Tuesday May 21, 2013
Taking the Law into Our own Hands: A Fine and Necessary Tradition in the Face of TyrannyKevin D. Annett Salem-News.com
To no-one will we sell, to no-one will we deny or delay right or justice. - Clause 40, The Magna Carta, 1215
(DAYTONA BEACH, FL) - All persons who were the victims of a crime were expected to raise their "hue and cry" and apprehend the criminal; and upon hearing their cry, every able-bodied man in the community was expected to do the "utmost in his power" (pro toto posse suo) to chase and apprehend the accused as a "posse.”
The retired New York City cop stared at me with the eyes of someone who knew too much. He said matter of factly, “It’s standard practice here not to prosecute child rapists for a first offense. They have to rape a kid ten, maybe fifteen times before there’s a good chance of conviction.”
“You mean it’s not a crime to rape a child, in practice?” I replied.
“Not really. Not under our legal system it isn’t.”
Whenever people ask me why we’ve established our own common law court of justice, I simply tell them that story. New Yorkers engage strangers with a familiarity unknown to most Canadians, and so it wasn’t long before I fell into a conversation with the cop in question during my all-night vigil at JFK Airport last week, awaiting my flight home. He was a Brooklyn precinct veteran who knew the score. At one point, to emphasize what he’d told me about child rapists, he handed me that day’s New York Times.
“Small world,” he remarked, pointing to one article. The story was about a network of Catholic priests and bishops in central Germany who had for years targeted the same children for rape and trafficking. None of them had ever been convicted.
“People are going to have to take the law into their own hands,” I said, after skimming the article in disgust.
“Damn straight,” the cop replied.
Someone once said that if the sun comes up every morning, it is only because of people of good will. I disagree. There are more than enough of us with good will; that has never been the problem. What is needed is to act on what we know is true and necessary, for action alone will stop the hand of the criminal. But few if any of my good willed neighbors will act to save our children if that means having to defy conventional authority.
The law is a lot like the church: a mysterious institution ruled by a high priesthood that is self-governing and unaccountable and thus, a magnet for criminality and corruption, and yet which is, absurdly, relied upon to render justice and salvation for the rest of us. It was not always so.
A thousand years ago, a common law existed among my English and Celtic ancestors that sought to ensure the liberties and security of the people. Based in village courts known as “the Hundreds,” this law rested in the hands of the people, who enacted their own justice independently of the far-away power calling itself “the Crown.”
In this tradition, sheriffs were appointed by the Hundreds to create local juries to name and present anyone guilty of theft, murder or rape. It was up to every able-bodied man in the village to bring such offenders into these local courts for trial and sentencing. These men were known as “posses,” taken from the Latin term "pro toto posse suo," meaning "utmost in his power." Our ancestors were each obligated to take responsibility for the law and the safety of the community, by stopping the criminals themselves, to the utmost of their power.
Naturally, such local justice didn't sit well with the centralized authority of kings and popes, and for centuries, they and their intellectual hacks have convinced us that acting for our own benefit is tantamount to chaos and anarchy. Our long common law tradition of direct citizen action is equated now with "vigilante justice" and (to quote one Canadian Supreme Court jurist) "arrogant mob rule."
Arrogant, in fact, comes from the Italian word "arrogati," which means, "to claim for oneself." Yes, indeed. The learned bigwigs (an accurate bon mot, historically) who preside over our present criminal-protecting legal system should really check out their vocabularies and their own precedents before condemning the rest of us. For under Canadian and British law, a principle known as Lawful Excuse or a Claim of Right allows any citizen to break the law for the benefit of the community, and even make arrests of suspected criminals, when the authorities refuse or are unable to do so.
American courts call this right a Necessity Defense, and it's been used successfully by civil disobedience activists who blockade missile bases and military operations because of a Necessity to defend their communities from a clear and present danger. But the idea is the same: a very subversive idea, actually, which says that citizens can and must take the law into their own hands when their lives are in peril, or when the system is not functioning as it should.
