Imagining Justice

I am not, by nature, a violent or vindictive person. Though I may rage at times against the injustice and inhumanity and incompetence that I witness around me, I thankfully seem to possess sufficient self-restraint and judgment not to act out the anger, frustration, and despair that such circumstances can evoke—at least, not physically. Of course, being human and not wishing to bottle up all my feelings, I do occasionally indulge myself in vengeful imaginings. It’s a healthy tonic for these moronic times (and, apparently, still legal in 38 states). There’s nothing like a little darkly retributive fantasy to put a spring in your step.

So what should greet my eyes like a rude poke today but news that the American death toll in Iraq for the month of October has reached 100, making it “the fourth deadliest month for American troops since the war began in March 2003�? Meanwhile, as the blood of these brave young soldiers seeps into foreign soil, the second coming of the Three Stooges—Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld—continue to insist, despite all evidence to the contrary, that there is “a plan for victory� and “the outcome is certain. We’ll prevail.� What a load of horse manure! They can attempt to cover or pretty it up all they want, but, at the end of the day, it still smells like crap and draws flies. Such glib assurances from those who, by proxy, wreak horrible death and destruction anger me deeply.

And then I happened to read a news story about “an inmate accused of forcibly tattooing a slain 10-year-old girl’s name onto her killer’s forehead in an Indiana prison.� While I do not approve of such vigilante justice, this event led me down a dim corridor to an intriguing revenge fantasy, which, if acted out, might look something like this:

President Bush shows off the first of what will be thousands of tattooed names

Should the Democrats gain control of the House and Senate, perhaps they ought consider—as an alternative to impeaching President Bush and his fellow scofflaws—forcibly tattooing them with the names of all the fallen. Their punishment would be to endure this process and thereafter to serve as living memorials to the thousands of Americans who nobly gave their lives for a less than noble cause. Doesn’t that seem fair?

Of course, this is little more than fanciful musing. Nonetheless, to quote Robert Frost, such imagining “has given my heart / a change of mood / and saved some part / of a day I had rued.