Continuing The Very Serious Tone Appropriate to This State....

Here is a celebrated wildlife documentary. On a related note, isn't it easy for the James Bond theme by John Barry to slip into 'Paddington Bear' if you hum it?


berenike said…
Massed sousaphones! :-D
Anonymous said…
What is your take on the new role of the Law Lords? Isn't it similar to the separation contained in the US Constitution? And if so, isn't that a good idea?

WC in US
Martin Meenagh said…
Actually, WC, I see no real benefit in the Law Lords calling themselves a Supreme Court. They do not, at least, have a written constitution to hide themselves behind when they take political decisions, which inevitably they will have to do if the legislature ducks an argument. I am also not enough of a lawyer--I am a barrister without a law degree, my other degrees and diplomas fulfilled the academic requirement--to think that the law is neutral.

Most good legal philosophers would accept that too--Dworkin, Hirschl and Sunstein spring to mind as people who recognise that the law really represents an interpretation of morality under due process, and the power of the class in charge but in decline, though they would disagree that their moral perceptions are idiosyncratic.

I like due process and the tenets of the common law, by the way. I think an awful lot of rubbish is talked about the ethics or moral lessons to be drawn from jurisprudential interpretation of things that happen in the courts, though.

I think having law lords in the house of Lords, and a Lord Chancellor who was very powerful and influential, was a good way of dealing with that uncomfortable fact. It meant that the collected wisdom of convention, and a due amount of understanding that real decisions are made behind the scenes, could mesh with a self-governing bar. Over a drink. It depended on trust and an organic society, and I guess that it could be unfair sometimes. But people are fallen and all human institutions will unfair in some fashion.

I got into Oxford on a similar basis; I did the entrance exams, which they set themselves, and the tutors liked me. What then happened was that a whole bunch of middle-class people got upset that their expensively educated children weren't getting in. They made an aunt sally of 'privileged people' getting in via a 'lack of transparency (a more acceptable class target), and then made a fetish of a new 'open process' that put their sort of people in place. Then they agonised about how isolated they were from society when they moved from Oxford to other bubbles--but not much.

Just to deal with their consciences, they also set themselves against grammar schools open to all in case that put an alien class back in. Then they praised themselves in their own newspapers.

The Supreme Court is a bit like that. Heavily indebted law students driven by a sort of Herbert Marcuse-lite progressivism have decided that a post-protestant propertied class with the right opinions have the absolute take on due process. The insight is self-serving and validates them.

They have borrowed a cool term from somewhere else, because they don't like their own country. And they have 'reformed' the system in a way that may destroy the bar, and which may exclude any alternative viewpoints.

However, the trap isn't closed. The English upper classes, whom they hate, are almost as flexible as the working people.

So when the illiterate bourgeois realise that a Supreme Court might see non-housetrained and superior types leap straight from the bar, as Baroness Hale did--like Jonathon Sumption--they are going to go mental and hide behind Britain's pretend democratic representatives. Parliamentary hearings, anyone?

All quite depressing, really. Every ship I have joined in the past decades--Oxford, the Bar, teaching--has been holed beneath the waterline by an educated but stupid class of self-referential burghers.

It'll only be a matter of time before the prejudices of this class--multi-culti euthanasia and antireligion, along with sex as an explanator of everything rather than a diversion--end up being reified in law now.

Oh, and by the way--the Supreme Court in the US is almost as 'bootstrapped' as the Constitution, mostly thanks to Chief Justice Marshall. It grew because, predictably, Congress ducked every challenge open to it, and because the Constitution is so vague....
Martin Meenagh said…
Thank you for your comment, by the way.