Selective justice (KOR)

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Selective justice (KOR)

The author is a deputy political team editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Appearing before the National Assembly’s Public Administration and Security Committee’s interpellation session to testify last Friday, Lim Eun-jeong, a senior prosecutor at the Ulsan District Prosecutors’ Office, said, “There are so many cases that are investigated if the prosecutor general wants to dig and kill and just as many that are not indicted for a lack of evidence if the prosecutor general is determined to cover up.” She also claimed that “selective justice distorts legal justice.”

She meant that the prosecution’s investigation of the Cho Kuk scandal was a selective investigation and went against justice. Hanyang University School of Law professor Park Chan-un wrote on Facebook that the investigation on Justice Minister Cho was an abuse of prosecutors’ investigative power to kill a certain person. He expressed his anger on selective justice. Last month, a poster was put up at Seoul National University, claiming that selective justice is advocated, ignoring greater social contradiction. It opposed the protesters’ calls for Cho to step down.

Being furious at the prosecution’s investigation of Cho is linked to the rhetoric of the democratization activists in the 1980s. They argued that trivial internal wrongdoings could be condoned in order to stand against the greater evil of military dictatorships. The group sentiment based on the dichotomy of good versus evil was strong. When it added up to serious gender discrimination and personal infringement, they had to keep quiet before the violent justification of “greater justice.”

What about the following case? The photo and identity of the female prosecutor involved in the raid of Cho’s residence were disclosed. Some online comments disparaged her appearance as “she looks anti-government” or “a cake fallen from the rooftop.” It was obviously misogynistic.

But women’s groups, including the National Women’s Solidarity, remained silent. They had sensitively responded to misogyny issues, including when the opposition Liberty Korea Party’s floor leader Na Kyung-won called President Moon Jae-in’s supporters “prostitutes.” But this time, those liberal women’s groups kept mum even when their members committed cyber terrorism on the female prosecutor who searched Justice Minister Cho’s residence. Isn’t this selective justice?

U.S. political philosopher John Rowls wrote in “A Theory of Justice” that the theory of fairness was the first principle. Those who advocate justice while neglecting universality may be the most unjust villains.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 10, Page 31

선택적 정의 최민우 정치팀 차장

4일 국회 행안위 국감장에 참고인으로 출석한 임은정 울산지검 부장검사는 “검찰총장이 파서 죽여버려야겠다고 생각하면 수사하고, 덮으려고 결심하면 증거 없다고 불기소하는 사건이 얼마나 많겠나”라며 “선택적 정의는 사법 정의를 왜곡시킨다”라고 주장했다. 조국 관련 수사가 선택적 수사라 정의에 반한다는 취지였다. 박찬운 한양대 법학전문대학원 교수도 페이스북에 “(조국) 수사는 아무리 보아도 한 사람을 죽이기 위한 검찰의 수사권 남용”이라며 “선택적 정의에 분노함”이라고 올렸다. 지난달 서울대에서도 “더 큰 사회적 모순을 외면한 채 선택적 정의를 외치고 있다”라는 대자보가 붙었다. 조국 퇴진 촛불 집회에 반대한다는 취지였다.
조국을 향한 비판이나 수사를 ‘선택적 정의’라며 분노하는 건, 따지고 보면 80년대 운동권 논리와 일맥상통한다. “군부독재라는 거악에 맞서려면 자잘한 내부 부조리는 눈감아야 한다”라는 주장 말이다. 이분법적인 선악에 기초한 집단주의는 실로 막강했다. 그게 쌓여 심각한 성차별과 인격침해를 야기해도 ‘더 큰 정의’라는 폭력적 명분 앞에 그저 숨을 죽여야 했다.
다음 사안은 어떨까. 조국 자택 압수수색에 관여했던 여검사의 사진ㆍ신상이 털렸다. 일부 네티즌은 ”반정부하게 생겼다“ ”옥상에게 떨어진 개떡” 등 외모 비하를 서슴지 않았다. 명백한 ‘여성 혐오’였다. 하지만 나경원의 '달창' 발언에 곧장 사퇴하라며 ‘여혐’ 이슈에 민감하게 반응했던 전국여성연대 등 여성 단체는 침묵했다. 사이버 테러를 저지른 이들이 ‘내 편’이라서다. 이게 바로 선택적 정의 아닐까.
미국의 사회철학자 존 롤스는 『정의론』에서 평등의 원리를 정의의 제1원칙으로 꼽았다. 보편성을 외면한 채 정의를 외치는 이들이야말로 가장 정의롭지 못한 악당일지 모른다.
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