Friday, January 9, 2009

Bring to Justice

One of my pet peeves is the phrase "bring to justice."

First, it's just a clunky, inexact phrase. Technically, it just means to set a proper punishment, but more often, I think the phrase is used as a euphemism for killing someone who has committed a crime the speaker finds particularly egregious. The first instance of this usage that really sticks out in my mind is when President Bush vowed to "bring to justice" the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks.

The wording smacks of Wild West–style vengeance rather than civilized law and order. Saying it almost allows you to play the role of grand hero, instead of facing up to the realistic facts of the situation. "Bring to justice" is not a plan or a way to deal with criminals.

I'm trying to track down the exact origins of the phrase, but the first time I remember it being used in political/civic circles was in fact with George W. Bush after 9/11. Does anyone know where and when this phrase actually came from though?

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