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Edward Hitchens




Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Aug, 2006 3:39 pm    Post subject: Well, it was worth a try...         Reply with quote

Check out this hilarious article from a back issue of Renaissance Magazine: Laughing Out Loud

Trial By Combat Not a Thing of the Past? by Judith Kane

Appearing in court for failure to pay a fine of about $40 for a minor traffic offense, a sixty-year-old unemployed machanic from Suffolk, England refused to enter a plea and instead invoked the ancient right to Trial by Combat, which involves the accused fighting his accuser to the death.

Originally charged with failing to notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that he would no longer be operating his motorcylce on public roadways, former seaman Leon Humphreys claimed that under a Medieval law that has never been taken off the statute books, he is entitled to settle his dispute by fighting a champion of the licensing agency to the death. He said that although he is unsure about how weapons would be chosen or by whom, he would be quite happy to fight with Samurai swords, Ghurka knives, or even blacksmith's hammers.

Humphreys' attempt to invoke the archaic law was rejected by Bury St. Edmunds magistrates, who levied nearly $500 in additional fines and court costs for failure to pay the original fine and refusal to enter a plea.


The scary part is I think we all know a few people who would try this!

"The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest." Thomas Jefferson
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Aug, 2006 9:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting comment about honour and/or being a bit nuts and the fact that a law still on the books is not being honoured. Laughing Out Loud
( Bad pun alert. )

If the law has any meaning, then all laws that are on the books are equally valid, or none are, if magistrates can pick and choose which ones count.

Now this is a theoretical argument that makes sense in the absolute but for practical reasons ( common sense ) most old laws still on the books are ignored: Actually there are so many of these old laws that I'm sure we should ALL be in jail by now if they were all to be applied. Oh, and one can't use ignorance of the law as an excuse. ( Never thought this made any sense except for the fact that not a single law would be immune from this defence if it was allowed. )

Legislators time might be better employed deleting bad laws rather than inventing new bad laws: Maybe a department of
De-legislation. Razz

Probably still illegal to wear purple if not a King. Eek!

Hmmmmm ....... Bringing back duels might put a little honesty and courtesy back into politics though. Wink Laughing Out Loud

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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R. D. Simpson




Location: Grand Rapids, MI
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Aug, 2006 10:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:

Legislators time might be better employed deleting bad laws rather than inventing new bad laws: Maybe a department of
De-legislation. Razz


Amusingly, that suggestion-- a legislative house with the sole purpose repealing bad laws-- was made by a character in Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
But I'm horribly off topic, so I'd better shut up now. Big Grin

Gloria Virtutem Sequitur
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Carl Goff




Location: Florida
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 12:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:

Hmmmmm ....... Bringing back duels might put a little honesty and courtesy back into politics though. Wink Laughing Out Loud


I've had the same idea myself, albeit not in jest.

Oh, East of sands and sunlit gulf, your blood is thin, your gods are few;
You could not break the Northern wolf and now the wolf has turned on you.
The fires that light the coasts of Spain fling shadows on the Eastern strand.
Master, your slave has come again with torch and axe in his right hand!
-Robert E. Howard
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D. Bell




Location: New Zealand
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 2:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Actually, Trial by Combat was abolished in England in 1819 so the magistrates were right to refuse him.

Taken from Wikipedia:
"Wager of battel remained in two forms of action dear to the honour-bound hearts of the aristocracy, however. The first was the writ of right, the most direct way at common law of challenging someone's right to a piece of real property. The second was the criminal appeal, a private criminal prosecution instituted by the accuser directly against the accused. It was not, like the contemporary appeal, a proceeding in a court of superior jurisdiction reviewing the proceedings of a lower court.

Such a private prosecution was last conducted in the case of Ashford v. Thornton in 1818, as recorded in The Newgate Calendar. [1] Pronouncing judgment in favour of the accused's plea claiming the wager of battel, Justice Bayley of the King's Bench said that:

One of the inconveniences of this procedure is, that the party who institutes it must be willing, if required, to stake his life in support of his accusation.

The accusation was quickly withdrawn after this judgment. Parliament abolished wager of battel the following year, in 1819, and at the same time they also abolished the writ of right and criminal appeals."

