Three years ago, when Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley was acquitted of the charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter for having shot the twenty-two year old Colten Boushie when the latter with a posse of friends had invaded his farm, I spoke strongly against those who publicly denounced the verdict, including the Prime Minister and the then Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould, and, indeed, said that the Prime Minister and Minister of Justice ought to resign or be made to resign over their remarks. That I disagreed with them about the case and the verdict – I thought and still think that the RCMP were wrong to charge Stanley in the first place, that the case ought never to have made it to trial, and that “not guilty” was the only sane verdict possible – was only part of my reason for taking that stance. There was also the fact that for Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould to politicize the verdict in the way in which they did was an abuse of their office. Ironically, less than a year after this, Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould would find themselves on the opposite sides of a huge scandal about political interference in the affairs of the criminal justice system. In this scandal, Wilson-Raybould accused Trudeau of inappropriately pressuring her to retroactively apply to an ongoing case certain changes that had just been snuck through Parliament by being tagged on to a spending bill so as to benefit a large corporate donor to the Liberal Party that was under prosecution for bribing a foreign government. In this scandal, Wilson-Raybould was in the right in resisting Trudeau’s pressure but in the earlier incident, the two of them had both been guilty of political interference in the criminal justice system and in a much worse way. As bad as politicians putting pressure on prosecutors to extend leniency may be it is far worse for them to denounce jury acquittals. This is because doing the latter is a dangerous affront to the most basic principles of our criminal justice system, the very principles which distinguish civilized legal justice from tribal blood vengeance. These principles prioritize the protection of the innocent over the punishment of the guilty by giving everyone the right to a fair trial when accused of a crime, placing the burden of proof upon the prosecution, and entitling the accused to a dismissal of the charges if the conditions of a fair trial cannot be met and an acquittal if the prosecution cannot meet the standard of proof. Boushie’s family and several Native Indian organizations were taking the position that the acquittal was unjust because Native Indians were not represented on the jury due to the prospective jurors of this ethnicity having evinced prejudice against the defendant that disqualified them from performing that civic duty. In their public display of support for this position, Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould were basically saying that the system needed to be changed to make it harder for the accused to be acquitted by weakening his right to a trial by an unbiased jury.
This week the verdict was announced in the trial of Derek Chauvin. In this case the verdict was guilty. Chauvin was found guilty of three charges – unintentional second degree murder, third degree murder, and manslaughter – despite there having been only one body. As strange as that seems it might perhaps simply be the latest stage in the apotheosis of George Floyd. When Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis last year he was at first proclaimed a victim of racism and police brutality but has since climbed the ladder to martyrdom and then sainthood. If he has now been deified and made into a trinity that would explain his death being treated as a three-in-one.
Greg Gutfeld of Fox News responded to the verdict by saying “I’m glad that [Chauvin] was found guilty on all charges, even if he might not be guilty of all charges”. The exact opposite of this is the just and sane position to take – that Chauvin should have been acquitted of all charges even if he was guilty of all charges.
The reason this is the only just and sane position is because of the same principles discussed with regards to the Stanley acquittal in the first paragraph. There was not the slightest possibility of Chauvin having received a fair trial, therefore the principles of justice say that he ought not to have been tried at all and that he is entitled to be cleared of all charges.
As it so happens, the evidence does not support the conclusion that Chauvin was guilty of any of these charges. Floyd had committed a crime and resisted arrest, which was why he found himself on the ground being restrained. The knee-hold restraint Chauvin used was a nasty looking one but it was not lethal. The police bodycam video shows that his knee was not on Floyd’s neck as it appeared from the angle of the bystander video that went viral but on his shoulder blade. It was clearly not the reason Floyd couldn’t breathe and at any rate the video shows that Floyd’s breathing troubles had started before he was on the ground and under this restraint. There were at least three other factors that were more likely to have contributed to his breathing difficulties than the police hold. One of these was Floyd’s heart condition, another was the amount of fentanyl in his blood – three times higher than the dosage that nobody has ever survived. The third factor was his infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A difficulty in breathing is one of the main symptoms of the disease this virus produces when it bothers to produce a disease at all. For over a year now every death that occurred to someone infected with this virus was counted a COVID-19 death even if other morbidity factors included automobile accident injuries, gunshot wounds, or being eaten by wild animals. George Floyd, who was experiencing symptoms at the time of death that actually correlate with those known to be caused by the virus, is the sole exception of which I am aware.
