Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

" I know there are many other similar events planned around the country as long as abortion remains legal." Scott Roeder, accused of murder of Dr. George Tiller.

"I do feel I'm not guilty. I don't think it was murder because murder is when a person kills another person without justified reason." Abdul-Hakim Mujahid Muhammed, accused of the murder of Pvt. William A. Long, USA, reportedly in retaliation against the U.S. military's action in the Middle East.

I am not exactly in my element when I discuss the criminal law. But I did happen to pass that section of the bar exam in the process of obtaining a license. And I happen to know the telephone numbers of a number of practitioners on both sides of the aisle as well as investigators if I have a question.

In any event, I know a hell of a lot more about the defense of legal justification than either Messeurs Roeder and Muhammed. And you can add to that list elderly whack job James Von Brunn who evidently decided the best way he could call attention to the plight of disenfranchised white Christians was to walk into the National Holocaust Museum with a rifle a' blazin'.

I leave to others the question of whether this uptick in violence-for lack of a better word spurred by political ideology-represents a trend. As suspicious as 3 events in a short timeframe may be, I don't think we can know that just yet. Further, I have read certain otherwise sane commentators express that perhaps certain hate speech should be investigated and/or regulated. I'm sorry. Even nuts have a 1st Amendment right to say or think any damn fool thing they want.

No. Today I'm going to confine my remarks to the defense of legal justification. And why it isn't applicable to the 3 crimes mentioned above. And if that's the best they got-and I suspect it is-these 3 mutts have got a major league problem insofar as their immediate future as free men is concerned.

Boiled down to its simplest, legal justification is when you commit an otherwise illegal act in furtherance of a ostensibly legal purpose. The defense of self-defense is the most common example of the defense of legal justification. I am not permitted by the law to strike you in the head with the 3 iron I have sitting by my front door. That would be assault with a deadly weapon except that a 3 iron in my hands is pretty useless. However, if you are breaking into my house, I am entitled to defend myself.

Here's another example: Suppose you are walking down the street and see a man beating a woman. The law does not allow you to walk up and punch somebody in the nose just for the heck of it. However, if you assault somebody in the process of helping a victim of a crime, you may invoke the defense of legal justification.

You may be saying to yourself at this point of the lecture, " Gee. You hardly ever see anybody raise legal justification as a defense." You would be correct. This is because if I brain some asshole while he is breaking into my house I will not be charged with anything in the first place. Which brings us to the larger problem that the 3 legal scholars who are the subject of this dissertation have before them.

You have every right not to like African-Americans and Jews. This does not mean that you get to open fire in a museum. You may oppose American military action in the Middle East. This does not mean that you can shoot a couple of Army buddies taking a smoke break outside a recruiting station.

Finally, you may sincerely and fervently oppose abortions. Millions of God-fearing and law abiding people do. You may believe in your heart that abortion is murder. It is not. As Mr. Roeder candidly and stupidly admitted to the press, he knew that it is legal to obtain and perform abortions. If abortion is legal it is by definition not murder. And he was not justified in taking his perverse interpretation of "the law" into his own hands.

The fact that you are disaffected, have an unusually exalted sense of your status a tool for a higher religious or political purpose, or are just plain mean as hell may provide you with a reason for committing acts of violence that the real world rightly regards as completely off-the-charts insane.

Your belief that you are special will not provide you with much in the way of a legal defense.


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