Saturday, December 04, 2004

The Evil Mind

Mens Rea: the Evil Mind
a lovely bit of Latin that is sometimes a touch too apt in describing me. My person motto used to be Power Corrupts, Knowledege is Power, Study Hard, Be Evil.
I do try to use my super-powers of cynicism and sarcasm for good rather than evil; but i'm limited by my basic misanthopy. I think that's why I became a lawyer. Nobody likes lawyers anyway , so i'm not expected to be nice.

hich brings me to another useful bit of Latin
Ignorantia Juris Nemi Nem Excusat
Or, in English, the famous maxim: Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse, which some sick person carved into the facade of my Law School. In the simplest form it simply means you aren;t excused from breaking a law simply beacuse you didn't know what you did was against the law.
A very neat trick no? Maybe once it was possible to know all the laws that governed you, but these days, not even a lawyer can lay that claim. Once, this ignorance was bliss, you were able to go through your life, and never have the law touch you in any meaningful way. Not anymore, now fear of being sued sometimes seems to be the primary motivating factor behind almost all offical actions. Worse yet, our government's response to the war on terror has put some of the basic rights and freedoms at risk. There are subtle arguments being made in little noticed courtrooms, that could change the essential relationship between givernment power and individual freedom, and not in a good way.

I've always been passionate about civil rights, civil liberties and our freedoms, but the last three years of law school have crystalized for me how powerful and precious our freedoms really are, and just how the bedrock rights we take for granted were once not a given, and we only enjoy them because of the tenacity of stubborn people who refused to yield in the face of incredible pressure.

I've also sadly come the realization that in the last 4 years, a lot of our basic civil rights are again at risk. I never imagined that there would ever again be cases in courts arguing the basics of Western human rights (free speech, association, right to counsel, freedom from torture etc) and I would not have believed that our government would be on the wrong side of these cases

I may still be naive, and it may be corny; but I believe passionately in the power of the law , as a sheild against tyrannry and a sword against injustice. I have been almost physically sick when I've have read the text of some of the government lawyers most recent arguments in thier War on terror (tm) And I believe that if they are not opposed, the very foundation of due process and personal freedom could be in serious jeopardy.

SO here is where I vent. I'm pretty sure I'm spitting into the wind, but I have to do something, to clarify my thoughts, to raise awareness to scream against the night.


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