Why I love the law

I can hear you already, I know, I know: What are you talking about? And didn’t the great Shakespeare himself have one of his characters say (to lots of applause down through the ages) “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” (Henry VI,” Part II, act IV, Scene II, Line 73)?

Yes, the Bard did write this, but he was actually giving a nod to the legal profession as the bulwark against untrammeled power and chaos.

But whatever Shakespeare or his characters may or may not have intended, it is indeed the law and only the law that can abolish discrepancies in power and lay the foundation for what I will call a “naked” rather than blind justice: a justice that strips all concerned parties of everything BUT their inalienable rights. This ideal of naked justice is, to my mind, perhaps the greatest political advance of humanity. It had its seeds—in the West, at least—in Magna Carta, and sprouted in the American Constitution and Bill of Rights. When eventually it was extended to ALL human beings, slaves and women included, it became the beacon giving hope that society might one day be an equal and just one.

However, laws are made by men (and women), and as such may be corrupt, deformed, ugly, inappropriate or just plain perverse. Nonetheless even behind the particular laws themselves is the ideal of naked justice to which I have already alluded. And once one accepts the notion of inalienable human rights, it becomes the inalienable duty of the law and its representatives to protect and preserve them.

It is, therefore, all the more tragic to have witnessed the destruction of this very foundation by the country thought by so many to have been the standard-bearer of the law, the United States. In fact, this destruction was deliberate and the flouting of basic human and international law has become the incontrovertible indication of a return to the gangster politics of power. What is even more frightening, however, is the general acceptance that such disregard may be “justified”. In fact, it’s become virtually unquestionable, principally because we have been propagandised into submission by the endless phony “war on terror”—a war in which State terrorism is by far the greatest danger.

When the first unfortunates were gathered into the livid hell known as Guantanamo Bay, sold by their enemies or rounded up according to the prerogatives of power, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Could this be my country, the America in which I grew up and which espoused such bold and magnificent principles as presumed innocence, guaranteed legal representation, habeas corpus, and the like—could my America be doing this?

Well, yes. And it got worse. Because my America decided also to invade a sovereign country (how can we forget Iraq?) in a magnificent demonstration to the rest of the world that it—Power—could simply do what it wanted. In fact, it can simply create a hit list—shades of the Roman triumvirates—of people who apparently deserve to be killed because a secret committee of people meet and dispatch a drone to do the dirty work. No need for judge or jury: the executioner is enough.

Now we have Syria. Day after day I read about American decisions about how or whom to bomb or fight, how to partition sections of the country it has helped to destroy, and how best to get rid of Syria’s elected leader. Day after day I also read about the incorrigibly evil Putin and his Russian henchmen who are bent on creating a Fourth Reich.

Virtually no one in mainstream American media, from the right or left, questions the legality of the presence of any but invited parties onto the soil of a sovereign nation. Imagine the outcry if a band of Cubans decided the mayor of New York was corrupt and landed a flotilla of armed servicemen to liberate Manhattanites from their persecution?

Syria is a sovereign nation whose leader, like him or not, has the rule of law on his side. Russia has been requested to help in his fight against those elements seeking to depose him—and those elements have been instigated, fomented and supported by the US and NATO for reasons that have nothing to do with anything except some geopolitical advantage.

Now is the time for some good lawyers to come to the aid of their ideals, and for the media to start taking notice. Otherwise we are left with the simple rule of Power and Exceptionalism which, in the not too recent past, was known as lawlessness.

Will somebody—say a constitutional lawyer—please step forward? Soon?

Dr. Garcia is a poet, novelist and physician who resides in New Zealand.

One Response to Why I love the law

  1. Well thought out, Dr. Garcia

    i would add that terrorists do not have civil rights. Because something is within the law doesn’t make it moral. We must protect our borders, language, and culture.