Justice is NOT Colorblind
by Saab Lofton
"Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."
--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice can never be attained."
Braille always caused Matt Murdock's fingers to blister. Ever since an accidental dose of toxic waste blinded him as a child, his remaining four senses mutated and elevated to superhuman levels. As a result, he can feel even the faintest impressions of ink on a printed page, which allowed this blind man to read the written word by touch ...
... however, since those senses also allow Murdock to moonlight as the masked vigilante, Daredevil, they remain a secret -- hence the use of Braille, at least in public. So while at work; in the presence of legal colleague, Foggy Nelson, the facade of an invalid must be maintained -- no matter how harrowing it was for such sensitive extremities to scour a coarse surface.
"Can you believe this?" Murdock rhetorically queried. "It says here they're going to execute Davis Troy on September 21st -- my God, that's tomorrow night ..!"
"That's sad, Matt, but the landlord is going to execute us unless we get a high-paying client and fast," Nelson sifted through a stack of unpaid invoices, "I know you can't tell if the lights are on or not, but the rest of us need them to see, so if the power is cut off--"
"--we're Constitutionally guaranteed a speedy trial, but this is ridiculous," Murdock continued unabated despite Nelson's financial concerns, "they railroaded him because he's black and because of those scathing political cartoons of his in The Daily Bugle."
Nelson's brow furrowed with frustration -- not only over being interrupted but at his partner's priorities ... "Goddamn it, Matt! I can't keep dipping into my trust fund to pay the bills while you tilt more windmills! I'm tired of being the Pancho to your Don Quixote!"
"That's Sancho, not Pancho," Murdock corrected, "and unlike Quixote's windmill, this enemy is all too real: According to the A.C.L.U., 'people of color have accounted for a disproportionate 43% of total executions since 1976 and 55% of those currently awaiting execution.' It's sickening in this day and age."
"Matt, the problems of the world aren't going to be solved anytime soon and certainly not by a couple of broke-ass lawyers," Nelson frowned, "speaking of problem solvers, let's see if the Fantastic Four or any of those other costumed freaks of nature we represented -- at a discount, no less -- can help us."
After a thoughtful moment, Nelson's suggestion spurred Murdock to hastily grasp his cell phone. "Of course! Foggy, you're a genius!"
"Well, if you say so ..." Nelson blushed while Murdock dialed.
It took some doing, but Murdock was finally able to reach Reed Richards, the Fantastic Four's elastic leader. "I'm in the middle of a delicate experiment, counselor, what can I do for you?"
"Actually, Doctor Richards, science is the reason I'm calling," Murdock ignored the bewilderment on Nelson's face, "has your team ever made contact with exterrestrials?"
A tense silence passed before Richards answered. "I suppose we have, but--"
"--if you have any evidence of exterrestrial life, then you have a moral obligation to publicly reveal it," Murdock pressed on, "if there's proof we're not alone; that aliens do in fact exist, then that would unite the Human race. The differences between social classes -- the source of so much pain -- would be rendered meaningless."
"Matt, what the Hell are you doing?" Nelson whispered fiercely. "Ask him for greenbacks, not little green men!"
"Mister Murdock, when the Fantastic Four recently faced Galactus, his appearance was dismissed by the press as an elaborate publicity stunt," Richards elucidated over the phone, "which could be an indication that Humanity is in denial or a state of shock. I don't know if it'd be a good idea for us to come forward with what little we know. At least, not yet."
"I see," Murdock grimaced with chagrin, "then I hope the millions of people who suffer from bigotry everyday can wait until you're ready. Goodbye, doctor."
By this point, Nelson was visibly brimming with fury. "Of all the cockamanie ..."
"Stop being so short-sighted," Murdock paused once he noticed the irony of someone sightless saying such a thing, "there's far more at stake than whether our bills are paid: If racism was behind what happened to Davis Troy, then exposing the existence of extraterrestrials could set him free!"
"Uh huh," Nelson donned an overcoat while briskly packing his briefcase, "and if we all sat in a circle singing Kumbaya, maybe Puff the Magic Dragon will make it rain candy! There's being an idealist and there's being clinically insane: Guess which one you are, Matt?"
"Foggy, wait ..." Murdock trailed off as those heightened senses easily discerned that Nelson had stormed out of their storefront office.
With mere hours before Davis Troy's scheduled execution, Matt Murdock began an investigation of his own: From what he could gather, Troy attended a collegiate pool party where the late Marcia MacPhail arrived with one Sylvester Coles. Because MacPhail had chosen style (Coles was spoiled by generations of privilege) over substance (Troy was a self-taught artist of critical acclaim), a heartbroken Troy allegedly raped the young lady and murdered her when she resisted.
Being rejected for a lesser man provided Troy with a motive, but what few dared to mention was how Coles' family business -- a producer of triggers for nuclear weapons -- certainly gained from an absence of satirical caricatures: In illustrations published prior to the crime, Troy had parodied Coles' role in the military-industrial complex.