Even if none of this was the case however and Chauvin’s knee actually had caused Floyd’s death he still should never have been charged and tried. I don’t say this because he is a cop. I say it because the media, professional and social, had already tried and convicted him in their own forum within a day of Floyd’s death. If this were not sufficient in itself to preclude his ever having a fair trial before an unprejudiced jury, the long hot summer of rioting and violence in Minneapolis and other major American urban centres constituted mass intimidation of prospective jurors. Then there was the blatant interference in the outcome of the trial by American political leaders including the present occupant of the White House and, most notoriously, Californian Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Unlike Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould in the Stanley trial, these did not wait to make their inappropriate remarks as ex post facto commentary on the verdict, but instead made them prior to the jury’s deliberation.
The trials of Gerald Stanley and Derek Chauvin were heavily politicized due to the racial aspect of the trials. Stanley and Chauvin are white men, Colten Boushie was a Native Indian and George Floyd was black. To the progressive commentators, activists, and politicians who politicized these trials, this was all that was necessary to come to the conclusion that racially-motivated murder had been committed. All this demonstrates, however, is just how toxic the racist ideology of progressives has become. When you politicize a trial in this way, refusing to allow the courts to do their job and decide the outcome based on law and evidence, but instead demand a guilty verdict for reasons of racial politics, the consequence of your own actions is that the only just outcome of the trial is dismissal or an acquittal regardless of actual guilt or innocence on the part of the accused. A guilty verdict, under these circumstances, would amount to a lynching.
The principles that I have defended in this essay are the principles that underlie justice in civilization. While those who have been demanding Chauvin’s head have been framing their demands in terms of “racial justice” this is not really justice in the civilized sense of the term at all, but a tribal blood vengeance that elevates blood and skin colour over law, evidence, rights and due process. This is a sign indicating a rapid slide into barbarism, one of several that we have seen recently. The insane drive to erase history (1) which kicked into high gear at the same time and in conjunction with the George Floyd riots is another. Ironically, the institution that the Left, seizing the opportunity afforded them by George Floyd’s death, sought to indict alongside the man Chauvin, the police, is also indicative of the decay of civilization into barbarism. In this case it is the slower, more gradual, decay over the course of the Modern era that is indicated. The police in the modern sense of the term is a semi-military force employed by government to spy on its own people in order to terrorize them into obedience. Like the near ubiquitous false equation of democracy – mob rule – with constitutionally restrained government, the police are an indication of how we have gradually moved from civilization towards barbarism in its totalitarian form in the Modern era. (2) What we are seeing now in the racialized bloodlust against Chauvin is a much faster move into barbarism in its anarchistic form. Both forms of barbarism are equally undesirable with the paradoxical combination of the two, which the late Sam Francis dubbed anarcho-tyranny, being the worst of all barbarisms. This is the barbarism into which we are rapidly descending.
(1)While the past itself cannot be erased, history, as John Lukacs defined it, “the remembered past” can.
(2) Totalitarianism is the idea that we, our lives, and our persons are the property of the state which has the right to do with us whatever it wishes. It is a Modern idea, the reverse side of the coin of Modern democracy, the idea that the people are collectively sovereign and the state is the voice of the people. The Modern concept of democracy is not compatible with the civilized ideal of constitutional limits or restraints on government. Totalitarianism is its inevitable logical conclusion. The civilized ideal is compatible only with the ancient, prescriptive, institutions of monarchy and parliament. In practice, totalitarianism requires the Modern police to impose the “general will” of the people. This is why totalitarian states are often called police states. The police, by contrast with the civilized institutions of monarchy and parliament, is a fundamentally barbaric institution, which is one reason why it tends to draw bullies, thugs, and other low-life scum into its ranks, offering them a quasi-legitimate venue for indulging their violent and criminal tendencies. Ironically, Derek Chauvin may very well be one of the few police officers who does not deserve to spend the rest of his life in gaol.