And that is the terrible myth of organized society, that everything that's done through the established system is legal — and that word has a powerful psychological impact. It makes people believe that there is an order to life, and an order to a system, and that a person that goes through this order and is convicted, has gotten all that is due him. And therefore society can turn its conscience off, and look to other things and other times.
And that's the terrible thing about these past trials, is that they have this aura of legitimacy, this aura of legality. I suspect that better men than the world has known and more of them, have gone to their deaths through a legal system than through all the illegalities in the history of man.
Six million people in Europe during the Third Reich? Legal.
Sacco Vanzetti? Quite legal.
The Haymarket defendants? Legal.
The hundreds of rape trials throughout the South where black men were condemned to death? All legal.
And that is the kaleidoscopic nature of what we live through here and in other places. Because all tyrants learn that it is far better to do this thing through some semblance of legality than to do it without that pretense.« Back to main page of feature