The state and sense of justice
These words belong to the U.S. statesman Alexander Hamilton, whose portrait is on the 10-dollar bill: “Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of man will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.”
I am quoting Hamilton because he has brilliantly summed up the concepts of “government/state, wisdom, justice and constraint” in a perfect way.
We, ordinary citizens grant the state (with all its institutions) and the governments whose formation we contribute to through democratic elections, the power to protect our rights more than the rights of those across our borders. We expect every step the state takes to be in reason and within the sense of justice.
Now take a look at the following examples:
On Sept. 18, 2016, a person named Abdullah Çakıroğlu hit Ayşegül Terzi with a flying kick on a public bus because he was annoyed with the shorts she was wearing. Unbelievable, right? We naturally expected the state to take a step so that a similar incident would not occur once more. Police detained Çakıroğlu, but the judiciary released him. Our reason, our conscious and sense of justice could not accept this decision. We raised our voices and protested. He was arrested. While we thought justice was served, Çakıroğlu was released at the first hearing on Sept. 26, 2016. We again grumbled; the reactions snowballed. Çakıroğlu was arrested again on Sept. 29, 2016.
On Dec. 13, 2016, in the Turgutlu district of the Aegean province of Manisa, Ebru Tireli, who was four months pregnant, was exercising when she was attacked by a person named only as Davut K. We expected the state to take a step. He was arrested and sent to prison. We were relieved. This pleasure lasted until Feb. 3, 2017. The court decided to release him. Thankfully, he had a previous charge for abusing a child that kept him in prison.
On Nov. 29, 2016, a caller to the Prime Ministry Communications Center (BİMER) claimed that the principal of a high school in Haymana was harassing boys at the dormitory. On Jan. 20, the Haymana Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation but until daily BirGün reported the claim on Feb. 12, the principal, S.K., was subjected to no restrictions. On Feb. 14, he was detained but released one day later. When reaction grew, he gave an additional statement on Feb. 18 and was arrested.
A person named Mehmet Ali Aligül torched the Müjdat Gezen Art Center last week. It caused a huge public indignation. He was not sorry. He did not hide his rage. Despite that, he was released. Despite the crime he committed, his rage and his tendency for violence, he returned to normal life and rejoined society. He was going to continue driving a school shuttle but, then again, social reaction ensured a result. He was arrested when reactions soared.
According to the latest changes introduced to the law, burglars, those who have committed crimes causing injury, scammers and swindlers will be transferred to open prisons if they have less than 10 years to serve. With the state’s permission, they will be wandering among us on weekends. Meanwhile, certain journalists, whose freedom of expression should be protected and assured by the state, will count their days in the state’s F-type prisons.
Nevertheless, we should retain our sense of justice and continue to expect that the state will constrain those who do not comply with the rules of reason and justice and who overstep their boundaries, instead of restricting freedoms.