Off with his head


Shown above is the foreman(*) of my so-called grand jury, Madame Defarge. Not her real name, of course, and she might even be a he; I am bound by strong oaths of secrecy:

But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combinèd locks to part
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fearful porpentine.
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. 

The difference between the original Madame Defarge, and mine, is that the former was on the side of the sansculottes, while mine is definitely on the side of the District Attorney. They do however share a propensity for the guillotine, or at any rate the penitentiary.

This horrible ordeal is nearly over — Monday will be my last day. I’ve had many depressing experiences in life, but this has been one of the few that diminished my faith in human nature.

And I’m not referring here to the defendants, or the DAs or even the cops. There were no, or very few surprises there; the cops and the DAs were what I have long known them to be — despicable but predictable. No, what deeply disappointed me was my fellow jurors, and especially the young ones.

They’re all attractive — well, except for the one with the greasy hair and the bad dandruff and the grating voice, who unfortunately sits right in front of me. With that exception, they’re all personable and clearly quite smart. With no exceptions, they’re utterly brainwashed.

Of course the white kids are much worse in this respect than the black kids. The latter at least have enough mother-wit to be skeptical of police testimony. The white kids swallow it all, hook line and sinker. And they get mad when you suggest any reasons why they shouldn’t.

I wrote a bit earlier about their inability, or unwillingness, to consider facts. They’re also not very happy with logic. For instance:

I’ve noticed a persistent pattern in the charges we’re given. I call it Piling On. For example — a made-up example, I stress, but we heard cases with a family resemblance to this — some dump mope grabs a lady’s handbag, and is arrested thirty seconds later. He still has the handbag, so he gets charged not only with robbery, but with possession of stolen property.

Or a guy gets pulled over for drunk driving. He gets charged not only with drunk driving ‘per se’ — that is, he failed a breathalyzer — but also with common-law drunk driving, because the cop says he could tell the guy was drunk. The common-law statute, of course, antedates breathalyzers and remains on the books, presumably, because you can’t always get a breathalyzer — the driver doesn’t actually have to submit to one, in fact.

Now I tried to explain my dislike of this pattern to my fellow jurors, and this made me even more unpopular than I had been before:

“They’re different laws!”

“It’s two separate charges!”

“He could have thrown the handbag away! But he kept it!”

I appealed to the obvious intent of the statutes, and the idea that they might have actually been intended to cover different things, and that’s why they’re different statutes (e.g., a person being a fence rather than a burglar).

This literally produced howls of execration, taunts about my inadequate education(**) and so on. The idea that we might actually exercise some judgement was, it seemed, quite upsetting and unthinkable.

I actually like most of my fellow jurors, apart from Dandruff, who annoys me immensely, and Madame Defarge, who I think may be the reincarnation of Albert Shanker. Met in any other setting, they would be people I would like to befriend and see more of.

But in this setting they don’t show to advantage. I suppose it’s a testament to the efficacy of indoctrination. It has not escaped my notice that the best-educated are the most slavish.

(*) I simply will not say forewoman, or foreperson; that kind of thing makes my skin crawl.

(**) To wit, my lack of a law degree. Life’s little ironies.

5 thoughts on “Off with his head

  1. I think law might provide a salient example of just how backward and superstitious the secular upper crust of society actually is. I’m mean law is obviously good for the lawyer trade–so there’s an instrumental side. But more than that… I wonder if law isn’t the legacy remains of some tribal ritual that got corrupted and debauched over the millennia.

  2. Comrade Smith, you have my full sympathy and I’ve been meaning to send you my tale of woe on the subject of the jury duty but I thought it would be too long to bear on your website. Now that I read your verdict on your fellow jurors, I can’t help but sharing the miserable experience I had with the same lot.

    I also had the misfortune of serving on a jury and I walked away with the exact same disgust as you. You’re right: it’s the fellow jurors that disgusts the shit out of you and take away your faith in humanity, not the pigs and the DA. My take on the jury duty before this experience was that if the case was a criminal case, it was my duty as a leftist to sit through it and hold out for the disadvantaged poor sap but little did I know that it’s virtually impossible to hold out.

    My own experience involves a case where a single mother (a white English woman – imagine what they would have done with a person of color) had lost custody of her son because she made the mistake of turning to the Catholic church for help when he started misbehaving at around the age of 6 or 7. The Catholic church then encouraged her to talk to the social services and they in turn evaluated the kid and decided that he needed a more stable situation such as living in an institution! Making the long story short, this poor woman had to deal with the social services for a decade or so and when the evil social worker decided to send her kid to some institution in Alaska, she decided enough was enough and took matters in her own hands.

    So what was her crime? For months, she had asked the social services to replace that evil social worker to no avail. So she decided that the most effective way was to threaten her life and then in the interest of protecting the social worker’s life, the system would re-act. So she left a threatening voice mail for the social worker and then went to her shrink and told him that she had done so. She further asked the shrink to call the authorities about such threat because she wanted them to take her threat seriously.

    Alas, they charged her with 4 bogus charges with the most serious one being the “intention to kill someone”. I was lucky that the foreman was a decent guy who was very sympathetic to this poor woman but the rest of the jurors were monsters, including this woman who just had a newborn baby. You’d think of all people, she would have been sympathetic. Mais non! Making the long story short, the foreman and I convinced the morons to go along with our verdict of not guilty for 3 of the 4 charges, including the most serious one. But the evil jurors stuck to the guilty verdict for the last charge, which wasn’t a serious offense at all. When the foreman and I tried to argue with them, they threatened us with changing their verdict on the more serious charges if we don’t go along with them on the bogus charge. Needless to say, in the interest of the defendant, the foreman and I “plea bargained” with these fuckers and let the least serious charge stick. Our thinking was that she had already served a few weeks in jail and they’d probably let her go.

    Imagine our surprise when the judge sentenced her to 6 weeks for a bullshit charge of no consequence. So when the PD asked if we were willing to talk to her about the trial, the foreman and I both agreed and we told her about our “plea bargain” deal at the jury room. She immediately called it coercion as it was and suggested that we write a letter to the judge asking for a new trial in light of what had happened in the jury room. So the foreman and I both wrote a letter to the judge but as you may have guessed nothing came of it.

    In short, I hated every single mother fucker that served with me on that jury except for the foreman and from that point on, I decided to dodge the jury duty at all costs. I even hated them more than the evil social worker who looked like a lying sack of shit on the witness stand.

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