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Blindingly obvious

Posted by Lewis on May 26, 2005

In Reply to: Justice is blind posted by David FG on May 22, 2005

: : : : : What's the origin or meaning behind "justice is blind, not deaf"?

: : : : : The traditional visual symbol of "Justice" is a blindfolded woman holding scales and a sword. The scales are for weighing right and wrong; the sword is to punish the guilty; the blindfold is to show that she is impartial (i.e. that she does not treat friends differently from strangers, or high-ranking people better than humble ones, because she does not "see" them). But she is not deaf, because she listens to all the evidence put before her.

: : : That is an 'old wive's tale.' Justice is NOT blindfold.

: : : DFG

: :
: : : In what sense not blindfold, DFG? There are innumerable images of Justice across the Western world where she is depicted blindfold. I agree that she is not invariably so (whereas she always has the sword and scales) and it is possibly a more recent development of her image. But it certainly exists.

: I have to confess that I was thinking of the most famous example (?) which is the one on the top of the Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey) which is not blindfold.

: I apologise for not taking into account other examples.


Some images of the personification of Justice are blindfolded and some have eyes. when blindfolded, that symbolises that Justice should be 'no respector of persons' i.e. not prejudiced. However, because being blindfolded suggests to some that she does not perceive all of the evidence, some illustrators do not use the blindfolded image.

the elements are the scales and the sword - scales symbolising discernment/fair judgement and the sword = power - not simply 'punishment'. the Old Bailey (Central Criminal Court) is a criminal-only court, so the sword appears to symbolise punishment, but Justice generally is about right as well as wrong.


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