Modern day society is not as far off from the world of ancient Mesopotamia then I originally thought. When I first thought of the pre-modern world I coincided it with being barbaric and unruly compared to the present day America I live in. However, social and economic status still plays a very prevalent part in the American legal system like it did during ancient Mesopotamian period.
The Code of Hammurabi is very precise in the way it describes how punishments should be given out to different social classes. For example there is very harsh consequences for injuring a free man compared to a peasant at the time: “If a man has destroyed the eye of another free, his own eye shall be destroyed” compared to “If he has destroyed the eye of a peasant or broken a bone of the peasant, he shall pay one mina of silver.” While our legal system is much different than taking an eye for an eye, we are much more similar to this divide in social class than we might think. A lot of the Turmoil that occurs in the United States is due to the divide between upper class and minorities.
Brock Turner is an example of how many individuals of higher class are treated differently in court to some minorities. This man raped an unconscious woman and only had to serve three months time for it. He was a white athlete attending Stanford University who came from a wealthy background and was described in his trial as “humble, hard-working, gracious, thoughtful, charming, an AP student, a talented swimmer who loved to cook.” Somehow being only nineteen with a full life ahead of him was suddenly an excuse for raping someone. There is study published in Sociology of Sport Journal in 1997 that discovered “that even though athletes are more likely to be arrested for sexual assault than the general population, they are less likely to be convicted.” There are currently so many stories being shared of similar situations where individuals are getting away with rape becuase of their social status.
While Brock Turner only received three months time, a man named Corey Batey is looking at at least fifteen to twenty-five years for raping a women. He is a black man who was playing football at Vanderbilt University. Why is it that the legal system is allowing this to happen? Is the difference of the color of their skin really the only difference that will allow them to live very different lives for the same crime?
In order to realistically improve the system there needs to be a joint effort in making sure a limited amount of time must be served for every case no matter the gender, race, age, or economic class of the individual. Brock turner served enough time for a misdemeanor when he committed three felonies. The United States courts are failing as a legal system when they allow this to happen. It is time to move past the primitive behavior that was once acceptable in the time of Ancient Mesopotamia.
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Code of Hammurabi