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Deconstruction is Jusice

Food for Thought: 

Explain, in your own words, the meaning of Derrida’s claim “Deconstruction is Justice”. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Explain.

With this week’s final musing, I agree with Jacques Derrida’s claim that “Deconstruction is Justice” because justice is not identifiable or calculable as law is. Law is clear cut and has set rules and regulations. However, justice is not so straightforward because when justice is done, each scenario or outcome is different. There is no one set of rules to define such. According to Pavlich, “law does not guarantee justice any more than justice guarantees good law. Because justice is incalculable, one can never declare that I am just, or that this law/decision is just. One could say that it is legal or that it conforms to rules, statutes and conventions” (Pavlich, 2011, p. 173). That quote illustrates that like words, justice has different meanings to individuals.

According to Jacques Derrida deconstruction is, “precisely a way to think about what is involved when ordinary flows of language are disrupted. Deconstruction is not a method or some tool that you apply to something from the outside [and it] is something which happens and which happens inside (Pavlich, 2011, p. 171). This illustrates that deconstruction delivers different meanings to things when they are picked apart. Derrida illustrates one “can never settle definitions absolutely” (Pavlich, 2011, p. 169). And that words, lead from one definition to another and so on and so forth. For example, if a decision is passed down onto a case, each individual will view justice as something different. Derrida goes on to state that deconstruction is not predetermined and will continue to have different meanings to everyone.

How one interprets the law, will lead to justice being served. The judge who is overseeing a case will make his or her decision after hearing all the facts presented to them and the outcome will be, what the judge deems to serve justice. However, with that being said others involved may not be happy with the decision because their definition of justice is or was different than that of the judge.

Derrida’s claim that “deconstruction is justice” is not a simple text to understand and requires more depth and knowledge because it can be a bit confusing because law and justice continues to progress; therefore laws and decisions must be picked apart for further development and understanding.  Justice is not stagnant or a fixed entity because it continues to evolve with every case and decision.

Reference:

Pavlich, G. (2011). Law & Society Redefined. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.

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States of exception

Food for Thought:

This is a multi-part question, intended to facilitate clarification regarding the work of Agamben.

  1. What is the state of exception?
  2. How do states of exception come into being?
  3. What is the legal status of the subjects of a state of exception?

The state of exception according to German theorist Carl Schmitt: “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception” (Pavlich, 2011, p. 157). What this means is that the government or a higher power are in charge and can dismiss the current rule of law and decide the exceptions to a case for example, in case of a state of emergency. The governing body can decide on the exception as they see fit and they do not need authority from anyone else. This allows the governing power to decide how to deal with a particular situation and what measures can be taken and to what extent. This process also does not require decision making by others as a collective group but rather from a few key people in charge; therefore allowing the government to have full control over not only the situation but also the people involved; along with the public. The government; however, excepts themselves from this law which allows the sovereign to maintain their right and to do as they please to others.

There are a number of different ways the states of exception come into being, for example there is the War Measures Act, states of emergency (natural disasters) or crises. In the War Measures Act in Quebec, came about on October 15, 1970 where the Canadian government declared the War Measures Act. The government arranged for the army in Quebec “and restrict[ed] various civil rights elemental to conventional ideas of the rule of law” (Pavlich, 2011, p. 152). This came about because of the tensions taking place in Québec at that time, which was the Front de liberation du Québec (FLQ), “a national liberation movement that emerged in the 1963 with the aim of achieving Québec[s] independence” (Pavlich, 2011, p. 152). James Cross (British trade commissioner) was kidnapped on October 5, 1970 and the FLQ made demands from the Québec government but the government refused to comply; therefore, resulting in the kidnapping of Pierre Laporte (minister in the Quebec government) five days later. Few important political figures stated that the ‘law’ was incapable of meeting the needs of the crisis at hand, and called for ‘emergency powers’; resulting in the deployment of the Canadian army to Quebec. When this occurred a state of exception came about which deferred the rule of law and allowed the state of have full power over the FLQ situation. Throughout this “lots of citizens were arrested and the kidnappers were exiled to Cuba” (Pavlich, 2011, p. 153). According to Pavlich, quite a few people were detained without charge or bail.  This clearly illustrates that the state of exception has the power to do anything they want without any consequences to themselves.

The legal status of the subjects of a state of exception, according to Agamben is that people who are caught within “the juridico-political space of the camp, within the state of exception, are stripped of legal status and civic and political rights, becoming legally unclassifiable beings” (Larsen, 2012). What this means is that, legally individuals no longer have rights and just disappear because they can no longer be classified according to law. There are no rules in play with the state of exception to protect the rights of these individuals and they are considered: “bare life”. A bare life is ‘disposable’.

