Saturday, August 09, 2008

How easily it can happen.

The American Bar Association Journal this last month had a cover story about the 25 Greatest Legal Movies. As you can imagine, we here at the Cucking Stool are big fans of all of these. MrMNO has a special fondness for My Cousin Vinny, but for reasons more associated with limited slip differential than the Rules of Criminal Procedure.

But tonight at Chez Observer, we watched something a bit more timely, Judgment at Nuremberg, Stanley Kramer's examination of the limits of responsibility for the horrors of the world inhabited by normal people. Of course, the speech given by Judge Haywood (Spencer Tracy) is what makes one pause. Having heard months of testimony about the need to go along with evil in order to survive, in order to prevent greater evil, or in order to save one's country, he nonetheless concludes:
But this trial has shown that under a national crisis, ordinary -- even able and extraordinary -- men can delude themselves into the commission of crimes so vast and heinous that they beggar the imagination. No one who has sat at through trial can ever forget them: men sterilized because of political belief; a mockery made of friendship and faith; the murder of children. How easily it can happen.

There are those in our own country too who today speak of the "protection of country" -- of "survival." A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient -- to look the other way.

Well, the answer to that is "survival as what?" A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult!

Before the people of the world, let it now be noted that here, in our decision, this is what we stand for: justice, truth, and the value of a single human being.

Add it to your Netflix que. You won't regret it.

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