Author Archives: alana4

Deconstruction is justice

This week’s food for thought asked to discuss the Jacques Derrida’s claim that ‘deconstruction is justice’.  By stating that ‘deconstruction is justice’ Derrida’s notes that ‘justice’ is constructed in the process of making ‘justice’. To put it differently, Derrida notes that there can be no fixed definition as the true essence of justice relies on combining different terms. That is, we must constantly refer to things that are external to the definition we attempt to construct. To better exemplify, consider this example. If the government proposes to its citizens that ‘justice is equality’, then this statement alone would raise many questions for Derrida and Derrida’s followers. To put it differently, one of the question which would arise is as follows: what does equality mean and who is defining equality?.  From practicing this approach, we would have involved ourselves in interrogating the terms which would appear to be fixed. In short, Derrida’s overall point to his readers is that concepts are always in the process of becoming and never finalized. In other words, an individual is always ‘deferring’ terms to better understand their meaning. The above mentioned points connect to the next point which Derrida makes.

An additional point that Derrida makes when he notes that ‘deconstruction is justice’ is that one would be able to find the hidden meanings in text. There is nothing outside of text. In brief, there is no way to escape language. As noted, “[d]econstruction emerges in a reading of texts that is attentive to traces and absences-signs and associations that are not out found within the text, but which give the text meaning” (Larsen, 2012).  Moreover, Derrida defines ‘deconstruction’ in relation to binaries. One must interrogate the terms in which these binaries exist and then interrogate them. As explained, “[d]econstruction involves the overturning of binary oppositions through the identification of implicit hierarchies, unintended meanings, historical contingencies, and- above all-through questioning” (Larsen, 2012). For example, to better understand the meaning of ‘rich and poor’ it would be important to interrogate what constitutes the term ‘rich’ and ‘poor’. Overall, it is important to remain open-ended when defining terms as it is this process which allows us to connect to various other terms. As stated in the criminology 3305-Law and Society lecture, ‘[j]ustice is like a butterfly-the act of attempt to grasp justice-actually kills the purpose of justice. The whole purpose of justice is in the pursuit-its always becoming’ (Larsen, 2012).


Larsen, M. (2012). Derrida: Deconstruction, Justice, and Law. [CRIM 3305-Law and Society –Class Handout]. Surrey, Canada: Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Larsen, M. (2012). Derrida-Lecture Notes. Surrey, Canada: Kwantlen Polytechnic University.


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The State of Exception: just or unjust?

The theorization of KIHC presented by Larsen and Piché in their Canadian Journal of Law and Society differs from Agamben’s theorization of the camp in a following manner: while Agamben notes the state of exception to be normalized, Larsen and Piché believe the state of exception to be institutionalized. That is, for Agamben, the individuals detained have the status of a bare life. In brief, the subjects are classified as bandits. Bandits are explained as “…subjects deposited (banned) in a netherworld that is neither ‘animal’ nor ‘man’…[t]hese subjects are both banned and abandoned by law as excluded entities” (Pavlich, 2011, p.158). For example, Abu Ghraib, twenty miles west of Baghdad, was one of the world’s most notorious prisons, with torture, weekly executions, and vile living conditions” (Hersh, 2004). Conversely, Larsen and Piché contend that there is “…blurring of mandates [and] the blending of authority…”(Larsen, 2012).

In addition, other theorists such as Butler and Ericson view state of exception in a different manner. On one hand, Butler views the state of exception to be governmentalized; on the other hand, Ericson perceives the state of exception to be legalized. For example, Butler notes that there is not one dictator but different government officials (also referred to as petty sovereigns) who make the decision of whom to detain. However, Ericson brings forward the concept of ‘counter law’ which gives the government the ability to use one type of law to circumvent another law. For instance, there is extensive security at the airport to prevent any unlawful activities from occurring.

