate triumph of applied topology notwithstanding, it seemed a bit callous (not to mention inaccurate, but that’s a debate for another day) and I was nonplussed.

But I think this will be my last post on america-go-boom. I’ve had my release, the important things have all been said, it’s time to yield the floor to those with more legitimate personal involvement. And oh yes, get back to work, bitch.

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