Justice For All

Atheists have our own ideas about what is just and what is unjust.  This group will explore the elusive concept of justice.  Topics include racial injustice, death penalty, imprisonment, crime, and other aspects of justice in modern society and in history.  Without gods, what is the basis for justice?  What do humanists and others say about justice?  What do you think about current controversies and cases regarding justice or injustice?

Members: 43
Latest Activity: Sep 23


Troy Davis's photo was chosen as this original icon for this group.  Davis symbolized inequality of justice in the US.  At the time of his execution, 9/21/11, the evidence supporting his conviction was flimsy.  There was known evidence supporting his innocence.  He was executed anyway. Since then the icon is changed to represent justice in general.


There are different nontheist points of view about justice, punishment, penalties, death penalty.   There is strong support for retribution and execution in the theist community (in the US).


What serves as "justice" is not distributed evenly across communities.  The most egregious injustice has strong racial overtones.  If you would like to read about, and discuss justice, what it is, who gets justice, and who doesn't, and stories relevant to this topic, please join and contribute to the discussions.


Resources  factsheet.  main page  executed possibly innocent

amnestyUSA death penalty information

death row population (CNN)  sept 2011.

innocence project.  The innocent and the death penalty.

innocence project Wikipedia discussion

California innocence project

Chicago innocence project

Georgia innocence project


Discussion Forum

Debtors Prison for Kids

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Joan Denoo Sep 23. 7 Replies

Your DNA could be found on a weapon you never touched

Started by Grinning Cat. Last reply by Ruth Anthony-Gardner Nov 4, 2015. 7 Replies

Climate Change hinders prison reform in CA

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Donald R Barbera Oct 22, 2015. 1 Reply

In the US, victims pay corporate criminals through taxes

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Ruth Anthony-Gardner Oct 15, 2015. 2 Replies

Justice for the elderly - hah

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner Apr 19, 2015. 0 Replies

On Burying the Torture Report

Started by Bertold Brautigan. Last reply by Daniel Wachenheim Dec 9, 2014. 3 Replies

Black Panic

Started by Daniel Wachenheim. Last reply by k.h. ky Sep 4, 2014. 7 Replies

RSS for ThinkProgress/Justice

Comment Wall


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Comment by Daniel Wachenheim on May 15, 2012 at 12:23pm

Now that the media  15-minutes of interest is passed, it will be difficult to follow the Trayvon Martin case until there is a trial.  Feds considering hate crime charge, which could include death penalty if found guilty.  video here.  I wonder - even if he was not conscious of his profiling / phobia, it doesn't mean it's not there.  If subconscious  "black phobia", would that make him less culpable than if conscious?  I think there is a point where there is social responsibility.  The "young black man in a hoodie" scaremongering needs to be debunked regardless of whether Zimmerman stands trial for hate crime.

Comment by Daniel Wachenheim on May 3, 2012 at 3:42pm

Not sure what to say about this situation.  Nov 19th, 2011, Robert Champion was beat to death in a college band hazing incident.  He was 26 years old.  This petition is closed due to being too old.  It does not appear that hate crime charges, or civil rights violations have been filed.   Sadly, his attorney appears so antigay he can't even say "gay" - he says "Robert had a sexual orientation" and "Robert had a lifestyle", and only on being asked about his "sexuality".  His statement is the beating death was possibly retaliatory because Robert was antihazing, not gay.  Either way, he's dead.  What was the real motivation.....  well, for me, I didn't just fall off the turnip truck last week, so I can guess.  But I was also not a fly on the wall on that deadly bus ride.  Makes me sick.



video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Comment by Daniel Wachenheim on May 1, 2012 at 10:32pm

On exonerations - "Since 1973, there have been 140 people in 26 states released from death row with evidence of their innocence"

Death Penalty Information Center

also of interest - executions despite doubts of guilt.  Imagine what it must be like, to be headed to your execution, all the while knowing you did not commit the crime!

Comment by Daniel Wachenheim on April 22, 2012 at 6:41pm

No surprise, I'm sure, but Texas has the most executions.  I don't know what that means - there are other states with as conservative politics.  There is a predominance of executions in the US Southeast.  The article does not speculate about underlying causes, or about potential solutions.


32 states have had no executions in the past 5 years.


It's interesting to read the comments associated with the article. 

Comment by Daniel Wachenheim on April 21, 2012 at 1:02pm

I guess that's why I'm not a philosopher.  I spend a lot of time trying to convince people to do things they are not motivated to do - quit smoking, take their pills, eat better, be responsible, quit listening to woo woo.  If they don't have the ability to make choices, it seems even more futile.  But people do sometimes make changes.  Maybe we need an expression other than "free will."   I don't think there is  soul or that we are not part of nature, but we still make decisions.  We are not automatons.

Comment by annet on April 21, 2012 at 12:53pm

I know what  you mean Sentient, the notion of free will is pretty nebulous. But it seems to assume a human exceptionalism.  Like we can outsmart nature and are somehow separate from it.

We want to think our choices matter and that they are "ours" (aka a soul) rather than a product of our biology. 

It reminds me of Oliver Sachs and "the man who mistook his wife for a hat" .  

Comment by Daniel Wachenheim on April 21, 2012 at 11:18am

AnneT, I too will never have curly hair (or any hair to speak of), be a dancer, or a lot of other things.  So it's true that there is an environment, physical/genetic/social/mental/financial/emotional that we all live in and decides many things for us.  But I can decide whether to be mean to someone, or whether to eat those french fries (especially the rosemary shoestring fries at Burgerville), or whether to go out with a gun and follow that guy with a hoodie in my neighborhood.  Or that animal that just killed my best chicken, but that's another story.  Honestly, I don't know what "free will" really is, but I do make decisions.  We can always say, "I made those decisions because of my inborn temperament, and how I was raised, and my nutrition, and my genome" and that's true, but a piece of that is that we are all human beings with thinking brains, and can still make choices within the constraints and opportunities of our existence.  That's where I think "free will" is an impossible concept, because even if everything has a cause outside us, we still have choices.


Oh yes, "You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars." and I also like the thought that we are all made of stardust, and one day will be stardust again.  Or compost.  I like that I might someday nourish a tree.

Comment by annet on April 21, 2012 at 10:34am

Funny you should say that Sentient, I've struggled to understand free will as described in naturalism.  I recently settled on a personal definition that uses roads as an analogy for evolution.  i.e.: If free will is all the roads any living thing can take, we are in reality limited to a few of those myriad roads due to biology and circumstance. Examples of these limitations:  I'll never be a dancer, have curly hair or understand the mind of a suicide bomber.  Along the road created for us by nature, we can turn left and right or go faster or slower, serve others, go to war, cure cancer, watch tv, or infinite other ways to vary the journey (choices), but we aren't going to be able to leave the road.  Our road choices are limited by nature.  Bottom line: Evolution is really in charge, not free will. 

This may not be the standard definition but it is how I understand it right now. 

I know this is atheist blasphemy because the word god appears in it but lately I get a sense of peace from the poem desiderata.  For me it is a sort of naturalist manifesto.

Comment by Daniel Wachenheim on April 21, 2012 at 9:26am

Anne, for what it's worth, I have no idea what free will is or why it makes a difference in the real world.  We make choices every minute.  I'm not much of a philosopher. There are lots of things we can't choose.  But we also make decisions and have the ability to change directions.

Comment by annet on April 20, 2012 at 11:16pm

Sorry about that Sentient, had to share my righteous indignation. But thanks to pondering our lack of free will, I don't feel as bad about it as I used to.  Not having free will is really liberating.  lol.


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