I was very surprised to read that US Judge Richard Posner advocates secret trials for terrorists. Obviously, attendees at the Australian Bar Association were surprised too. I don’t agree with Posner’s view: it is vital that trials take place in public, with due process. I had always thought Posner was a libertarian at heart. He is, of course, the doyen of the Law and Economics field.

As I have said before, I once briefly dated a guy who was a libertarian with a law and economics bent. As I argued back then, the problem I have with law and economics is that it presumes people are rational and will act in ways which are self-interested. I think human beings are much more complicated than that. We don’t always behave in rational ways. If we did, society would be much easier to fix, but life would be much more boring.

Funnily enough, that guy later got into New Age stuff…thus proving my point. I believe he does work with crystals (or something like that) these days. On the odd occasions I see him (about once a year), I’m tempted to question him on how he reconciles his ultra-rational past with his ultra-irrational present, but in the end, meh, live and let live.



Filed under Economics, judges, law, terrorism, USA

5 responses to “Illiberalism

  1. Maggie Thatcher’s July 1985 address to the American Bar Association was quite reasonable, and apart from quoting Ben Franklin, ("Those who would give up essential liberty to preserve a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety"), she also stated: "And we must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend"

    It seems Posner is taking to heart the latter statement without understanding it in the context of the former. (The rest of the US administration, and perhaps Howard/Ruddock would love to drop the words "of publicity" from the latter.)

    Her other pertinent statement in the same speech was: "The law will be applied to them (terrorists) as to all other criminals". Posner, among others, doesn’t seem to agree with this either.

    Maggie was never a darling of the left or even the latte-sipping right, and she had at least some contribution to softening the terrorism in Ireland, so her criticism of the actions of today’s right indicate something very strange is going on with the application of principles of justice.

  2. William Pitt the Elder once said: “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”

  3. Nicely said, Mild Colonial Boy!

  4. marcellous

    But I think you’ll find Pitt the younger wasn’t too worried about what his father said when it came to the crunch. See Pitt’s repressive legislation

  5. That is interesting, Marcellous. I suppose there was a lot of fear of revolution in the UK after the French Revolution.

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