Tag Archives: law

Just what went wrong?

Quit squirming cartoon.
“Quit squirming!”
It’s no coincidence that about a dozen states are all trying to pass virtually identical laws specifically permitting anyone discriminate against anyone else so long as it was because of their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” A lot of the so-called pro-family organizations have been lobbying legislators in every state and providing an already written bill, ultimately coming from an ultra conservative think tank called the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Right now, everyone is declaring a gay rights victory because a big enough stink was raised and the Governor of Arizona vetoed her state’s version of the bill. I think that’s wrong for a couple of reasons…

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14 beats 11

A taxidermied raccoon
Raccoon eating Cracker Jacks.
Legal argie bargie can be fun. But sometimes, it’s just sad.

During the American Revolutionary War (1775-83), the government of the state of Georgia had purchased a large amount of goods on credit from a merchant who lived in South Carolina by the name of Captain Robert Farquhar. At the end of the war, Georgia refused to pay the amount owed Captain Farquhar on the grounds that Farquhar had been a British Loyalist—not on the grounds that the supplies they received had been defective in any way, or that he had otherwise failed to deliver what he promised. It seemed to be nothing more than spite…

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It’s the thought that counts

Raymond Burr sits in a wheelchair, examining a gun.
Raymond Burr as Chief of Detectives, Robert T. Ironside.
Reboots/remakes are tricky things. The current BBC re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes starring Benedict Cumberbatch is altogether awesome, for instance. The remake of the classic Spencer Tracey Father of the Bride with Steve Martin was also pretty darn awesome.

The recent remakes of V and True Grit, on the other hand…

So NBC has launched a remake of the ’70s detective series, Ironside, and they cast Blair Underwood in a role based very loosely on the character originated by Raymond Burr. I’ve watched the pilot, and it wasn’t awful. I’m not even sure I would call it bad. But mediocre certainly springs to mind. Supporting characters completely lacking in anything resembling a personality does as well.

Sometimes series (whether books or television) take a while to find their footing, so I’m going to probably give it a few more episodes. But by the time I finished watching the pilot, I needed something to cleanse my brain, and by chance I’ve had the TiVo recording re-runs of another Raymond Burr iconic series, Perry Mason. It was truly a joy to watch a 1962 episode.

One of the things I loved about the classic Mason television series, as well as the books, was how often Mason would quote specific principles of law. For instance, in the episode I watched that night, Della Street, Mason’s secretary, has been accused of aiding and abetting a felony murder which may have been committed by an old friend. Mason points out to the officer that in order for her to be found guilty, they have to prove that she knew her friend had committed a felony before she acted, that she willingly assisted the friend, and that both she and the friend were doing what they were doing with the intent to avoid arrest for the crime.

Which is true of many of our laws. What you’re thinking and why you’re doing what you are doing determine whether the act is a crime. It is seldom just the action, but also the intent. This is a legal principle that has been with us since at least the times of the Ancient Sumerians…

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