The Barometer was awaiting the opening of the doors to the mighty Planet Fitness gym, you know, the alleged “Judgement-free zone.” The English spelling of “Judgment” in the United States will not be corrected because as a Planet Fitness manager responded to the Barometer as she raised the issue, “It was judgmental to point out a spelling error.” Ah, alert the National Spelling Bee folks for the rules must change.
A gentleman also awaiting fitness on his own planet began espousing his political views, as he always does when we are found together at the locked door. He explained to us that New York was going to indict Trump and his company and added, “I hope he goes to jail and that they lock him up for life.” Seemed a little harsh for an income tax issue involving executive perquisites. And Trump was not the one who got the perks.
Then came the New York Racing Commission banishing Bob Baffert from racing in New York because of allegations of cheating (i.e., his winning horse in the Kentucky Derby had banned substances that showed up in a post-race drug test). Bob Baffert is one who gets as close to the line as a human being can get and sometimes his toes cross over that line. His autobiographical book has some frightening admissions about his behaviors in the climb to the top. The worst part about the admissions is that he seems to have no self-awareness that his book includes such admissions.
Nonetheless, a New York court has lifted the Baffert suspension because he was suspended without a chance to be heard. Like the Planet-Fitness zealot, emotions often kick in and the powerful and those who wish they had power want those they believe to be bad out and now! Baffert was banned without an evidentiary hearing. He was banned because so many in the sport have strong feelings about him and allegations of his cheating. Off with his head!
There are similar (stronger?) feelings about former President Trump. He is already out of office but many want him banished from life for life. In the words of so many defenders of rights in different context, “This is not who we are.”
This is a nation of due process. This is a nation that subscribes to the notion Benjamin Franklin articulated as follows, “That it is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer.” Franklin called it “a Maxim that has been long and generally approved.” He was referring to similar statements by Voltaire and Blackstone (although Blackstone limited his swath to ten going free).
A longstanding maxim across religions and ethics scholars is that we should treat others as we would want to be treated. Regardless of what Baffert or Trump may or may not have done, they need their chances to be heard. That chance to be heard is a small price for a society to pay to be certain that they are not mistaken in their perceptions and beliefs. Due process is the protection against emotional swings that pass judgment without even being willing to listen to the defenses, explanations, or facts those charged wish to share.