The Criminal Mind of King David
MAULE.Prof.Law at LAW.VILL.EDU
Thu Dec 18 12:27:32 PST 1997
Sanford Levinson <SLEVINSON at MAIL.LAW.UTEXAS.EDU> poses this neat hypo:
> Recall some of the problems raised by J.S. Mill. One has a right to
> denounce the corn-merchant and, perhaps, even to call, in a general manner,
> for "retribution" by those who "love justice." But what if one gather in
> front of the merchant's house and whips up a crowd to exact retribution.
> Assume that just such a crowd gather, and it is addressed by two speakers.
> One, a secularist, says that the corn merchant is evil and should suffer
> just punishment from the people. The other says that the corn merchant has
> violated God's injunction to help the poor and then quotes the various
> psalms set out by Rick Duncan. The crowd moves on the merchant's house,
> burning it down (as the two speakers, whether for reasons of prudence or
> dismay at what is happening, head in the other direction). The police
> arrest both of the speakers and charge them with inciting the event. What
There is a problem here with "crossover" effect. Namely, the
scripture-quoter says, "I merely prayed. I did not suggest anyone do
anything. They got that idea from the secularist."
Perhaps this problem could be pushed aside (as I think it is
obscuring the point Sandy wants to make) by having twin merchants who
live in similar houses in different parts of the city. Two crowds,
one with the secularist and one with the scripture-quoter. If all
that the scripture-quoter is doing is reading the psalms quoted by
Rick, then arguably the crowd is acting on its own, for if it were to
listen carefully to the words, it would realize that praying to God
differs from playing God. After all, scripture also tells us that
justice belongs to God. Of course, a lot may have to do with body
language, voice tone, hand gesticulations, nodding approvals at the
lighting of the first torch, etc.
The secularist, according to Sandy's facts, actually directs or
suggests action by the people, so (s)he needs a good lawyer. A very
good lawyer. To try to get the lightest sentence possible.
Professor of Law
Villanova University School of Law
Villanova, PA 19085
maule at law.vill.edu
(610) 519 - 7135
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