Conrad Black and The Rule Of Law

Until I watched this interview, I was utterly indifferent to the fate of Conrad Black. Just another rich bastard caught with his hand in the till. Who gives a shit?

Check it out. I promise you will not be disappointed. And then we’ll have a bit of a chat about it…
(Newsnight – 2012-10-22)
Let me say, up front, I have no idea whether Conrad Black is guilty or innocent.

But given this confident and spirited performance, and given that absolutely everything he has to say about the corrupt Prison State of America is pretty easy to validate, I am forced to concede that he is more plausible, by far, than his accusers and moralistic interrogators such as Jeremy Paxman.

As you’ll have noticed if you followed the link, I stopped updating that page in 2007, when it became clear that Obama was about to replace Bush and I foolishly allowed myself to believe that he would – if not sweep away the Police State – at least reverse some of it’s worst excesses. He hasn’t even slowed its progress. Reluctantly I’m going to have to fire it back up one day and add another couple of hundred examples.

Be that as it may, Conrad Black produced such a barnstorming performance that I feel obliged to hedge my bets. ONLY two kinds of individual could have performed like that. Both of them would believe with utter sincerity absolutely everything they are saying. The first would be a complete Sociopath who has no concept of rational ethical analysis and sincerely believes he is right and entitled to behave as he did. The second is genuinely innocent. I leave you to judge which category Black belongs in.

But the vastly more important point is what Paxman appeared to believe was a killer question:

“Do you not think a man who has been found guilty by due process of law ought to be slightly penitent?”

If nothing else, it demonstrates that Paxman himself is a fine actor; probably a key requirement for someone who has to try to pretend to be interested in “balance”.

It was like watching someone to whom it had never occurred that innocent people can EVER (let alone frequently) be found guilty by “due process of Law”. Such innocence is not remotely plausible on the part of a premier league political interviewer. Especially not one who has – for decades – professionally interviewed so many of the participants in so many of the high-profile cases of wrongful conviction and abuse of process that we’ve suffered here in the UK.

He obviously isn’t that naive, but he had to ask the question. Why?

Because, as I wrote only recently in reply to a question on my forum:

Moral Obligation to Obey The Law?
First, most of the laws we all still live under fail the Reciprocity test and thus, to this ethicist at least, remain entirely illicit. Instead of challenging the validity of such laws, moral philosophers have often been the keenest apologists for them. If you need a clearer example of the failure of Moral Philosophy, I can’t think of one.

But second, secular authority has taken its lead from the success of the religious model and routinely frames its edicts as though they are solutions to moral dilemmas. The over-arching meme is the one that tries to portray Obedience To The Law as a moral virtue in its own right. The mere fact that something is a Law is supposed to be enough to give it moral weight. [emphasis added]

It is rare that something happens in the real world (so soon after I’ve written something like that) which illustrates my point so clearly and so powerfully.

I’ll be coming back to this theme from time to time but the question I urge you to consider is this:
We all know that when a dictator wins an “election” with 99% of the vote, that the vote was rigged and the system is corrupt and unfair. But what about the Law? What success rate (for prosecutors) would you expect in a genuinely fair and honest legal system?

More Support for “Early Use of Fire”

I’m sorry for the child of course. But I’m still rather pleased to read this news that the kid probably died of malnutrition as a result of withdrawal of meat from his diet.

It lends further support to my conjecture that we’ve been using Fire for more than 2 million years; in contrast to the orthodox archaeological view that half a million is more likely.

A key thing to consider is the “at least” in the articles first sentence. For humans to have suffered the consequences of withdrawal of meat, implies evolutionary adaptation which itself would itself have been the result of “at least” a couple of hundred thousand years of meat-eating. Put that together with Richard Wrangham’s observations about dramatic changes in Skull shape and diet around 2 million years back (which he puts down to cooking meat) and it’s all increasingly consistent with my suggestion that we started using fire methodically (rather than opportunistically) more than 2 million years ago as a direct result of the prolonged use and manufacture of flint tools – which are uncontroversially dated back “at least” 2.5 million years.

Anyone who’s attempted working with flint – or has a non electronic lighter – knows how easily they produce sparks and it has always seemed obvious to me that such sparks would have occasionally produced small fires in the dried brush of the savannah and that, after a few hundred thousand years it might well have occurred to even the most conservative Homo Erectus to think “hey – wait a minute…”