Sunday, January 3, 2010

To Dance Upon The Air

(click above for article)

Five former army officers will hang within the next few weeks in Bangladesh, raising deep questions about a people's right to protection from a tyrannical executive in the context of John Locke's political philosophy.


"Seven High Court judges refused to hear the lower court's verdict: they declared themselves 'embarrassed' without explaining why. The names of these High Court judges should be engraved in gold – not golden – letters in the premises of the High Court. To any student of law, the reason for their refusal was transparently obvious – they did not wish to embroil the judiciary in a moral issue that had no legal redress without, at the same time, politicizing the judiciary. The distinction between law and morality has been clearly drawn by Immanuel Kant. The best illustration of the discrepancy was provided by Chief Justice Taney. A devout Catholic, he had emancipated all his slaves; yet, when the Dred Scott case came up, he had to assert that 'a black man has no rights'. This decision undermined the prestige of the Supreme Court: yet Taney was merely stating the law, keeping his deeply held belief that slavery was an evil to himself. The seven judges of the Bangladesh Supreme Court similarly, no doubt, wished to draw a line between morality and the law: this, they felt, was a moral issue, not a legal one, certainly not an open and shut case of murder. "

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