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Wednesday
01Oct

Legitimacy as a Battlespace

Mike Innes is quite correct in identifying many of my concerns surrounding the Hamdan trial with the concept of "legitimacy".  I would like to note that the questions I asked in my last post were partially designed to elicit an emotional response from people, rather than a reasoned one.  I was specifically looking at a current disconnect between actual legal theory (which I am not an expert in), general perceptions of the limits of a legal system and, most importantly, the use of any disconnects as an active battlespace.  As a note, I should point towards an absolutely excellent answer to my final question was recently posted at the Small Wars Council (thread; post) by JMM99, who is following the CT Lab symposium (and enjoying "educating" me).

For most people, I suspect that the idea that a person can be taken from their home in one country and charged by another nation under its domestic laws (and without their same protection) is terrifying.  Not only is it terrifying, it will, inevitably, undermine the perception of a rule of law, especially if the "law" can be changed and those changes aplied retroactively.  This strikes at the heart of the perception of a legal system as "legitimate", by attacking people's perceptions regardless of the actual legality of the action.

In effect, that which is outside of our perceptions is "dangerous" and by being forcibly made aware of a previously hidden danger (even though it may have always existed), our perceptions of "reality" are breached, creating a cascade of uncertainty relating to all of our perceptions of reality; a "reality shock" to use Burkart Holner's term (Reality Construction in Society, Schenkman Pub. Co., 1972).  People react differently to reality shocks, but one of the reactions is to make some people susceptible to accepting a "new" interpretive schema for reality - in effect, a new schema for defining what is and is not "legitimate" (I've blogged a bit on this here). 

Taking off my hat as someone who poses question to evoke an emotional response, let me just ask, now, in whose best interests is it for the general population of the world (not the politicians or lawyers or academics ;)) to increasingly view the operation of the US justice system as, to butcher Gramsci, "taking off the velvet glove"?


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