Also, in the article, “Exceptional State, Pragmatic Bureaucracy, and Indefinite Detention” by Larsen and Piché, the authors make a normative argument in opposition to the KIHC and to security certificates more generally. The nature of their normative argument is as follows: the authors view security certificate to be problematic for it produces unlawful results. That is, security certificate deals with the concept of indefinite detention. Provided that the detainees are neither charged nor have the right to be brought to trial, it can be said without doubt that using the security certificate in the context of indefinite sentence is indeed problematic. For instance, in Criminology 3305 lecture, it was explained that security certificate allows the arrest to take place basis on the material that the detainee will never see the proof against him or herself. This once again clearly explains how the detainee’s rights get infringed. The question I would like to raise at this point is as such: is it correct to believe that Canadian government protects its residents once we become familiar of the cases discussed under ‘the secret trial five’ which mirrors the negative view of the government. For instance, Hassan Almrei “had been in custody since October 2001, after CSIS accused him of links to al-Qaeda. He was freed to a strict house arrest in January 2009” (CBC, 2009). From becoming familiar with the above mentioned information, I am compelled to believe that society is living in a mere illusion that government protects its resident. As a matter of fact, the truth is that “[o]rganizations are distorted by states of exception carried out under the politics of security” (Larsen, Handout). In addition, I would like to note that I agree with Larsen and Piché’s argument as they are successfully able to prove that security certificate is indeed unlawful. As noted, “[d]etention without trial in Canada is a serious matter, and KIHC warrants explanation-and problematization-on its own terms”(Larsen and Piché, 2009, p.204) .


CBC (2009).  Security certificates and secret evidence. Retrieved from

Hersh, S.M. (2004).  Annals of National Security: Torture at Abu Ghraib. The New Yorker. Retrieved from

Larsen, M. , & Piché, J. (2009).  Exceptional State, Pragmatic Bureaucracy, and Indefinite Detention: The Case of the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre. Canadian Journal of Law and Society, 24 (2), pp.203-229.

Larsen, M. (2012, Fall). Larsen: Exceptional State, Pragmatic Bureaucracy [CRIM 3305-Law and Society –Class Handout]. Surrey, Canada: Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

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

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Durkheim’s views crime as normal.

As for this week’s reading, Durkheim’s sociology of law proposes that crime is a normal part of society, and that it is necessary and indispensable. To better understand what Durkheim is proposing, I will break his statement into a twofold. First, I agree with Durkheim in stating that crime is a normal part of society. The reason being is that it is difficult to point to a place or a period of time where crime has not been committed. Although the definition of crime has changed over the years, nonetheless, crime has always been part of the society. For instance, historically, individuals were accused of witchcraft crime. Rosen (2005) explains that, “[t]hree months went by, during which many women and few men were accused of witchcraft…[t]he first of what would come known to be known as the Salem Witch Trials took place June 2, 1962. The defendant, Bridget Bishop, was found guilty [and was] hanged on June 10” (p.14).

I will now shift my focus towards discussing why crime is necessary and indispensable. I believe crime is necessary and indispensable because it allows a social and legal change to occur. I will incorporate the example of September 11 attack upon the United States in New York and Washington. Although as heinous as it was, I believe that the September 11 attack had brought a substantial and immediate change in some of the policies such as the foreign policy. As stated, “ United States foreign policy changed in some very noticeable ways after September 11, 2001…[t]he most noticeable change in U.S. foreign policy is its focus on preventive action, not just preemptive action. This is also known as Bush Doctrine” (Jones, n.a). Because the changes in the foreign policy would ensure that the society in the future would be better protected from the crime such as terrorism, I agree with Durkheim’s viewpoint that crime is necessary and indispensable. In other words, “…crime is necessary because it is ‘fundamental’ to social life, and it is ‘indispensable’ to ‘the normal evolution of morality and law’” (Pavlich, 2011).

The question I would like to raise, however, at this point is ‘How is crime defined? And Who defines crime?’. The reason I propose this question is because according to me there are many types of crime which are not defined in the legal text but continue to harm an individual and society at large. The first type of ‘crime’ that comes to my mind while addressing the above noted question is of ‘poverty’. Even a social reformer, Mahatma Gandhi believes that, “[p]overty is the worst form of violence”(Poverty Quotes, n.a.) .It is important to acknowledge that this type of crime is not committed by the individual but by the society towards an individual. In short, poverty is a crime that continues to inflict the lower class individuals by the upper class society due to the uneven distribution of resources. Pavlich (2011) notes the following: “…law provides a justification for the bourgeois state. This helps to make law and state appear as absolute, independent forces, but both are products of bourgeois attempts to structure people’s consciousness in ways that legitimate an underlying capitalist mode of production” (p.97).  I would like to end by sharing the following quote in Durkheim’s own words: “[t]here is no society known where a more or less developed criminality is not found under different forms. No people exists whose morality is not daily infringed upon. We must therefore call crime necessary and declare that it cannot be non-existent, that the fundamental conditions of social organization, as they are understood, logically imply it”.  (Durkheim, Emile Quotes, n.a.).


