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collective illusions

2007-06-20 17:18:45.236862+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

At some point recently Eric rightly called me out for my usual whining about "the legal system", because I wasn't really whining about the system, which seems to be pretty good as such things go, but about the legislative system or about a particular judge.

Government is an illusion in the mind of the governed, it only exists so long as we maintain this consensual hallucination in the rules and procedures that make up a lawful society. When that breaks down, we end up with mobs.

So it was bad enough to read yesterday that Antonin Scalia praised the illegal actions of the fictional character Jack Bauer:

"Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?" Judge Scalia challenged his fellow judges. "Say that criminal law is against him? 'You have the right to a jury trial?' Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so.

"So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes."

I'd like to read a more in-depth article on the discussions that ensued, but today I read that a Texas mob killed the man who was trying to protect a driver in an accident that injured a child. "The child was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries." The driver is cooperating with police.

David Rivas Morales, the man who stood up for due process, is dead.

[ related topics: Law Law Enforcement ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-20 17:54:59.903952+00 by: ebradway [edit history]

Damn... Scalia has a screw loose. I usually find the greatest respect for Supreme Court Justices but this one is completely out of control.

The fictional character, Jack Bauer, saved a fictional Los Angeles from a fictional terrorist attack by using what should be fictional interrogation techniques. The problem is in non-fictional scenarios, it has been proven that torture does not yield valid information. That means if Jack Bauer were non-fictional and it was a non-fictional terrorist attack scenario, the likely fictional information yielded by torture would NOT have saved the non-fictional Los Angeles.

But our government, at all levels, has always had trouble separating fiction from non-fiction when it comes to matters of security.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-20 20:21:23.907726+00 by: Dan Lyke

And my thought is that, even if we assume all of the TV show as fact, it's certainly not up to a judge to pass judgement on the actions of "Jack Bauer". The prosecutor may choose to not bring charges (and face the consequences at the polls), the jury may choose to acquit despite the law (I assume we all remember John Peter Zenger[Wiki] from high school history?), but it's sure not the judge's place to make that decision.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-20 23:04:14.946244+00 by: TheSHAD0W

Government is in no way an illusion. If it were you could hassle the police or walk out of jail any time you wanted. The illusive part is that the people control it - excepting for those times when they overthrow it, then exchange it for a different government.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-20 23:20:51.536831+00 by: Dan Lyke

I disagree. I think the illusion is what distinguishes the government from organized crime. After all, the early days of the Cosa Nostra in New York were as protection for the Italian neighborhoods from the Irish cops.

I think we're mostly in agreement and just splitting terminology here, but the notion that it's a government is that collective hallucination that we may or may not be better off with.