[Note: The Ministry of Justice had long been seeking a handy, portable, and effective means of “correction” and to aid in the re-education process. Bringing offenders only in need of modest correction all the way to MOJ HQ was neither cost nor time effective. We were therefore ecstatic when Party Patriot, Kiera, stepped forward a few months back and introduced The Trunk.
- Oaktown Girl, Minister of Justice.]
Howdy, folks. It’s your MOJ Sheriff Kiera, here to give you the lowdown on the criminal justice system – WAAGNFNP-style.
Basically, a crime in our community is whatever the Minister of Justice says it is. Since she is personally guided by Gojira and advised by 3Tops, I’m not going to question that (and I strongly suggest that you don’t either). Now, we all know that in an ideal blog, if you do the crime, you do the time. Here in WAAGNFNP land, “time” consists of being put in THE TRUNK, or in the case of repeat offenders, being RETRUNKED. In the case of someone the Minister of Justice thinks might be about to commit a crime (or for general attitudinal adjustments): PRE-TRUNKED.
Now, what is THE TRUNK, you ask? Well, it’s a trunk, of course, on a mid-sized car…at the moment, a Kia Optima. Why is this punishment? After all, a Kia’s trunk is fairly roomy so far as car trunks go. Sure. But you have to share that space with the Sheriff’s “stuff” (and sometimes a few rather large eggs – more on that later). Okay, so it’s a little crowded, big deal, you say. Ah…but that’s only half the punishment. The other half is the location of THE TRUNK.
THE TRUNK, and the car that it’s attached to, is normally parked almost dead center in the State of California. When people think California, they usually think palm trees, cool breezes, and surfing. But that’s only on the coast. This is the Central Valley, also called the San Joaquin Valley, which, before a massive irrigation system made it agriculture central, was divided between a desert (low desert) and the snow covered mountains (high desert) of the Sierra Nevadas…the range that ends in “Death Valley”. In the Sheriff’s part of the Central Valley, only 15 minutes of travel separate the two, making it very convenient for all-season correctional TRUNKING.
What does this mean to WAAGNFNP criminals?
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Yesterday, Jose Padilla was convicted of charges of conspiracy to “murder, kidnap and maim” people overseas. He faces life in prison. He did not actually commit any acts of terrorism at all, and the contention that he - a poor, uneducated man who grew up on the South Side of Chicago - provided “material support” to terrorism is laughable. Before he was even granted a trial, he was held incommunicado for three years as “enemy combatant”; during this time, he was likely tortured, psychologically and physically.
There are minor annoyances here: the way the media describe the verdict as “a victory for the Bush administration”, when it in fact demolishes their claim that (alleged) terrorists can’t be tried in civilian courts; the regurgitation of the dirty bomb accusation that was always absurd. But the main issue is this: a man, a US citizen in fact, was destroyed by the state, and precious few people were outraged by it. Why would they be? He was only a gang member, a convert to Islam, a nobody.
Padilla may well have been guilty under the incredibly lax standards needed to prove conspiracy charges (in itself, this legal construct undermines the constitution, in my opinion). But don’t we have a right to trial by a jury of our peers precisely so the law can be tempered by the people’s sense of justice? Why did not a single juror stand up and refuse to convict after a trial so obviously unjust?
“We are in bondage to the law so that we might be free.”
Cicero (106-43 BC)
the law is a ass—a idiot.”
Mr. Bumble Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
When I first conceived of this post, I was going to basically describe a great article by Kim Lane Scheppele, When the Law Doesn’t Count: The Rule of Law and Election 2000, in which in addition to providing a devastating critique of the actions of the Supremes and how they violated some of the basic tenets of the Rule of Law, describes how many countries with “horrors” in their past (Germany, Russia, various Eastern Europe countries) have included specific “Rule of Law” clauses in their constitutions. I was going to propose that the United States might profit from adding a similar amendment to our constitution. I still think that it is a great article, (Do read it, but be warned that it will infuriate you all over again. I found it via Lawyers, Guns and Money, which I found in turn via MB’s hockey blogging, which shows that though the wheels of blogging grind fast, they grind Non sequiturously) and such an amendment is still is probably a good idea for the US. However, after watching the various “Accountability Follies” that have played out over the last few months between Bushco and Congress, I am less sanguine about the capacity for any combination of mere words on parchment or paper to save us from ourselves, now or in the future - especially if those words are to be interpreted by the likes of the Roberts court. These days I am thinking more along the lines of what to do right now, because I think John Rogers got it exactly right in his L33T Justice post at Kung Fu Monkey :
They have found the “exploit” within the United States Government. As I watched Congressmen and Senators stumble and fumble and thrash, unable to bring to heel men and women who were plainly lying to them under oath, unable to eject from public office toadies of a boot-licking expertise unseen since Versailles, it struck me. The sheer, simple elegance of it. The “exploit”.
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