Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ethics and Culture

Since Thursday, I haven’t posted.

Writers block. Hit me right in the head. Paralysed the fingers, made me just wish to read.

But even the reading is not going on that well.

Now, instead of being out somewhere else, I am seated on a keyboard, trying to make sense of words.

Last post, we were debating different ideals and ideas. Now, here is another example of a dilemma which is very ‘western’ in concept.

You know about ‘lawyer’s privileges’? A client can tell a lawyer that he or she is guilty. And the lawyer still has to go to court and defend the client. And of course, what the client tells the lawyer is under seal. The lawyer cannot testify against a client.

Well, a pretty story. Two lawyers, with a client. The client was accused of some murders. He was convicted. He told his two lawyers that he was the murderer in another case, in which another man was charged.

The two lawyers felt they could do nothing about this. The innocent man was taken to a sentencing hearing. The two lawyers were there. They were relieved when the man was given a life sentence, instead of death. They knew that he was innocent, but they could not tell anyone.

Time passes. 26 years, that is, before they did manage to get a judge to get their testimony. 26 years when the innocent man was in prison.

Now, because he was proven guilty, he cannot just be released. Bureaucratic red tape and the law. He is still in prison.


If I was one of those lawyers, would I have done that?

I don’t know. I am not sure that I would.

I am of the opinion that ideals are not perfect. We always have to temper them with reason- not follow them always. A guide instead of the roadmap.

But then, I am a Ugandan, an African with my life experience basically African, Ugandan. I cannot sit and judge those lawyers. Though, like the innocent man in prison for 26 years, I wonder, is the integrity of my word worth the life imprisonment of an innocent man?


PS. Strange to observe this, but I think that we as Africans judge guilt differently from the 'western' justice system. The ‘western’ sense is that a person is not guilty until proven so in a court of law. Ours? The burden of proof is usually on the accused.

Why do I think so?

Again and again I have heard that the police are so corrupt that they release thieves taken to them. That they imprison accused persons for a short time and then release them.
That is one of the reasons the common man here seems so distinctly contemptuous of the police. And why mob justice is so rife, I think. Take a thief to the police cells, and he will be out in a couple of days, so reasons the community. Yet, in their eyes, a thief deserves death, and the sooner it is meted out, the better. So, the cry, ‘thief!’ will turn a street of strangers into a mob which will kill one so accused. If he runs, his fate is sealed.



Princess said...

I'd have told the judge and damn ethics! My word could never carry the worth of an innocent man's life!
26 years.Good God!
Ah, but the light of idealism is so bright it clouds the eye...
Mayhaps my loyalty to my profession would have held my tongue...
But I'm certain that the stirrings of my heart would not have let me be.

The 27th Comrade said...

After the Revolution, there will be no lawyers.

Who's signing up already?


Anonymous said...

I'm ashamed to admit :) I studied law but do not 'practice' law.... does that get me a reprieve? African concept of justice vs- Western concept of justice- different yet the same. Would make for an interesting thesis. Glad you're back

DeTamble said...

I would have told. No one's word is worth an innocent man's life!

@27th: I'll join up as the 28th, but only if you allow lawyers and accept that it was the laws that were flawed and should be changed.

gayuganda said...

another 'open your eyes' thing.

27th, I will not sign up. You may kill me after the revolution. (For being gay, of course!)

Wildeyearnings. Ha, a lawyer. 27th, let us organise a lynch party.
On other thought, he is gay, so no, no, he is forgiven!


DeTamble said...

@GUG: There will be no gay killings after the revolution...and if there is I will personally rip out 27th's throat.

Princess said...

*Eyes open.
Damn the ethics!

The 27th Comrade said...

@GUG: After the revolution, lesbians will have their own members of parliament, like the disabled and women and the youth. :o)
For the rest of you, I can't promise much. We'll see.

But definitely no killing you for ... wait, except if you keep clinging to the West like it's gay. :o)

@DeTamble: It's the lawyers, not the laws, of course.
They shut up and let the man in for so long. The law is good, the people are fucks.

DeTamble said...

@27th: After the Revolution there will be no West! And there will be no need for lesbians to have their own member of parliament. Since there will be no discrimination based on sexual preference and if there is then the discriminators will be killed. And you may well be one of them!

Leave the lawyers alone, they aren't the ones who made such stupid ethics laws. Lawyers, despite their name, aren't actually in a position to make laws.

The 27th Comrade said...

These lawyers have chosen a profession that requires dishonesty of them. Why should we arrest hired killers and the like, and not arrest hired liars? They both do this shit for money.

Then again, I realised that if we arrested everyone I thought was bad, I'd be arrested twenty-five-point-six-two times every minute (I counted, yes). So ... laissez-faire?

After the Revolution there will be a West. It will be a symbolic West - the dissident elements, all. :o)

And, no, the lesbians won't be segregated against, but non-lesbians would inevitably forget about their concerns. Like, for example, Kampala is represented in Parliament, but not that she's suffering segregation. :o)

DeTamble said...

Hmmm. Maybe. I think we need to discuss this in more detail, at a later date. I'm free in November. Compile your Revolutionary notes by then and we shall have chat, a council of war if you will.

The 27th Comrade said...

Sure, DeTamble. I'll be there, and it'll be revolutionary. ;o)

(The location of this cyber-flirting is most unusual.)

gayuganda said...

It certainly is an interesting place. Despite your homophobic remarks and all, meeting the love of your heart and flirting here makes it so, er, interesting.

Shows that love is love, gay or straight huh?

Princess said...

A lot of drama does evolve on your blog, does it not, GUG? :D

gayuganda said...

Certainly princess.

Now, I would love to have you hooked up too... Must make sure that I entice another person here!

Princess said...

Quite the match-maker, huh?
But I set such a tall order...or so I tell myself.Perhaps new experience will tell me different.
So! Go on and entice!

DeTamble said...

I wasn't actually flirting, I was being serious. Compile those notes.

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