by J.M. Coetzee
Disgrace Justice and Judgment Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"All eyes are on the university to see how we handle it. I get the impression, listening to you, David, that you believe you are being treated unfairly. That is quite mistaken. We on this committee see ourselves as trying to work out a compromise which will allow you to keep your job. That is why I ask whether there is not a form of public statement that you could live with and that would allow us to recommend something less than the most severe sanction, namely, dismissal with censure." (6.74)
Here, we see that justice at Cape Technical University isn't cut and dry. For David, getting off the hook doesn't just entail winning over the committee and convincing them that he didn't misbehave; it also involves swaying the whole community in a very public, self-effacing way.
"David, I can't go on protecting you from yourself. I am tired of it, and so is the rest of the committee. Do you want time to rethink?"
"Very well. Then I can only say, you will be hearing from the Rector." (6.140-142)
Why do you think David is so averse to making a public statement of guilt? Here, watching David is like watching a car wreck in slow motion. We know what he's getting himself into – he's definitely going to lose his job – but he doesn't do anything to stop it.
"It reminds me too much of Mao's China. Recantation, self-criticism, public apology. I'm old-fashioned, I would prefer simply to be put against a wall and shot. Have done with it."
"Shot? For having an affair with a student? A bit extreme, don't you think, David? It must go on all the time. It certainly went on when I was a student. If they prosecuted every case the profession would be decimated."
He shrugs. "These are puritanical times. Private life is public business. Prurience is respectable, prurience and sentiment. They wanted a spectacle: breast-beating, remorse, tears if possible. A TV show, in fact. I wouldn't oblige." (7.85-87)
In this instance, David seems to feel like he was judged without justice. He sees his punishment as being part of a public relations circus that had nothing to do with what was right and what was wrong.