Most of us have at one time or another received what amounts to a ransom note demanding money, which we must “stand and deliver” (under duress) else various nasty things will happen to us. These ransom notes are called traffic tickets – and we’ve been habituated to accept them as legitimate. Or at least to not think about it too much.
Let’s think about it.
First, who is the aggrieved party? It is (in my state) the “Commonwealth of Virginia.” Says so, right there on the paper. If I go to court to contest the charge, a commonwealth’s attorney will represent the “interests” of the Commonwealth of Virginia. That is, of the government.
Well, ok – but who, specifically, is the government?
The answer is, no one.
There is no such thing as the Commonwealth of Virginia. Nor the Federal Government – or any other government. They are abstractions without substance.
Can you subpoena the Commonwealth of Virginia? Cross examine him? Can you do violence to the Commonwealth of Virginia? Harm him?
Where is the body? Show me the wounds!
None such exist – because “he” does not exist.
The government is nothing more than what L. Frank Baum described in The Wizard of Oz. The “great and powerful” wizard has no existence beyond our own fears and imaginings. He is a prop, a front – a fiction.
There is only the man behind the curtain, who pulls the levers. Whose reality hides behind the fiction of Oz. But he is just a man. Just like you. Just like me. Except for the key difference that he pretends to be something more than a man.
A conduit for Oz.
The “Commonwealth’s” attorney.
From this issues his claimed moral authority.
Either an actual human being has been in some way injured – or he has not. “Oz” cannot be injured and therefore has no standing to press charges.
We are trained to genuflect before a contrivance. Made to feel small by wood paneling, ominous-sounding verbiage and the very real prospect of punishment for having disobeyed Oz.
And when Oz is exposed?
The fallback premise is that “the people” of this putative entity called “Commonwealth” have been victimized by such things as your having driven your vehicle faster than a number posted on a sign by one of Oz’s minions. Or choosing to not wear a seat belt. Etc.
The man – or woman – accosting you in court (and the cop who originally accosted you on the road) is acting on their behalf.
The “people” are as unreal as Oz. There is no corporate body, amoeba-like, oozing around out there. One can only harm individual people. And only the individual people actually harmed have standing. The moral right to seek redress in a court.
In common law tradition – currently defunct – it was a principle of legal action that a flesh-and-blood victim had to be produced in order for an offense to be prosecuted, punishment applied. Not a phantom Oz, who cannot be victimized because he does not exist (can one harm Santa Claus?) but an actual breathing (or at least, once-breathing) human individual or individuals who have in some tangible way been harmed, defrauded or otherwise victimized.
Those two elements – an actual victim and a tangible harm caused – were the only relevant considerations insofar as dragging someone before a tribunal, or arresting them, or placing them in a cage – and so on. If one or the other could not be produced, then the “case” fell apart – and the accused was free to go.
It is very bizarre, when you stop to think about it, that the majority of people convicted for various crimes in this country victimized no one. Or at least, no evidence was produced in court that a particular someone was actually harmed by the conduct alleged. It is like playing Monopoly and drawing the Go to Jail card.
Note that under Common Law, the Talmudic parsing of case law/legal code and a priest caste of Talmudic parsers (lawyers) were not necessary. In religious terms, the common law system stood in relation to our current system much in the same way that the Protestant Reformation stood in relation to the then-hegemony (in Christendom) of the Catholic – the self-proclaimed universal – church. Which interposed itself between God and man. Befuddled the layman with Latin gibberish much in the same way that lawyers today befuddle the layman with their gibberish.
Which – as in the case of the “universal” church – is necessary to maintain the power of that caste, that system, its “priests.” Without it, the lawyers (like the priests) become an irrelevance. They are no longer necessary intermediaries. Just as the Reformation set man free to commune with his God directly, under the common law, a man could go before a court or tribunal himself and inquire, simply:
Whom have I harmed? What is the nature of the harm alleged?
These were the only questions – and almost anyone could ask (and understand) them. Which, of course, is why they had to be dispensed with and replaced with the current system of inscrutable, imposing sounding nonsense about “commonwealths,” “governments” and “the people.”
Shakespeare wrote: “First thing we do, we kill all the lawyers.”
Here’s a better idea: Just make them irrelevant.
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