Who of us can deny that today the law no longer protects our liberties and our lives, and those of our children? And yet over time, we have unlearned the habits of liberty and action, lulled by the lie that rights are somehow intrinsic to a society, and not in need of winning, over and over again.
We are now under assault, in an undeclared civil war waged by a small ruling elite against our traditional rights, our families, and the earth itself. And the strongest weapon this wealthy elite wields is that they own the law and use it for their own benefit. There is no clearer proof of this than the massive protection given to child raping clergy and their corporate church institutions by courts around the world.
What other institution besides church corporations can kill and rape children with impunity, shield themselves from any consequence, and never face disestablishment for such vile crimes? There has been no justice for any of the countless victims of churchly rape, nor shall there ever be, under the present legal system, simply because that system is run by money and influence. I have worked with too many survivors of church torture and seen their hopes dashed by verdicts that at best grant them token financial payments in return for the legal vindication of those who destroyed their lives. This is not justice, but its active obstruction.
A new judicial mechanism is needed: one that does not reduce the law to the expedient tool of the powerful, but which enshrines justice for the helpless by becoming a weapon in the hands of victims everywhere. And reaching back into our tradition of the Hundreds Courts and citizen-driven common law, we have such a means at hand.
In that knowledge and spirit, we have set up an International Common Law Court of Justice that will inspire many other such courts in communities around the world. Already, we have posted online the evidence and arguments of our Prosecutor's Office, which is seeking the indictment of the officers of church and state responsible for the legal genocide of aboriginal children across Canada. (www.itccs.org)
But the outcome of that Court lies in the hands of all of you reading this, who are charged with the enforcement of whatever sentence is brought down by our 58 sworn Citizen Jurors. That's because, resting on the Natural Law understanding that truth and justice lies innately within each of us, it is the civic duty of every man and woman to decide the punishment of the guilty, as well as to enforce it.
In the matter of the Canadian Genocide, of those who murdered generations of children in the name of their Christian religion, our Prosecutor's Office is seeking long prison terms for church and government officers, the seizure of their assets and the legal disestablishment of their institutions, all in reparation for crimes against humanity. But it is up to each of you to enforce this sentence.
That is the tall and exciting order of the judicial and moral revolution represented in our Court. The People are the Law. We can level all the rough places and create a place of equality and justice for this generation, and all of our descendants - but only by stepping out of the status quo and re-establishing a tradition that was our ancestor's sole bulwark against tyranny.
In the words of one such ancestor,
"For what you call the Law is but a club of the rich over the lowest of men, sanctifying the conquest of the earth by a few and making their theft the way of things. But over and above these pitiful statutes of yours that enclose the common land and reduce us to poverty to make you fat stands the Law of Creation, which renders judgement on rich and poor alike, making them one. For freedom is the man who will thus turn the world upside down, therefore no wonder he has enemies."
Our complete case concerning Genocide in Canada will be posted for your judgment the day before, on February 1, 2013, at www.itccs.org.
- Thomas Jefferson
See this introductory video on The Canadian Holocaust:
A Canadian clergyman, Kevin Annett has for nearly twenty years led the movement to bring to light and prosecute atrocities in Christian “Indian residential schools”, and win justice for survivors. Expelled in 1995 from his former United Church of Canada for exposing murders in that church’s Indian residential schools, and persecuted and blacklisted for his efforts, Kevin is now an award-winning film maker, author, social activist and public lecturer who works with victims of church violence and genocide all over the world. In 2009, he helped to establish the five-nation International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State, which is seeking to indict church and government leaders for crimes against humanity.
As a result of Kevin’s tireless efforts on behalf of native people, the Canadian government was forced to issue a public “apology” and reparations program concerning Indian residential schools, in July of 2008. In giving him the name Eagle Strong Voice in 2007, Anishinabe elder Louis Daniels declared, “Kevin Annett is doing what few of his people have done, and that is to speak about the crimes they committed against many of our nations and their children. He has earned a place forever in our hearts and history. He is a brave and prophetic man. I ask everyone to welcome him and heed his voice.” And scholar Noam Chomsky wrote in 2006, “Kevin Annett is more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than many of those who have received it.”
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