Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The first thing we do

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.

Dick the Butcher, Henry VI, Part 2, act 4, scene 2.

Our friend Dick is suggesting killing the lawyers to help foment instability in London in a plot to overthrow the king. Lawyers that both figuratively and literally stand for the rule of law.

Now there are a bunch of lawyers standing up for the rule of law in Pakistan, and Spot is really proud of 'em:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 6 — In a telephone address to lawyers in Pakistan’s capital, the ousted chief justice of the Supreme Court urged them today to continue to defy the state of emergency imposed by the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Khalid Tanveer/Associated Press
Police officers beating lawyers today in Multan, Pakistan.

“The lawyers should convey my message to the people to rise up and restore the Constitution,” the chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, told dozens of lawyers on speakerphone at a meeting of the Islamabad Bar Association before his cellphone line was cut. “I am under arrest now, but soon I will also join you in your struggle.”

Today, the second day of protests, the police arrested 50 lawyers in the eastern city of Lahore and clashes broke out between hundreds of lawyers and Pakistani police officers in Multan, about 200 miles to the southwest. On Monday, in Lahore and other cities, thousands of lawyers protested, with many beaten by baton-wielding police officers and then thrown into police wagons. By the end of that day, about 2,000 people had been rounded up by the authorities, among them 500 to 700 lawyers, according to lawyers and political officials.

We often forget that the US and Pakistan share something: being a former colonial possession of Britain. British common law is the root of the legal system in Pakistan, just as it is in the US. American lawyers are not physically beaten for standing up to illegitimate authority, but private and JAG lawyers, boys and girls, have made substantial sacrifices to try to make the rule of law apply even to detainees in the "War on Terror."

Spot says lift a glass to them.

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