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Aug 10 2010

First, kill all the lawyers

All:
God save your majesty!

Cade:
I thank you, good people—there shall be no money; all shall eat
and drink on my score, and I will apparel them all in one livery,
that they may agree like brothers, and worship me their lord.

Dick:
The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.

Cade:
Nay, that I mean to do.

Henry The Sixth, Part 2 Act 4, scene 2, 71–78

The common temptation is to read the above quote out of context, and to imagine that killing the lawyers will somehow usher in a Utopian society. Certainly we can all think of our favourite lawyer sterotype – the slick corporate lawyer who gets the megacorporation out of having to pay damages, the wily defence lawyer who helps the rich defendant escape punishment, the aggressive divorce lawyer who strips a man of all of his possessions through litigation.

I’d like to add another stereotype to your arsenal: the lawyer who is kidnapped for have the temerity to assert that his client has the right not to be executed for having a boyfriend:

Mohammad Mostafaei, who is defending the woman (Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtani), was called in on Saturday for questioning at Tehran’s Evin prison. Amnesty (International) says he appears to have gone missing after his release. The authorities have since detained his wife and brother-in-law, it says.

I attended a rally here in Vancouver in support of this woman. It was sparsely attended, and largely failed to capture the attention of the crowds going by – highly disappointing. There was one highlight, however. During a speech, the speaker decried the practice of stoning and the oppression of women in Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. A man in the crowd began shouting his dissent, saying that women were well-treated in Saudi Arabia. The speaker on stage pointed out that women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive. The heckler shot back, and I am not making this up, that they didn’t want to drive. I am gratified that the audience immediately broke out laughing. It is utterly ridiculous to pass a law banning someone from doing something that they don’t want to do in the first place. If the women of Saudi Arabia don’t want to drive, they should be able to choose not to – no need for a law.

At any rate, the execution of this woman appears to be a foregone conclusion. The government of Iran has decided that she is guilty and worthy of death, and no amount of legal argument or international protest seems sufficient to sway them from their course. Considering what’s happening in Iran, and in Gaza, and the ongoing idiocy of Pakistan, it seems like the Middle East is leading the bold charge forward into the 15th century.

UPDATE: Mr. Mostafaei has turned up in Turkey and is seeking asylum there.

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