Click here for more information on the case of Ashford v. Thornton. It contains a detailed description of the procedure for Trial by combat in England about 80% of the way down the page, including a list of people who are not required to answer a challenge - "Where the appellant was under fourteen or above sixty years of age, or was a woman or a priest, or a peer, or, lastly, a citizen of London, because the peaceful habits of the citizens were supposed to unfit them for battle."
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Greyson Brown




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 6:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kind of along the same lines, if I'm going to get in any trouble while in the military (and I don't intend to, this is just hypothetical), I want it to be under Article 114 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). That is the article that prohibits dueling. Why did they leave it in there when they reviewed the UCMJ about 20 years ago? I haven't the foggiest. Probably because of people like that mechanic and myself. Laughing Out Loud

-Grey

"So long as I can keep the path of honor I am well content."
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The White Company
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Sean Belair
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Joined: 08 Aug 2006

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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 9:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

if i'm not mistaken duelling is still legal in new orleans as long as you pay for a judge (to enter in a verdict of mutual self defence) and ither a medic or mortician depending on how far you intend to take it. i know its not trial by combat but still interesting.
i realy hope its true
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Sean Belair
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 10:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

ive been trying to find facts to back this up but cant find anything one way or the other.
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 11:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Belair wrote:
if i'm not mistaken duelling is still legal in new orleans as long as you pay for a judge (to enter in a verdict of mutual self defence) and ither a medic or mortician depending on how far you intend to take it. i know its not trial by combat but still interesting.
i realy hope its true


I don't think I'd be willing to bet prison time or the death penalty against the idea that an outdated law will be upheld in court.

TRITONWORKS Custom Scabbards
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 11:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

R. D. Simpson wrote:
Jean Thibodeau wrote:

Legislators time might be better employed deleting bad laws rather than inventing new bad laws: Maybe a department of
De-legislation. Razz


Amusingly, that suggestion-- a legislative house with the sole purpose repealing bad laws-- was made by a character in Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
But I'm horribly off topic, so I'd better shut up now. Big Grin


Ah, read that book years ago so I guess the notion sort of stuck even if I didn't remember the source.

I did read ALL the Heinlein years ago ( decades ago. Eek! ) R.D. : Thank for reminding me where the idea came from.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 12:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Carl Goff wrote:
Jean Thibodeau wrote:

Hmmmmm ....... Bringing back duels might put a little honesty and courtesy back into politics though. Wink Laughing Out Loud


I've had the same idea myself, albeit not in jest.


Who says I'm joking. Razz I think the case could be made that in societies where one can challenge a liar or a scam artist to a duel are more civilized, healthy, than societies where all " violence " is the exclusive purview of the state.

Although a duel shouldn't be for anything trivial or used by bullies to intimidate the weak: Something that did happen when professional fighters could be hired by the rich to fight for them or skilled fighters would start arguments because they were bullies or as a way to extort money. ( " Give me money and I will accept your apology. Wink " )

So the argument against duels can also be made.

But often the reason for banning duels was more one of shying away from personal responsibility for one's words or actions and the idea that personal violence is never justified by " civilized societies.

Pushed to it's extreme this attitude doesn't stop with banning duels and gets pushed to making
legitimate selfdefence illegal with very bad legislation i.e. the more extreme forms of pacifism where one does nothing to stop evil and one IS the criminal if one dares to raise a hand against an attacker.

O.K. I took the subject past the joke to the serious. ( But just for the fun of it. Razz )

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Ken Rankin




Location: North Carolina
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 8:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greyson Brown wrote:
Kind of along the same lines, if I'm going to get in any trouble while in the military (and I don't intend to, this is just hypothetical), I want it to be under Article 114 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). That is the article that prohibits dueling. Why did they leave it in there when they reviewed the UCMJ about 20 years ago? I haven't the foggiest. Probably because of people like that mechanic and myself. Laughing Out Loud

-Grey


That reminds me of when I was in AIT, when we did drill our CO would pull out the most obscure drills, once we had to mount and dismount, which would have been fine had we had horses Eek!

Ken Eek!
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R. D. Simpson




Location: Grand Rapids, MI
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 9:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
I think the case could be made that in societies where one can challenge a liar or a scam artist to a duel are more civilized, healthy, than societies where all " violence " is the exclusive purview of the state.

