Friday, March 25, 2005

The Process Is Not God

Captain's Quarters:
In our haste to save an innocent life, we cannot demand that our executives turn into dictators for just a few moments. Dictatorships don't work that way, and neither do democracies.
spatula city bbs:
One is the highest-ranking elected official in Florida. A man who, with one word, could save Terri Schiavo's life.

The other is the most powerful man in the world. The leader of the most powerful country on the face of the planet.

And both of them have bowed in supplication to a flamingo-humping fucknozzle in a swamp.
I enjoy both of these blogs, and they tend to agree with each other on issues, in their own distinctive styles, of course. What better example of how divisive the case of Terri Schiavo has become?

There are those in this country who worship process. The phrase "the rule of law" resonates with them as deeply as a church organ. Respecting "the rule of law" is a nice, safe position that rather neatly exempts the individual from the more profound and troubling questions arising in the conscience (I don't believe Captain Ed is one of these people; his position was obviously reached after deep and troubled thought). Many people have a deep need to be told what to think, what to believe.

Unfortunately, "the rule of law" is morally neutral. It will serve great evil as readily as it serves great good. Following it blindly does not guarantee a worthy outcome in a particular case, nor a virtuous life in general. "I respected the rule of law" is too hauntingly similar to "I was only following orders."

And slavishly following the law has never been an American virtue. We are not Canada, after all, and when King George's legal rule became too burdensome, our founding fathers illegally rebelled against him through force of arms. Many lovers of law for its own sake fled to Canada. Digby, Nova Scotia was founded by Tory refugees.

Less dramatically, squatters in the nineteenth century defied the courts until practical, equitable realty law became the law of the land (and by the way, assured the wild success of American capitalism - read Hernando de Soto's The Mystery of Capital).

Recognizing no law other than his conscience as informed by his God, John Brown rocked the nation, and sacrificed himself and his sons to help precipitate the massive struggle that ultimately repudiated the judges who had produced the Dred Scott decision. John Brown was hanged as a traitor to the state of Virginia, though he had never been a citizen of that state. It was done under the auspices of "the rule of law".

Both Lord Spatula and Captain Ed have followed their consciences to come to their conclusions. I respect Captain Ed's opinion, but find myself more drawn by conscience to Lord Spatula's point of view.