Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Social Order / Law /
We’re born into a society chock full of laws. The first human law was conceived in a world already full of natural laws, some of which we’ve been quite good (however slowly, however painfully) at figuring out. Natural laws apply whether or not you know them. The fire will burn whether or not you have a theory of fire or burning: falling from the roof may break your bones whether or not you know that you have bones. What though about the laws of civilization? How does the law your congressman is agitating to legislate right now relate to the laws of Moses? Moses was supposed to be handing down (and I say down advisedly) laws not natural, but authored, by a creator: a deity acting in the tradition of Hammurabi. How about Hammuarbi’s laws? Were they natural?
I just watched the DVD Atonement: because I’m currently nuts about Saoirse Ronan: and I’ve been nuts about Keira Knightly for some time: and now I’m also floored by Ian McEwan: I’m not used to finding tear jerkers brilliantly written, I’m not used to caring what thirteen year old actresses are up to. I stopped reading the novel so I can resume when my girl is back home, we’ll sample it together, me doing 90% of the reading, her taking a turn. Then I’ve gotta watch the DVD again, with Jan: I’m so moved, she will be too.
The plot touches on law, I want to think out loud about a detail:
(and I want to work in Se7en too.)
Cee, the older sister, is at Cambridge. Robbie, the servant’s son, is there too. Briony, the younger sister, misunderstands things she sees. Then she comes upon her cousin in the dark, apparently getting raped. Briony testifies that it’s Robbie. He goes to jail, so much for his study of medicine, so much for his love of Cee. He gets out of jail by entering the army, WWII you know.
Years later, Biony, a student nurse, attends a wedding: it’s her cousin, marrying the rich guy, the guy Briony now realizes was the actual rapist: he was on her whatever he was doing, whatever she was allowing. Cee says, “Ah, now she can’t testify.”
Cee refers to a legalism making it taboo for a wife to testify against her husband. Detectives ask “who benefits” when there’s a crime. Here’s a law: I ask the same: who benefits? Laws aren’t written for no reason, however senseless they may sometimes seem.
Who (or what) benefits from a “wife” (legally defined, of course) not being allowed to testify about her “husband”? Can you imagine a laboratory procedure that tells the chemist “of six vials you may take evidence from vials 1 thru 5 but not from 6?” The cops can look for the murder in Harlem but not in the mayor’s mansion? Who benefits? Marriage? Wives? Husbands? How about male property rights?
I’ll add more, scrapbook stye, at leisure. You submit ideas, I’ll credit you.
Meantime I repeat a perennial K. point: science needs all evidence, all ideas; kleptocracies need the magicians to control how their trick props are examined: and make sure they’re tested only by the marks (and only those marks who are behaving themselves): no real examiner can be allowed to handle the state equipment.
Adam & Eve
We’re primates. We’re closely related to primate species in which the female goes into heat, swells up, turns red, squirts out odors: and the males each mate with her, each in turn. Early Homo species would have been the same: until “Eve”! Eve innovated a concealed estrus. Everyone in the tribe would have knows when Eve’s mother was in heat, and her grandmother the same; but not Eve. “Adam” didn’t know, Eve herself may not have known. What was clear, what was different, was that Adam was obsessed with Eve: 24/7. Grandpa mated with grandma and turned away, finished. Adam brought Eve “flowers”: before, and again, after! Thus, “marriage” was born. It happened naturally. It didn’t need a priest, or a king, or a bureaucrat. How did that turn into Eve can’t testify against Adam? Who benefits? Surely not Eve.
Surely not me! And I bet not you either.
Around a year ago everyone was swept up with Downton Abbey. A family is discommeded because English law insisted that only a male heir could inherit property. There was no male heir: a distant cousin had to be imported, the cousin didn’t like it either. Cui bono?
Further on the subject: Downton Property.