English legal tradition is about winning and losing at the game of law, not about correctly applying the law. You could go out of your way to write laws that protect the rich and hang the poor out to dry, but courtrooms themselves are wealth metrics rather than places where the truth is found and the law is applied so we don’t have to do anything special with the law. Some laws against violence committed by the rich and the poor, but you investigate the poor more, arrest them more, convict them more and sentence them for longer.
A conversation with a friend about this tradition gave the idea that laws should be considered probabilities. We like to think of them as like the rules of a game, something our actions are required to follow, defining some actions as legal and some as illegal. But they’re not always certain and in practice are given meaning by courts where they are just a starting point for people to analyze from.
Sure, some things seem allowed or not. Stab the mayor’s children in front of a press conference and you will likely face consequences. Help your mother across the street when the traffic light says walk and you will likely not be charged. But it’s not that they’re impossible, just very difficult to argue in court. Many things allow more flexibility, and sometimes it’s even hard to guess the odds in advance.
You like Inquisitors?
France has an inquisitorial legal system rather than an adversarial one and I can’t see any reason to think it does worse (and compared to the US, it’s hard to imagine it does worse) in terms of railroading people, etc. The problem is exactly the one we are talking about from the article about rule of law. You can write a law that appears to benefit people but that has a different effect in practice. But making the courtroom adversarial, it pits individuals against the state. The government has a lot more resources available to prosecute me than I have to defend against being prosecuted, so this strongly disadvantages me while it strong advantages people who have more resources.
Honestly I don’t even understand what good presumption of innocence does. If the government really wanted to come after you unjustly, couldn’t they just use fake evidence?
Well, I think that’s more of a principle for reality than a principle for the law. What is the effect of me commuting to work? Obviously the largest probability of that action is me getting to work, but others include death, arrest, and just plain turning around and going back to bed. Something it highlights that I like, though, is that the effects of laws are more important than the supposed principles of laws.
I sort of think it’s a question of whether this is a feature or a bug… because I can’t think of a time in modern history where this actually was true, where all were equal before the law. If it’s the ideal, it’s failed thus far and if it was never more than an ideology to cover for inequality, well, then it’s working perfectly.
I think rule of law is something we’ve been trying to get better at over time and have never achieved. I think it’s probably closer to actual equality before the law now than it has ever been in the past. I think that human rights are helping to provide a framework that lets the law protect individuals.
Maybe I’m thinking about it backwards, though. Rule of law is about being ruled by laws rather than people. I might be taking the economists way out - saying that we can’t trust people to be just so we should eliminate the part of the system that trusts people and just use rules instead. But then again, maybe not, the rule of law has always put ultimate decisions in the hands of human judges (maybe for a lack of alternatives?)
September 2017: Corbyn elected PM, widely criticised by Labour Right for this extremist act which threatens Labour’s electability
Given that, it’s interesting to see this fear explicitly used to intimidate women, when the claim is that it’s about protecting their safety:
One female MP and former frontbencher who asked not to be named said they had been told a “queue of refugees” would be waiting to rape them at home, while another had a specific threat of violence.
I’m not at all surprised to see this, actually. It’s typical and rather normal, unfortunately.
I can’t not like the David Byrne.
stop making sense
I was reading the New Yorker’s coverage of the Turkish Coup, and came across this article written six months earlier.
It explains a bit about Turkish secularism.
In 2010, I moved to Istanbul, where I taught at a university and reported for this magazine for three years. I found that, much like America, Turkey was polarizing into two camps that were increasingly unable to communicate with each other. There was a new dichotomy I had never heard of before: the “white Turks” (Westernized secular élites in Istanbul and Ankara) versus the “black Turks” (the pious Muslim middle and lower-middle classes of Anatolia). The black Turks were the underdogs, while the white Turks were the racists who despised them. Jenny White writes, “The term ‘Black Turk’ is used by Kemalists to disparage Turks of lower-class or peasant heritage, who are considered to be uncivilized, patriarchal, not modern, and mired in Islam, even if they have moved into the middle class.” Erdoğan proudly declared that he was a black Turk.
The black and white breakdown was difficult for me to understand. My mother’s family—fair-skinned Ankara professionals who once had a chauffeur and a gardener—clearly fit the “white” profile. My father’s relatives in Adana were generally less educated and darker-complexioned. His father owned a store that sold textile dye to shepherds. There was a brief time when my father wore a mustache. Yet my father had written the essay in praise of Atatürk in his high-school yearbook, his sisters were pro-choice, none of the women in his family wore head scarves except to do housework, and I had never heard any of them express the remotest hint of nostalgia for the Ottoman past. I had heard relatives on both sides of my family worry that, if Atatürk’s reforms were undone, Turkey could end up “like Iran.” So who were my father’s family—also white Turks?