Matt suspected that MacPhail's colossal lack of taste gave the Cole clan an opportunity to ruin an enemy's reputation: By seducing someone Troy was known to have fallen for, Coles possessed sufficient bait for a trap, which righteous rage over racism in dating had sadly sprung.
The pool party was held in the home of Larry Young, and fortunately, an attorney of Matt Murdock's notoriety had little difficulty insofar as receiving hospitality. Granted, a master of ninjutsu like Daredevil could easily sneak into Young's backyard cabaña where the alleged felonies occurred, but that diabolic costume is most effective (i.e., intimidating to criminals) after dark and time was of the essence.
"Sure, you can have a look around," Young inwardly wondered whether Murdock minded what was just said since the blind are obviously incapable of looking, "but the cops already went through the cabaña with a fine toothed comb."
"Well, thanks for humoring me," Murdock shrugged and grinned ever-so-slightly.
"I like Davis, I really do, but I think he did it," Young lamented, "you should've heard him that night, Mister Murdock: Ranting and raving about how Marcia was a racist for going out with Sylvester instead of him. Yelling about how Sylvester was some 'inbred heir' who still hasn't declared a major--"
"--thank you, Mister Young, I'll take it from here ..." Murdock heavily implied he wanted to be left alone, and eventually, Young caught the hint.
As befitting a crime scene, Young's cabaña remained unscathed; in a state of disarray which indicated that a bitter struggle had ensued. Evidently, whoever sexually assaulted MacPhail had broken her neck in the process, but what the NYPD's CSI Unit couldn't possibly detect was the assailant's scent. "Eau de Cologne Impériale by Guerlain," Murdock murmured to himself, "a fragrance far beyond the price range of a starving artist."
The aforementioned smell, in and of itself, wouldn't have been enough to accuse Coles, but Murdock's marvelous nose also discovered another aroma: Chloroform.
By the time darkness descended upon Manhattan, Sylvester Coles was wallowing in the luxury of his penthouse apartment, and as he sat alone on a sofa in front of a wide screen television, it actually behooved him to laugh at the images of protesters surrounding the prison where Davis Troy would be given a lethal injection. "Beat it, you commies," Coles shouted at the screen, "let the nigger die, already!"
The den Coles languished in had been well lit, until suddenly, the power was severed. With only the light of a full moon to see by, he instinctively summoned the building's private security via a BlackBerry, but an eerie, gravelly voice kept him from concentrating.
"Those anti-death penalty activists you're laughing at are going to Heaven -- you, on the other hand ..."
"Who said that?" Coles stammered.
From out of the shadows stepped forth a crimson figure with impish horns. "I know all your sins, Sylvester."
"I know you were responsible for what happened to Marcia MacPhail," Daredevil growled in an almost feral manner, "Davis Troy testified that he blacked out immediately upon entering the cabaña -- and the prosecutor dismissively attributed this to being consumed with anger, but the fact is you used chloroform on him! It's easy to frame an unconscious man, isn't it?"
Coles cowered into a nearby corner as Daredevil's lean-yet-muscular physique continued to intimidate. "That's not true! I didn't do it!"
With a pair of ears which can hear a whisper on the other side of a standard sound-proofed wall, Daredevil is able to tell a lie from the truth by listening for shifts in a person's heartbeat. "Now I know you're lying! You better confess your sin unless you want to spend the rest of eternity in Hell!"
Recovering (at least somewhat) from the shock of this imposing stranger's appearance, Coles declared, "you're not a demon! You're just another clown in tights like Spider-Man!"
At that exact moment, a security guard silently entered the den and trained a gun on Daredevil. However, without so much as a backwards glance, the red-clad adventurer hurled a billy club (which can double as a blind man's cane when it's disguised) at that guard's head -- instantly rendering the sentry insensible ...
"Your back was turned to him," Coles' eyes widened in astonishment, "how did you know he was there?"
"Because I am a demon," Daredevil lied, "now confess or else!"
Davis Troy was literally minutes away from coming to an unfortunate end when the governor ordered the warden to cancel the execution. The movement to abolish capital punishment considered this a major victory and made Troy's case an example of what's possible when dissent is allowed to be heard.
Taking credit for having vindicated Troy would run the risk of revealing his secret identity, but Matt Murdock did give this speech at a luncheon held by the Bar Association ...
"I hear scientists are replacing their lab rats with lawyers. There are two reasons for this: One, the scientists were starting to get attached to the rats. And two, there are some things even rats won't do," Murdock waited for the audience's chortling to subside before saying anything further, "jokes like those are heard all too often because our reputations proceed us, but it doesn't have to be this way. In fact, it shouldn't. We are who people turn to when they need help; when their lives are on the line and that's how we need to think of ourselves. Not as ravenous swindlers, but as heroes."