Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Inter arma, silent leges?

In a comment to my previous post, Canardius quoted both Cicero and former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, "Inter arma, silent leges." which translates to "In war, law is silent."

My response is that what is is not what should be, nor should those who profess to love freedom ever accept it as such. Are we to believe that war's effect on the rule of law is a good thing when men in power may declare war at will for the very purpose of subverting the law or for enriching and empowering themselves and their cohorts? Or is it a thing to be feared, a thing to be avoided at all cost, a thing to be fought against with every fiber of our beings?

Bush and his administration propose a permanent state of war, the only possible war in a circumstance when we're fighting a tactic used since the dawn of human civilization. Are we then to surrender permanently the last vestiges of freedom hard won by American soldiers, sailors, marines, and civilians? Will they then have lived and died for nothing or for less than nothing? Can there be any greater insult to those who have provided and preserved our freedoms than to surrender them not only without protest but gladly to a tyrant who would declare himself king in a nation where there is not and never should be a throne? Having taken up the tactics used by the most brutal of regimes and the most evil of men, are we not surrendering the men and women who defend this nation to similar treatment?

Although the phrase is often misattributed to Benjamin Franklin, it was diplomat Richard Jackson who said, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." I would add that those who would willingly surrender to tyranny under any circumstance deserve to be slaves. Have they the right to drag the rest of us into slavery along with them? I say not just no but HELL NO!

And to Canardius' quote, I add a few of my own:

Thomas Paine: "He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."

Hermann Goering: "Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Frederick Douglass: "Find out just what people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

Theodore Roosevelt: "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

Rudolf Hoess, SS commandant at Auschwitz, in his statement to the War Crimes Tribunal: "This so called ill treatment and torture in detention centres, stories of which were spread everywhere among the people, and later by the prisoners who were freed were not, as some assumed, inflicted methodically, but were excesses committed by individual prison guards, their deputies, and men who laid violent hands on the detainees."

Vladimir Nabokov, Russian-born U.S. novelist, poet: "While the system of holding people in hostage is as old as the oldest war, a fresher note is introduced when a tyrannic state is at war with its own subjects and may hold any citizen in hostage with no law to restrain it."

Carl Jung: "The healthy man does not torture others - generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers."

Ed Markey: "The war against terrorism is a war against those who engage in torture."

Ida B. Wells: "Brave men do not gather by thousands to torture and murder a single individual, so gagged and bound he cannot make even feeble resistance or defense."

7 Comments:

Blogger Rob the Webkahunah said...

Don't forget my favorite: "the principles of freedom must apply to everyone, or they are meaningless"- James T. Kirk, The Omega Glory

1:57 PM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

Heh... I was thinking of using this one: A matter of internal security: the age-old cry of the oppressor. Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation Episode: The Hunted

2:29 PM  
Blogger Canardius said...

i am not ssure it was M. Tullius Cicero, but will check. and i hink it was "laws are silent" -- nominative plural leges.

Tiberius Canardius Caesar, flamen Melindis

10:00 AM  
Blogger Canardius said...

oh, a flamen is priest of a roman god, like flamen Martialis was priest of Mars. When Caesar was killed, Antony made an office called flamen Julianis, priest of [the divine] Julius.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Canardius said...

Your continued donations keep Wikipedia running!
Inter arma enim silent leges
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Inter arma enim silent leges is a Latin phrase meaning "In the face of arms, the law falls mute," although it is more popularly rendered as "In time of war, the laws fall silent." This maxim was likely first written in these words by Cicero in his published oration Pro Milone, although Cicero's actual wording was "Silent enim leges inter arma."

At the time when Cicero used this phrase, mob violence was common. Armed gangs led by thuggish partisan leaders controlled the streets of Rome. Such leaders were nevertheless elected to high offices, and maintained close ties to more respectable citizens. One such gang leader, the praetor Titus Annius Milo, was put on trial for the murder of his rival and political enemy, Publius Clodius Pulcher. Milo defended himself by admitting that he was responsible for the illegal killing of Clodius, but that his actions were nevertheless justifiable since Clodius had reportedly been planning to kill him first. Since Cicero was an ally of Milo and archenemy of Clodius, he spoke in Milo's defence before the Senate. Thus Cicero used this maxim to argue that laws should not be strictly observed when a person's life is threatened.

In more modern usage, however, it has become a watchword about the erosion of civil liberties during wartime. In the immediate wake of the events of 9/11/2001, the maxim was aired and questioned in the American media with renewed force. The implication of the saying as currently used is that civil liberties and freedoms are subservient (for good or ill) to a wartime nation's duty of self-defense.

