virus: re: compassion and justice

Vicki Rosenzweig (
Tue, 22 Oct 96 14:42:00 PDT

This is rather tangential to memetics, but I have an apology and
one possibly memetic (or at least linguistic) point. The apology
is to Hakeeb, for my US-centrism in assuming he was discussing
conditions and policies in the United States. Mea culpa.

The possibly memetic point is: Speaking of technicalities, here's
one: a group of armed men break into your house, point a gun at
you, ransack your belongings, handcuff you, take you to a strange
place, and allow you one phone call: if the person you call can give
them enough money, you get to go home. When you go to court,
they explain that they thought it was legal, and the judge says "That's
okay, then, we'll act as if it was legal." This sounds outrageous,
not so much a technicality as a gross miscarriage of justice. This
is also current US law on a warrantless search--if, say, your neighbor
thought you might have some marijuana in your house (or didn't
really think such a thing, but disliked you because your dog barked
all night), or the police somehow concluded that you were a burglar
rather than checking with the homeowner, who would have told them
that you were his friend, staying at his house until your own roof was
fixed. But because the armed men are police, their invasion of your
home without a warrant is called a "technicality."