A news report on MyWay, details a story of Chad Johnson’s courtroom experience: a fanny slap, and the subsequent jail sentence.
Football star Chad Johnson may not be aware of the cultural scripts that Judge McHugh determines are appropriate for her courtroom.
Judge McHugh may not be aware of cultural scripts normal to football players. Or she and others may simply find them shocking and inappropriate for the courtroom setting.
I suspect the courtroom laughter was a reaction to discomfort caused by the breaching of cultural norms, and the judge reacted to disorder in her courtroom. Both were reactions to an uncomfortable situation.
It is interesting to understand that it is the judge who has the power (and the privilege to use it) to enforce societal scripts and cultural norms that she (and the majority of mainstream society) determines are the correct ones. Yet she did not do this. Reinforcing what isn’t culturally acceptable is a very different thing than reinforcing what is considered appropriate. The judge might (instead of acting to remove an ‘offender’ from society) have chosen to act intentionally and relationally, and have chosen to restore justice as an alternative to punishment. Seeing through a lens of restoring justice is very different than seeing through a lens of punishing criminals though. Howard Zehr states that our ‘assumptions . . . govern our responses’ and that we need to ‘look to alternative ways of viewing both problem and solution’. This is an interesting thought . . . our assumptions. What we ‘know’ to be true, may simply be assumptions instead?
It is interesting to discover that what we believe might be considered assumptions when we tend to think of these beliefs as self-evident truths. Our western, linear, Euclidean worldview is based on axioms, that we consider ‘self-evident truths’, but I have begun to learn that these ‘truths’ may not be quite so absolute as we might imagine. It is interesting, too, to think about how we form our identities – and this is by thinking in contrasts – ‘us and them’, so to speak. This oppositional and divisive way of thinking creates boundaries and allows for unjust power systems to develop and flourish. Affecting positive social change begins, therefore, by changing the ways in which we perceive ourselves, and consequently, how we interact within our interconnected multi-cultural world.
Referencing the specific domestic violence charge of head-butting in relation to his courtroom behavior, it is clear to see that Mr. Johnson is deeply enculturated into a lifestyle of football customs and behavior. Maybe this is simply because Mr. Johnson spends a great deal of time away from mainstream society, and instead is engulfed in football sub-culture and it’s symbols. I fail to see how the decision to remove Mr. Johnson from society for 30 days will provide justice to Evelyn Lozada, his estranged wife. I also fail to see how jail time will help Mr. Johnson learn cultural and societal norms that may help him to avoid further social problems.
Judge McHugh has the power (and privilege to use it ) to help Mr. Johnson and others (including herself) to learn about the concepts of intercultural miscommunication. Learning how others may misinterpret the messages one sends may be a better solution to restoring justice to those harmed in this situation than simply removing the ‘offender’ from society for 30 days. Changing Lenses and learning how others communicate and understand the world they live in, may help to restore broken relationships, which is key in achieving true social justice.
After reading the MyWay news report, I am left to wonder about the two players who have been harmed in this broken relationship, Evelyn Lozada and Chad Johnson. Did our justice system truly provide the victim, Evelyn Lozada and the offender, Chad Johnson with their just desserts? Might Chad Johnson be a victim also? How? Was anyone else harmed? We can ask again, “Who else might have been harmed? and How?”
Who is responsible for repairing these harms?
These are the important questions we should ask ourselves.
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