Author Archives: ronnygill

Deconstruction is Justice

Jacques Derrida, famous for his idea of deconstruction, stats that deconstruction is justice. First, we must look at the idea behind deconstruction, which defined in the book, states “Deconstruction is precisely a way to think about what is involved when ordinary flows of language are disrupted (and subsequent images of being reframed)” (Pavlich, 2011). Essential, language is and always has been based upon grammatology, which is to say that there has always been a recognized pattern of how words and signs will relate to each other, creating conceptions that would be quite solid in foundation. Now, if we were to look at a statement, and then ‘deconstruct’ it to see what alternate meanings could come of it, we would understand where the idea of deconstruction comes from. It is to provide alternative meanings to statements that have already been made. This brings about the idea that words will mean something to every person, and sometimes one person can interpret a phrase in a way that was unintended by the creator.
In the eyes of Derrida, Law is absolute, in that it is a precise calculation. Justice on the other hand is not calculable, as there is no precise calculation of what justice is. Therefore, Derrida argues that deconstruction is justice, as justice is attained when one will take something known, and try to manipulate it to provide justice. I would agree with Derrida in that deconstruction is justice, as we are always in a constant struggle to find justice, and the way to find justice is application of law, and interpretation of those laws as they are written. For example, when a judge is overseeing a case, it is not always a cut and dry application of the law. The law has to be applied specifically to the case, and thus interpretations of the law are in the eye of the beholder, which in this case, would be the judge. Derrida’s third paradox, in which he states that you can never find justice in the present, it is something that one is reaching for, means that justice is not always clear and can be provided in an instant. It is something that we strive for and something that can sometimes take time. Interpreting, and therefore, ‘deconstructing’ laws so that they apply to cases to provide justice is a daily struggle, and we can see from creation of new laws or modification to current laws, that deconstruction is apparent and is happening today.

Pavlich, G. (2011). Law and Society Redefined. Ontario, Canada: Oxford

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Making Sense of States of Exception

According to Agamben, the state of exception deals with a “new sort of ‘biopolitical’ sovereignty that blurs Aristotelian distinctions between Zoe and bios, between ‘natural life’ and ‘political life’, what is determined and what is not” (Pavlich, 2011). In essence, this means that the current government in power may grant a form of immunity to themselves, and grant and exception from punishment, but this immunity is granted in only states of emergency and crisis. This is seen to be for the better of mankind and the best interest of the public. The government’s power will thus surpass what limits it legally, making it a sort of super power. This was a continuation of the idea of Carl Schmitt, where he states that “Sovereign is he who decides on exception” (Pavlich, 2011). This idea of Schmitt exemplified that the ruling power was able to do whatever they wanted when they declared a state of exception, including actions that impose on the public’s inherent rights.

One example of the government’s ability to employ their ‘super power’ can be seen with Canada’s War Measures Act, which would limit the civil rights of the public, but this war measures act was put into place as it was seen to be in the best interest of the public, by the government. This was done in response to the actions of the FLQ, so the government did what they had to do in Quebec to ensure safety and well-being of the public. As this shows, sovereign power is able to put itself above the law, and essentially do they want and not be bound by legal boundaries of any sort.

Another example that we can discuss (which was looked at in class) is the issues around Guantanamo Bay. The government of the United States (enacted by George W. Bush) created a detainment facility in which human rights are heavily infringed upon, yet this is something that is set up by the government. This is a clear example of how the ruling power can be held above the law and do thing which, if others did, would be held liable and punished by law. The detainees of Guantanamo Bay are treated with no respect, and put through harsh torture, which Mike clarified in class has now been changed to intensive interrogation tactics. This is a direct example of sovereign using their power to do as they please, as they state that this is for the good of the public, but few detainees have actually been charged.

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

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Marx Ideology

“Law’s repressive coercive (material) functions are obscured by its ideological (symbolic) functions that portray it as equal, universal, and just”.

