Vigilante Justice Essay
Justice is said to be blind. Perhaps it is due to this maxim that Troy Duffy’s film Boondock Saints is so recognized to explore this concept of blind justice and thereby refute it. The brothers Murphy and Conner in the film receive a calling from God in a jail cell (a place they asked to stay in after their battle with the Russian mafia and a place the Boston police precinct allowed for them to stay in so as to avoid the reporters). The motif of the film is situated in the prayer the brothers say over the evil men they have eliminated it goes as follows,
“And Shepherds we shall be For thee, my Lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from Thy hand Our feet may swiftly carry out Thy commands. So we shall flow a river forth to Thee And teeming with souls shall it ever be. In Nomeni Patri Et Fili Spiritus Sancti. ” (Boondock Saints). The brothers then not only envision themselves as eliminating the world of evil men, but by being sanctioned by God on this path as can be denoted from their ‘Family Prayer’ which ends with the Catholic blessing “In the Name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.
I believe that the brothers are right in their decision to take law into their own hands. Many people throughout history and in biblical texts have felt a calling from God to do certain vocations in life. Many have disputed the reality of saints and deny the existence of their communication with God. This is evidenced by Joan of Arc who was burnt at the stake for saying that she talked to God and that God told her to give France back to the King and it is seen in this fictional movie when the documentary at the end of the film asks for people’s opinions about the Saint’s work.
Despite these naysayers against ridding the world of evil, what is truly of importance is the line from the movie told at the beginning sequence from the priest of the brother’s Catholic Church. The priests says that it is evil for a good man to do nothing, and in this statement is where vigilante justice rings true. When good people choose to do nothing it breeds chaos and disrepair to society.
One case in particular occurred in New York in the 1960’s when a woman was raped and murdered in broad daylight and she continually yelled out for help to the people in their apartment buildings and no one came to help her. These people were not evil people, were not criminals in the least but working class men and women, but their choice to do nothing lead to this woman’s murder. I believe that is the point that Troy Duffy is making in his movie and the point which makes vigilante justice permissible.
When a good person does nothing in the face of evil, evil wins, so what is the point of being a good person who does nothing? There are Good Samaritan laws that protect people who try to help others so there should be laws in place for people who are trying to help themselves. For instance, if someone is mugging me I’d like to defend myself and not get in trouble with the law for protecting my own body. One major factor that influences my decision in supporting vigilante justice is family. When family is involved in a decision the law ceases to apply.
When a family is hurt or harmed or threatened to be harmed the law –which doesn’t have an emotional investment in other people’s family members- won’t do as much to help that person and their family. I know that this sounds like the mafia, but if someone were to hurt my mother I would go after them and wouldn’t feel guilty or remorseful for having done so because family is a higher calling than law just as God is a higher calling than law. On this point alone I would support vigilante justice because those people are only trying to save other people’s moms, brothers, fathers, sisters, etc.
What is strange to me is that America has the militia that in case a government becomes corrupt minutemen around the country will take up arms to bring the government back to justice, however if these same minutemen take up arms against an injustice against their family they are considered to be criminals. One does not sanction the other and I strongly feel that this is wrong. The brother in the movie saw that his twin was going to be massacred by the Russian mob and therefore sought to prevent it and the only prevention that was reasonable was to kill the Russians.
Once this occurred they got their calling from God and so set forth to save other people’s families from living in fear of someone trying to kill them, mug them, steal from them or in general cause their lives to be ruined by crime. In this capacity of saving families I am all for vigilante justice. Works Cited Boondock Saints. Dir. Troy Duffy. William Dafoe. Sean Patrick Flanery. Norman Reedus. Franchise Pictures. Boston Massachusetts. 1999. Flannery, Amos. Vigilante Justice. American Journal of Crime. Vol. 5 No. 1. (June 1998). Pp. 7-9.