“Durkheim, Emile Quotes – Quotations Book.” Welcome to Quotations Book – The Home of Famous Quotes. Retrieved from

Jones, S. (n.a).  “US Foreign Policy After 9/11.” Welcome to US Foreign Policy. Retrieved from

Pavlich, G. (2011). Law and society redefined. Canada: Oxford.  Print.

“Poverty quotes.” Find the famous quotes you need, Quotations. Retrieved from

Rosen, F. (2005). The Historical Atlas of American Crime. United States of America: Facts On File. Print.

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Canada’s unjust prostitution laws

“If nobody wants to sell sex, it is a crime to force anyone to do so. But when men or women do want to sell their bodies, they should have that full right without encountering punishment or discrimination. If the client behaves decently, the relationship between the sex buyer and the sex seller must be considered a purely private transaction”, Nils Johan Ringdal, Love For Sale. (Prostitution Quotes, n.d).  Prostitution is considered legalized, then why are there objections against these practices of keeping a common bawdy house and living on the avails of prostitution. In addition, it should be noted that the women have always faced inequality because of their status as ‘prostitutes’. I will discuss the work of two philosophical scholars of Lon Fuller and John Finnis. Moreover, I will also incorporate the review of Missing Women, Missing News: Covering Crisis in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, written by David Hugill. From reading Hugill’s work, there are three prominent themes which become prevalent to the reader; two of the themes will be discussed: power that police failed to practice and neo-liberalism.

The first theme that will be discussed is of the power that the police failed to practice. It was discussed in Hugill’s book that the police did not care about the disappearance of the women, known as prostitutes, who were identified as missing by the family members. It is important to note of an instance when the police refused to file a complaint of a missing woman in downtown because they believed that she would return herself. As stated, “Angela Jardine, who asked Vancouver police to follow up on her daughter’s disappearance in later 1998, was told not to worry and that her daughter would turn up [furthermore] [p]olice delayed producing a missing persons poster for two months…”(Hugill, 2010, pg. 10). To further exemplify, this particular missing woman was not of a particular concern to police is because of the identity that the woman held; she was known as a prostitute. Thus, she held of no importance to the police officials.

The second theme which gets discussed in Hugill’s book is neo-liberalism. The key emphasis of neo-liberalism is on individual equality and responsibility. The focus of neo-liberalism is to enable the needy individuals to gain job positions and not rely on the social services, such as welfare and social care. For neoliberalists social justice means equality of opportunities. It is further noted that the women were forced to become prostitutes because of the lack of opportunities of jobs that would help them survive.

As for Fuller and Finnis, both philosophers would argue that it is unjust to object the practices of keeping a common bawdy house and living on the avail of prostitution. The point that Fuller would assert to support his claim is as follows: he would state that there is an enactment of“…contradictory rules” (Pavlich, 2011, p.31). That is, it is unjust to object these practices when prostitution is legalized. Finnis, on the other hand, lists seven principles and it is upon following these principles that a law can be considered as morally valid. One of the seven principles which Finnis would use to object the above noted issue is as such: he would note that objection on practices such as keeping a bawdy house and living on the avail would devalue the prostitute’s life. To further exemplify, the government is being ignorant of the fact that sex workers are frequently placed at risk. As stated, “ [a]dvocates for the safety of sex workers say the provisions make the work more dangerous in specific ways: [f]or example: [l[aws against keeping a common bawdy house prevent sex workers from working indoors, where its safe [and] [l]aws against living on the avails of prostitution prevent them from hiring bodyguards” (“Should Canada”, 2012).

Pavlich, G. (2011). Law & Society Redefined. Canada: Oxford University Press.

Hugill, D. (2010). Missing women, missing news: covering crisis in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Halifax: Fernwood.

Prostitution Quotes. (n.d.). Notable Quotes. Retrieved September 22, 2012, from

(“Should Canada”, 2012). Should Canada’s prostitution laws be changed? (2012, September 21). CBCnews. Retrieved from

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