In Ether 14, in the middle of the chaos and war for the Jaredite kingdom, Coriantumr’s rival at that time, named Gilead, makes himself king, but is murdered, but there are conflicting reports on how this happened.
8 Now the brother of Shared, whose name was Gilead, also received great strength to his army, because of secret combinations.
9 And it came to pass that his high priest murdered him as he sat upon his throne.
10 And it came to pass that one of the secret combinations murdered him in a secret pass, and obtained unto himself the kingdom; and his name was Lib; and Lib was a man of great stature, more than any other man among all the people. (Ether 14:8-10)
For a long time I was inclined to think this was saying the high priest murdered Gilead and then Lib murdered the high priest. But now I’m more inclined to think this is actually giving us two conflicting accounts of who killed Gilead.
But why two conflicting accounts? Maybe no one knew who did it.
Was it done by the king’s high priest, or was it done by a secret combination? Or was the high priest part of the secret combination?
Further, not only is there disagreement about who did it, but where it was done. Was it done at the throne or was it done in a secret pass? Where was the king found dead? No one says anything about that.
It seems to me that the supposed murderer in each report is oriented a certain way in the conflict. The king’s high priest is an insider. A secret combination is a group of outsiders. And people would be inclined to accuse people on the other side of crimes done by unknown persons. Coriantumr’s people (outsiders at the time) would say insiders did it because “see, that shows how awful they are; they can’t even trust each other.” Gilead’s people (insiders at the time) would say outsiders did it because “see, that shows how awful they are; they can’t stand for anyone but their own guy to be in charge.” Each side constructs an explanation to serve their own ends.
And with things as chaotic as they were, would there be any chance for justice to investigate and grind out the real answer? Not likely. Who would do it when they’re still fighting over who’s in charge? Who is going to be accepted as the authority to investigate and execute justice? Probably no one. Thus, there would always be conflicting reports. Each side probably used it to demonize the other.
And Ether, unwilling to favor either side, simply gives both sides.
So this little incident shows us that justice has not just broken down for the little guy, but also for the big important people. Nobody, not even the king, can get justice because everyone wants to escape it. Mysterious deaths remain unsolved, and people just use them to whip up animosity for their enemies.
This is the kind of thing that makes me really appreciate having a justice system with civil rights. I’m sure there are people that can point to incidents of injustice and faults in the system, but in comparison to awful anarchy at the end of Jaredite society, we have a lot to be grateful for. At least we have a system that works on the whole.