I think that for the most part, this quote is true. This is because in theory, laws are made to appear as if they are universally applicable, and are fair and just, thus the creation of laws, because society would not approve of unjust laws. However, this is not always true. Society is governed by a set of laws, and each set of laws is different for each society. For example, individual provinces have set laws that appear to be best suited for that province, but may not be the same in another province. This is seen in the United States as well, where something is seen as a crime in one state, and not in another. For example, in the United States, there are 9 states in which same – sex marriage is prohibited by in statute, and thirty states in which same – sex marriage is prohibited in their constitution (Mardell, 2012). Only a few states support the idea of same – sex marriage. The law behind this can be seen because same – sex marriage was not a ‘normal’ practice in society many years ago, but that has all changed now. Same – sex marriages are recognized in many countries across the world, and many societies in which it is banned are arguing that it should be legalized because the law should not be able to prohibit two adults to get married.

Marx talks about class struggles and has created a model which outlines superstructures for ideological, political, legal, and cultural societies. I feel that larger corporations are not held to the same legal standard as regular citizens of a certain society. In the media, every day we see news about murders and drug crime, but never about corporate and white collar crime. The fact of the matter is that corporate crime occurs just as often as street crimes, but since larger corporations have power, they, in essence, are held at a different level and it appears as if the law is not applied to them in the same way as it is to citizens. For example, when larger corporations are taking shortcuts and fully knowledgeable about the safety hazard that are put forth from these shortcuts, but still go on with it, then the damage done to the individuals is outweighed by the profit margin. The general public rarely hears about these cases because the larger corporations either own or have a substantial number of shares in media companies, and will advertise on these media outlets. Since advertisements are media’s main source of income, they are obligated to overlook the stories that make these corporations seem bad and don’t air the news which will give the corporations a negative name. In addition to this, corporations will often try to pay out people for their injuries due to faulty material used, rather than take the legal route. Also, when corporations are seen polluting the air and environment, which directly effects the quality of life for surrounding citizens, no legal action is taken, but the outcome of those corporations’ actions’ can often lead to death, which is similar to others’ actions, but the others are prosecuted for murder, etc. and the corporations are never seen facing any legal action.

In summary, I do agree with the statement that the law, at first glance, appears to be fair and just, and can be universally applicable, but in reality, it is not always carried out this way. Divisions in classes cause differences in the way the law is applied, and the elite class and corporate level individuals can see as getting away with crime, and not facing legal action because of their social class and power.

Mark Mardell (May 9, 2012). “North Carolina approves constitutional ban on gay union”

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Durkheim Socializes the Law

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.

The idea put forth by Durkheim which states that crime is a normal part of society, and that it is necessary and indispensable is based upon his thought that no matter in which society one looks, there will always be crime. Crime is an inevitable aspect of society, and will always be present as not everyone conforms to social norms and the laws put forth by the government. There will always be those who oppose the law. Durkheim states that ‘philosophy of law cannot be separated from it sociology’ (Pavlich, 2011, p.79). In essence, he is trying to say that one should go back and look at which sociological factors played a part in the creation of these laws, as there must have been some acts in society that were not mutually agreed upon by the majority, hence the creation of law to maintain order in society, as per the creators of law and upholders of social norms.

The idea that crime is a necessary and indispensable act is quite interesting. Durkheim argues that crime brings a sense of normalcy to any society, and that society itself is impossible to be free of crime. Without crime, one would not know what normal is, because with crime, there is a clear outline of what is normal, which is seen to be law abiding, and what is not normal, which is crime. I agree with Durkheim in that where there is a society, there will be crime. It is hard to think about the perfect society where no one breaks the law and engages in criminal activity. This leaves no room for creative thought and opposition for unjust laws. If all of society conforms to a set of laws that may or may not be just, this will lead to perfect society, in which every single individual is law abiding. Although this thought is nice, it is just not realistic.

When thinking of a contemporary example where many people break the law would be smoking marijuana. Lots of people do it, and there are studies done to prove the health effects of it are less severe than that of cigarettes and alcohol, but still it’s not legal. I would think Durkheim would argue that if the greater society deem it be socially acceptable, that the crime should be de-criminalized as society are the creators of law, thus legalization of marijuana should be allowed.

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

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