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Monday, November 5, 2007

What Shakespeare really thought of lawyers

As you no doubt are well aware, Pakistan is the midst of a constitutional crisis. President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has imposed emergency rule as the nation awaits an imminent decision from the Pakistan Supreme Court on the validity of his recent re-election. The Star Tribune has a piece on this, Police in Pakistan clash with lawyers protesting the state of emergency; media in stranglehold. The following is a quote from the Strib story:

Though public anger was mounting in the nation of 160 million people, which has been under military rule for much of its 60-year history, demonstrations so far have been limited largely to activists, rights workers and lawyers. All have been quickly and sometimes brutally stamped out.
For years lawyers have been trying to explain to the public what William Shakespeare meant with the oft-cited quote from Henrey VI, part 2: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

Over the years, the sentence has turned into a one-liner, but it's actually an ominous warning. When individuals or groups want to impose a dictatorship or create anarchy, the lawyers will be the first to line up against them -- and possibly get mowed down as a result. Unfortunately, what is happening in Pakistan provides a living example for those who need it. Let's hope nothing here ever puts our system of constitutional government to such a serious test.


Anonymous said...

Excuse me? it already has, and we have already failed. Did you expect an advanced nation like ours to have the same means to get to the same effects?
It is sad that Pakistan lawyers have to turn militant rather than follow Gandhi's example. It is even sadder that our lawyers do not even recognize they have turned into lambs.

Karen M said...

At our group blog, AchievingOurCountry.blogspot.com, we are trying to help create a critical mass of online support for Black Flag Week, March 9-15. Hopefully, these efforts will also translate into even more visual results.

If you are interested in posting something new and more current for BFW, please feel free to use any of the links, articles, logos, etc. that we have posted at AOC.

It's important for all of us to share our resources and to communicate about such issues, if we wish to have any effect at all. Even if all we can do is show our support for the Pakistani lawyers' efforts to restore the Rule of Law.