Justice is always uncomfortable for criminals. However, to keep a society of order, it is necessary that this justice is carried out with courage. When justice seems fragile, uncertain, and self-questioning, the criminal wins. They no longer have to fear.
If you are looking for an example, our library is an excellent illustration of an institution that has become incapable of executing justice.
Recently, I have been doing research on Dostoevsky and have run into trouble finding an essential book. The Cambridge Introduction to Russian Literature contains many important articles and essays on Dostoevsky and his contemporaries.
Unfortunately, it has been checked out for much longer than a month, and it would seem that the librarians I have spoken to have no inclination to track down the person who, at least as I’m writing this article, has not yet had the decency to bring it back.
It is important to ask ourselves about the place of duty in these situations. Duty often manifests itself in institutions, and it is only with the assurance of duty that we can have justice. The duty of a teacher is to teach, to treat students on equal terms, and to mark and grade their assessments. The teacher does not need to reflect upon their duty, they only need to do it.
When these duties are violated, the system of justice, as it relates to this particular sphere (that of education) begins to crumble.
The duty of a librarian is manifold, but of primary importance is their assurance that the library is stocked with books. That these books can be expected back in a timely manner is also of importance. They only occupy their position insofar as they can see this duty satisfied. Again, they do not need to question, only to do.
However, we are very timid about executing these duties, and we allow justice to slide under the rug. The contemporary idea, manifested in our dealings with the poor and the criminal, is that no one is responsible for their situation. This has meant that the librarian refrains from executing their duty in their full capacity.
It is integral, that those who commit infractions, even in institutions affecting only some thousand or so users, are held responsible. The fines, in accordance with the librarian’s duty, should make sure that all the library’s books are returned in a timely manner. It is not their duty to show leniency.
If these fines, or even punishments, disturb the fined, they should be aware that they were conscious of their own responsibility and violated it. They were also conscious of any punishment that will come their way.
They have no one to blame but themselves.
Written by: Boethius Diogenes