In 1998 Chief Justice William Rehnquist, in All the Laws but One: Civil Liberties in Wartime suggested that "the least justified of the curtailments of civil liberty" were unlikely to be accepted by the courts in wars of the future. "It is neither desirable nor is it remotely likely that civil liberty will occupy as favored a position in wartime as it does in peacetime. But it is both desirable and likely that more careful attention will be paid by the courts to the basis for the government's claims of necessity as a basis for curtailing civil liberty," the chief justice wrote. "The laws will thus not be silent in time of war, but they will speak with a somewhat different voice."

[edit]
In popular culture
Fictional references to it in popular media include a 7th-season Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode (called "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"), where a Starfleet Admiral uses it to defend the assassination attempt on the head of the Tal Shiar. An episode of The Practice in 2001 uses it to refer to the imprisonment of Arab Americans during the "War on Terrorism". Declan McCullogh asserts that the Latin tag "encapsulates the supremacy of security over liberty that typically accompanies national emergencies" (ref McCullogh)

10:05 AM  
Blogger Canardius said...

Your continued donations keep Wikipedia running!
Inter arma enim silent leges
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Inter arma enim silent leges is a Latin phrase meaning "In the face of arms, the law falls mute," although it is more popularly rendered as "In time of war, the laws fall silent." This maxim was likely first written in these words by Cicero in his published oration Pro Milone, although Cicero's actual wording was "Silent enim leges inter arma."

At the time when Cicero used this phrase, mob violence was common. Armed gangs led by thuggish partisan leaders controlled the streets of Rome. Such leaders were nevertheless elected to high offices, and maintained close ties to more respectable citizens. One such gang leader, the praetor Titus Annius Milo, was put on trial for the murder of his rival and political enemy, Publius Clodius Pulcher. Milo defended himself by admitting that he was responsible for the illegal killing of Clodius, but that his actions were nevertheless justifiable since Clodius had reportedly been planning to kill him first. Since Cicero was an ally of Milo and archenemy of Clodius, he spoke in Milo's defence before the Senate. Thus Cicero used this maxim to argue that laws should not be strictly observed when a person's life is threatened.

In more modern usage, however, it has become a watchword about the erosion of civil liberties during wartime. In the immediate wake of the events of 9/11/2001, the maxim was aired and questioned in the American media with renewed force. The implication of the saying as currently used is that civil liberties and freedoms are subservient (for good or ill) to a wartime nation's duty of self-defense.

In 1998 Chief Justice William Rehnquist, in All the Laws but One: Civil Liberties in Wartime suggested that "the least justified of the curtailments of civil liberty" were unlikely to be accepted by the courts in wars of the future. "It is neither desirable nor is it remotely likely that civil liberty will occupy as favored a position in wartime as it does in peacetime. But it is both desirable and likely that more careful attention will be paid by the courts to the basis for the government's claims of necessity as a basis for curtailing civil liberty," the chief justice wrote. "The laws will thus not be silent in time of war, but they will speak with a somewhat different voice."

[edit]
In popular culture
Fictional references to it in popular media include a 7th-season Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode (called "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"), where a Starfleet Admiral uses it to defend the assassination attempt on the head of the Tal Shiar. An episode of The Practice in 2001 uses it to refer to the imprisonment of Arab Americans during the "War on Terrorism". Declan McCullogh asserts that the Latin tag "encapsulates the supremacy of security over liberty that typically accompanies national emergencies" (ref McCullogh)

10:06 AM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

The problem, my dear Canardius, is that tyrants like George W. Bush can decide that any threat to security, as interpreted by him, is sufficient to curtail the liberties of the American people; the Constitution and international human rights standards be damned. Under the current legislation floating around in Congress, people like me (who openly condemn the president and his tactics, thereby "emboldening the enemy" according to the Bushites) can, by the president's order alone, be declared enemy combatants and stripped of civil liberties, indefinitely imprisoned, tortured, etc.

If the United States were to be attacked with nuclear weapons (Heaven forbid.) and roving gangs of radioactive mutants were laying waste to the remains of our society, then obviously, some extralegal measures would be necessary. However, even in that circumstance, the nature of those extralegal measures should still not be in the hands of one man and his lackeys. Absolute power is a thing to be feared and should NEVER be entrusted to one man, unaccountable to the masses and their representatives. The freedoms of the people should NEVER be in the hands of one man or surrendered as anything but a last resort in the most extreme of circumstances. We are NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, in a situation so extreme that our liberties need give way to the national security apparatus or the will of Bush.

I would argue that we're not even at war (as no legal declaration of war has been issued since 1941) and that the "war on terror" or "war on terrorism" proves that "war" is a ridiculous weapon to use against an international criminal syndicate with no standing army or state apparatus, a tactic used since the beginning of human history, or to be even more absurdist, a noun. In fact, "war" is making our situation far worse domestically and internationally than it would have been otherwise, especially as it has been used by the tyrants in the executive branch and their "prison bitches" in Congress to curtail the essential freedoms of the American people and to violate the fundamental human rights of the Iraqi people and the thousands of innocents killed/detained by this administration.

12:23 PM  

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