The more things change, the more they stay the same. The furor over the downing of MH17 has brought forward the predictable public ire. Blood for blood seems to be the most advocated solution now, and politicians in the Western World are agitating for a fight to make amends.
But hold on a second. One of the fundaments of our legal system is the concept of being innocent until proven guilty. Whenever terrible events like this happen, it seems that this criterion gets thrown out the window to satisfy the desire for retribution.
Consider this opening sentence from a Globe and Mail editorial this morning:
Even without knowing precisely who fired the missile that destroyed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, it is safe to say that the blame for the chaos that has overtaken parts of eastern Ukraine, the area from which a missile was launched at an Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur flight, lies largely at the feet of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Globe admits it doesn’t know how fired the missile, but the blame “lies largely at the feet” of Vladimir Putin? Where is due process, some investigation or fact checking?
Emotions drag people into all sorts of bad decisions. Our thirst for blood after these types of life-taking events often results in more blood in the streets. Consider the American response to invade Afghanistan after 9/11, or the rush into Iraq under the pretense of WMDs. Both were rash decisions made in the heat of the moment, and both had the predictable result of more lost lives and soul searching amongst the belligerents.
I guess those instances are now far in the past.
The processes that define our rule of law are in place for a reason. They stop rash and unwarranted decisions from taking place. Putin or pro-Russian separatists might be to blame for downing of MH17, but it is far too important a fact to glaze over before responding. Collect the evidence, make a compelling case, and then see what action is prudent. That’s the way justice is supposed to be served.