Monday, November 17, 2008

Citizens Clobber Klan

The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan suffered a potentially serious economic blow when a not-really-an-illegal-alien-after-all (an American of Native-American and Panamanian descent) victim of a serious 2006 Klan beating was awarded by an all-White jury a verdict finding him entitled to $2.5 million in damages.

The Klan's freedom to assemble cannot be lawfully barred, but the likelihood that the judgment will be levied against the the group's 15-acre compound threatens to reduce the local Klan chapter's convenience in conducting identity-building ceremonies, indoctrination rituals, and creating a feeling of reassurance that one is surrounded on all sides by likeminded believers.

People who think jury awards are somehow out of hand haven't been paying attention. Without juries to see the right of cases, we'd have to cede justice to an entrenched bureaucracy. Without punitive damages, people could commit calculated evils for fun or profit and remain safe from serious consequences so long as they were careful in selecting their victims. This Klan verdict is a reminder that there are evils in the world -- old-time evils we would like to think long laid to rest -- and that we need juries to spot when the line has been crossed and the public should inflict a punishemnt designed not only to repay injured parties for their medical bills, but to reform behavior for future generations, to protect victims who would suffer if the same calculations that caused earlier injury were not derailed and replaced with something more concerned about the welfare of others.

I doubt the $2.5 million judgment will be satisfied in full, but it'll likely be enough to ensure that all the organization's high-profile, hard-to-hide assets are transferred to parties aligned with the defendants' victims.

No comments: