“Ignorance of the law is no excuse in any country. If it were, the laws would lose their effect, because it can always be pretended.”Thomas Jefferson
The quote by Thomas Jefferson, that starts off this piece, is rooted in a more ancient principle of Roman law. Roman law states,”ignorantia juris non excusat” or loosely translated “ignorance of the law is no excuse”. Here, Jefferson reminds us that the people are presumed to know the law, in order for the law to be effective. I would add, for the laws to be enforced properly.
Lawlessness and Fear
I have struggled this week to even begin this post. I have experienced mixed emotions in the last week. Other aspects of the attack on the Capitol have been addressed in my previous posts: https://sues.life/2021/01/11/consequences/ and https://sues.life/2021/01/17/freedom/. Now, I need to address different, even more serious areas.
A Pillar of Democracy Attacked
My thoughts have mingled with hope and fearfulness. Hope at the promise of renewed leadership in the United States. Why did I experience fearfulness? Well, after the facts and evidence surrounding the treasonous attacks on the Capitol were released, I realized something. It was that what was really being assaulted that day, were the pillars of democracy itself. One of the pillars is the rule of law. This was extremism. It was an insurrection.
Yet, there are instigators and assailants out there who took part in the attack on the Capitol and claim ignorance. They fake a misunderstanding of what they were doing or promoting or agitating. Now if they feigned ignorance for jaywalking or some less violent act, I would see how their pleas might have a chance of having merit.
Thugs and Dangerous Acts
But this? This is blatant conspiracy to commit a variety of unlawful acts against our democracy. I used my past legal training and my layperson’s resources. I did this to try and gain an understanding of the attack. I have skimmed through various charges against the perpetrators. Those I looked at are federal legal charges against the attackers. I have researched several sources and mediums. The attackers used violence and force, especially on Capitol law enforcement officers. They did so in the Capitol. The Capitol houses an important institution, Congress. Congress represents the People and it is a restricted building.
There was even an alleged attempt to harm the Vice President of the United States if accounts, footage and recordings are to be believed. As of the date of writing this on January 23rd, 2021, 135 Federal cases have been brought against individuals. The average age of individuals is 41-years-old. Individuals came from 36 states and the District of Columbia. 119 men and 16 women have been charged. https://extremism.gwu.edu/Capitol-Hill-Cases. In other words, this was a diverse operation conducted by a whole lot of people who really should have known the consequences of their actions.
Some people who have had cases brought against them, are part of paramilitary organizations. One that is specifically mentioned recruits current and former military, law enforcement and first responders. Their actions appear pre-meditated because they may have trained for the insurrection. If any group knows the consequences of breaking the law, it would be this group. Yet, they marched forward that day believing that the then President of the United States was the supreme Law. No other institution had sway. No other institution of Democracy meant anything to them. Therefore, they do not believe in the separation of powers nor in the rule of law. Certain individuals had possession of weapons and explosives or they had been planted in the area that day.
In conclusion, it is my opinion that every instigator, perpetrator and offender of this treasonous act must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. If they are not, this pillar of democracy called the Rule of Law will look weak. And in turn, this, our Democracy, will be depleted and weakened. The perpetrators claimed that they wanted to make America great again, but what they may succeed in doing is to make America look weak, instead. We must not allow this to happen.
*I am aware that I am writing this as a layperson and expressing my own opinion. I do not represent that I am an expert in this context. Investigations by various departments are ongoing and circumstances and evidence may change.