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Listen to Obama's speech on the issue. It's targeted to calm the average American. Listen to the word he uses to characterize the administration's response: justice. What does "justice" mean in this context? It means nothing other than the government's response to activity that threatens social stability and psychologically remedy the injuries created by actions that upset social stability.

What does the War in Iraq or having to remove one's shoes before boarding an aircraft have to do with justice?

I don't think anyone is making the argument that there should be no justice. Prosecuting the criminals who commit murder for the purpose of terrorism is clearly a "no reasonable person could disagree" sort of a thing.

But the question remains, how is justice won? In theory we could impose martial law and suspend elections, or permanently shut all the roads and trains and prohibit gatherings of more than five people in the same place, or nuke the entire middle east. Perhaps doing those things could bring justice to more terrorists.

Well before we reach that point, we come to a line we should not cross. We come to a choice that will cost us more of our humanity than it gains us in justice. And whipping the public into a frenzy is how popular support for crossing the line we should not cross is manufactured.

All that is really irrelevant to my point, whixh is that the nature of the word "justice" shows that people are concerned about social order, not just the individual likelihood of being killed. One can argue about the extent to which any given response helps maintain order.

That's why people care about "justice" for murderers even though more people are killed by auto accidents. Murder upsets the social order. A car accident doesn't.

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