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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • by ziggy (25) on 2002.02.12 9:18 (#4384) Journal
    To take a legal example: are the courts obliged to mindlessly repeat the patterns in precedence, for the sake of consistency (which is argued to be a specific form of "equal treatment under the law"), even when precedent is plainly unfair in other aspects?
    First, IANAL, but I have received impeccable legal training from The Networks over the years through such fine programming as Ally McBeal, LA Law, Law & Order (all three), Philly, and The Simpsons. :-)

    Now, with the disclaimers out of the way, I think you're missing an important aspect of the consistency and fairness of case law. In the American legal system, the adversarial process is in place so that both the plantiff and defendant get a shot at citing (presumably relevant) case law that bolster their case. So it's not a cut-and-dry issue of citing legal precedent and applying the law consistenly for the sake of consistency, but rather finding the best way to interpret the law in this particular instance. (FSDO "best", which sometimes includes the judge saying "I don't like this case", or "this case has no merits", or some other travesty.) So the perspective matters here.

    Second, WRT The Axis Of Evil(tm) vs. The Axis Of Powers Who Possess Nukular Weapons Who We Don't Want To Piss Off(tm), perspective matters too. Obviously, China is not in the Axis of Evil(tm) because they simultaneously possess one billion customers we desperately want to sell to, and a boundless supply of cheap labor to make products we want to buy (like American Flags). But the one thing that the Axis Of Evil(tm) powers have in common is that they condone violence against Americans and American interests and are actively or passively encouraging the construction of weapons of mass distruction to engage in such violence. So, depending on your perspective, the declaration of the Axis Of Evil is consistent in a way.

    The real issue here is that the rationalization that can find consistency in the declaration of Evil(tm) is fundementally flawed and illogical. It's a political statement that must take into account all sorts of unstated goals, pacts, alliances and such that cannot be evaluated by simple logic alone. Otherwise Saudi Arabia would be on a list somewhere even though the Saudi royal house isn't enganging in the construction of weapons of mass distruction (unless you consider billions of gallons of burning crude oil to be a weapon).

    • But "law in this particular instance" I think missing what TorgoX is saying. What if even that is unfair? What if we decide previous precedents are *wrong*, and if we had to do them over again, we would judge them differently than we did at the time? Are we obligated to go along for the sake of consistency?

      I think Yes, we are, *unless* we decide that we were wrong before and therefore set a new precedent (all other things being equal, the more recent precedent wins out). That is exactly what happens o
      • Sure, economics plays a role in how they react to us, and vice versa, but even if it didn't, China just isn't going to try to use their weapons against us in the forseeable future

        If not for economic reasons, why wouldn't China's government start a war with the US's government, and/or vice versa?