References:

Larsen, M. (2012, Fall). Law and Society (CRIM 3305 handout). Surrey, Canada: Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Pavlich, G. (2011). Law & Society Redefined. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.

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Society Challenged by Crime

Food for Thought: 

Durkheim’s sociology of law proposes that crime is a normal part of society, and that it is necessary and indispensable. What does this mean? Is Durkheim correct? Discuss, with reference to contemporary examples.

I agree with Durkheim that crime is a normal part of society; especially in this day and age where it is so prevalent. It is unfortunate that crime is necessary for a society to function; however, as Durkheim stated, crime “preforms important collective functions, such as: reinforcing social norms [and] increasing consensus” (Pavlich, 2011, p. 73).

According to Durkheim, law was viewed as a, “social fact that concretely embodies a society’s morals and norms” (Pavlich, 2011, p. 78). Therefore, crime is also seen as a social fact and is considered to be normal, “because it is both universal and necessary to the functioning of given social types” (Pavlich, 2011, p.79 &80). This quote clearly suggests that, in order for a society to function properly, crime is necessary. Durkheim was concerned with how a society is held together and he suggests that crime ties a society together. Crime is associated to all aspects of social life because if there were no crime, a society would not progress and grow. Because of crime, societies are not static and have evolved. For example, new rules or laws are created because a crime had occurred. If that particular crime had not occurred, the new law would not have been created.

Crime exists in every society and there is no one society in the world that does not have crime. According to Pavlich, law is the product of society; therefore, a law is made when a crime takes place because societies are surrounded by crime and it is unavoidable. Individuals are not a replica of another because everyone has different morals and ethics. Some go on to achieve great things in their lives and have professional careers; while others fall into a life of crime. In my opinion a society is not considered ‘normal’ unless crime is present. There would be no challenges to the laws and judicial decisions if crime were not present. For example, a crime occurs and that individual goes to trial but there maybe a loop hole within the system that exonerates that person. Now the law is challenged and perhaps because of this, new laws will be implemented. Crime and deviance are required for a society to grow and to challenge and to be challenged.

References:

Pavlich, G. (2011). Law & Society Redefined. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.

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Sociological Jurisprudence: Status Quo

The food for thought on the topic of Sociological Jurisprudence is, “The purpose of law and particularly judicial decision-making is to preserve the status quo. Do you agree or disagree”?

I am not sure if I entirely agree or disagree with this statement because law changes overtime and it conforms to society. According to the Merriam-Webster, status quo is defined as, “the current or existing state of affairs”; therefore, status quo means to keep things the way they are presently.

The key term in that statement is, ‘current’ because what was considered to be just or unjust, in the 18th or the 19th century, may not mean the same thing in today’s society. For example, Oliver Wendell Holmes was the judge in the famous case of Buck v. Bell (1927). This case involved Carrie Buck, an 18 year old ‘feeble-minded white woman’ who was institutionalized and she gave birth to an illegitimate feeble-minded child. Buck’s mom was also institutionalized at the same institution who was also feeble minded. Holmes decided that, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough” (Pavlich, 2011, p.57) and ruled that Buck be sterilized under the State of Virginia Act. Considering what era this was, feeblemindedness was considered to be “social problems” and eradicating them for the benefit of the society seemed to be the status quo; and sterilization was the answer (Pavlich, 2011). According to Holmes, “the law does all that is needed when it does all that it can, indicates a policy, applies it to all within the lines, and seeks to bring within the lines all similarly situated so far and so fast as its means allow” (Pavlich, 2011, p. 58); clearly suggests to me that the purpose of law and judicial decision making is to preserve the status quo. Public morals, politics and prejudices were all factors that were accounted for when Holmes made his decision and Holmes also stated that, due process was not breached in Buck’s case because sterilization concerning people who are mentally incapable, not only benefits the individual but also the society (Pavlich, 2011).

Times have changed from when this case took place and society as a whole is a lot more accepting of people who are handicapped and they are no longer considered to be “social problems. What happened to Buck is considered to be morally unjust and infringes on her right and due process was clearly neglected in this era. According to Merriam-Webster, due process is defined as “a judicial requirement that enacted laws may not contain provisions that result in the unfair, arbitrary, or unreasonable treatment of an individual”. In this day and age, society would have never attempted to eradicate social problems such as feeblemindedness. Decision that was passed regarding the Buck case in today’s society would have caused an uproar and citizens would have taken it upon themselves to fight for the rights of people who are unable too.

References:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/status%20quo

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/due%20process

Pavlich, G. (2011). Law & Society Redefined. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.

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