"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Enron convictions

While I am no legal expert, the conviction of former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling seems just to me. The Houston Chronicle, a paper I generally trust, has reported what I need to know about the case and summed up the consensus of the commentariat. But in any legal system, even one as relatively fastidious as our own, injustice will be done, and one may well argue that it's pointless to pretend that law and punishment are primarily about justice. It is philosophically absorbing to discuss the extent to which law and punishment should be about justice; but the fact is that they are often more about other things: deterrence, revenge, competing values, the predilections of the powerful, and just plain money. Indeed, many illegal practices and outrageous injustices go unpunished simply because their victims cannot afford what is called "justice." All of the above motivated the government's case against Enron's leadership, of whom the very top have now had their day of reckoning. The reassuring thing is that none of them seemed to militate against justice. Even my cynical old self can drink to that.
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