Humanist Perspectives: issue 164, When the Law is an Ass

When the Law is an Ass
issue 164, Spring 2008

cover of issue 164
editorial & special report
Punishing Acts of Mercy:
Robert Latimer & the Justice System
by Gary Bauslaugh

The story of Robert Latimer and his act of mercy killing, and the Canadian Justice system’s reaction, is the background for a detailed look at Latimer’s December 2007 parole hearing and its aftermath. The hearing raises serious questions about the competence of Board members and about the way they are selected.

> read Jason Gratl’s appeal to the National Parole Board (755 kb PDF)

reflections of a humanist
the Significance of Juries by Theo Meijer
The strengths and weakness of the Jury system are looked at, along with a comparison to the European system of justice which is based upon an investigative, rather than adversarial, approach to determining guilt.


Authority & Civil Disobedience by Bryson Brown
Is it ever right to break the law? Bryson Brown examines the difficult issue of civil disobedience.
Drugs, Drug Policy & Crime:
100 Years of Asinine Law
by Craig Jones

Craig Jones argues that our laws and policies regarding drug abuse do more harm than good. Prohibition is based more on ideology than evidence.

> read this article’s endnotes

columns & departments

things that go bump
Crime & Punishment by James Alcock
The way in which the justice system treats victims can sometimes be more damaging than the crime itself. James Alcock argues for a greater emphasis on restorative justice and reconciliation.
letter from new york
Lawlessness in Berlin & Brooklyn by Jonny Diamond
Jonny Diamond’s experience with public celebrations in Berlin and Brooklyn leads him to wonder if personal behaviour is over-legislated in the USA.
practical philosophy
Pressing for Remorse? by Trudy Govier
Govier looks at problems involving the expression of regret. Should we demand remorse from those who commit crimes?
the Pot Prohibition Complex by Shirley Goldberg
The “arbitrary, counterproductive and inhumane nature of drug laws”, while apparently eluding our lawmakers, has been exposed by various filmmakers.

last word

Why the Law is (Sometimes) an Ass by Dale Lovick
A former legislator looks at how ideologies shape political decisions and lead to irrational laws.

Exclusive Web Supplements

My Brother’s Keeper by Ian Johnston
Ian Johston discusses misperceptions of our justice system, and current attempts to address this ignorance.
> read article online