I agree, at least to a point. I work in a rehabilitative home for juvenile offenders, and I've often thought that 20, or 15, or even 10 years ago, a lot of these kids would have gotten the idea that their behavior was unacceptable after being taken to task a few times by their schoolmates.
In today's schools(at least in the US ), however, "zero tolerance" policies on fighting have seen to it that the more pro-social students don't dare take physical action. As a result, the only consequence for the bullies is often suspension, which doesn't phase them one bit-- it just means they have a few days that they don't have to go to school. WTF?!
I can't help thinking that a truly civilized society would alow the kind of proportional response that could help to rein in some of this anti-social behavior.

Gloria Virtutem Sequitur
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Edward Hitchens




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 11:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

R. D. Simpson wrote:
In today's schools(at least in the US ), however, "zero tolerance" policies on fighting have seen to it that the more pro-social students don't dare take physical action.


This was pretty much the case where I went to school as a kid (up thru high school). If you retaliated after being harassed or attacked by a bully, you got in just as much trouble as the one who started it. The argument of self-defense would never fly. To the school admin, a fight was a fight regardless of the circumstances or motive(s). As a result bullies were abundant.

"The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest." Thomas Jefferson
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Carl Goff




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PostPosted: Wed 23 Aug, 2006 12:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Edward Hitchens wrote:
R. D. Simpson wrote:
In today's schools(at least in the US ), however, "zero tolerance" policies on fighting have seen to it that the more pro-social students don't dare take physical action.


This was pretty much the case where I went to school as a kid (up thru high school). If you retaliated after being harassed or attacked by a bully, you got in just as much trouble as the one who started it. The argument of self-defense would never fly. To the school admin, a fight was a fight regardless of the circumstances or motive(s). As a result bullies were abundant.


Do not start me on this. I had to put up with SO MUCH crap growing up because I'd be suspended/expelled for fighting back. There's still a few people I'd cheerfully beat the crap out of if I ever see them again.

Oh, East of sands and sunlit gulf, your blood is thin, your gods are few;
You could not break the Northern wolf and now the wolf has turned on you.
The fires that light the coasts of Spain fling shadows on the Eastern strand.
Master, your slave has come again with torch and axe in his right hand!
-Robert E. Howard
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 23 Aug, 2006 1:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I guess the key word or concept is proportionality and when rules reward the bullies and punish the ones defending themselves it is almost a guaranty that this will create a dysfunctional society: The perceived unfairness leads to more violence ( a sense of revolt ) rather than less, as trust in the basic justice of the law becomes close to nil.

Oh, I remember reading that fairness and a sense of justice is hardwired into primates and humans i.e. cheaters, liars and bullies are normally punished or shunned when a societie's official justice system is a good match to this instinctive sense of justice or fairness.

The kids who are bullied expect no help from the system and the great danger is that they end up either as passive victims or they grossly overreact resulting in exactly in the tragedies that the ZERO tolerance / ZERO common sense policies were supposed to prevent.

I think the problem is a mistaken belief and confusion that passivity and lack of courage to act is a sign of being a peaceful and non violent citizen as opposed to self control, courage plus a sense of justice, i.e. " good manners and respect for others ", are the real qualities of a peaceful person: Person that is not sheep ! Laughing Out Loud

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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James Odell




Location: Belton, Texas
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Aug, 2006 4:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:


I think the problem is a mistaken belief and confusion that passivity and lack of courage to act is a sign of being a peaceful and non violent citizen as opposed to self control, courage plus a sense of justice, i.e. " good manners and respect for others ", are the real qualities of a peaceful person: Person that is not sheep ! Laughing Out Loud


i once had it explained to me that the true definition of being "meek" was the ability to determine an appropriate response and never exceed that response. the example given at the time was that one could easily shatter an elbow with a forcefully enough blow, but that often times all one had to do was seize ones assailants wrist and push their elbow just past locked. thus sending a painful message that worse could easily have come, but that they have been granted mercy.

oddly enough it was a karate black belt come sunday school teacher that gave this lecture.

it just seems that the world tends to regard passivity as an admirable trait; and i cant help but think that when it comes down to it a lot of people would rather cower in fear than act. silly sheep, what if wolves wander into the pasture ,eh?
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T.L. Johnson





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PostPosted: Sun 03 Sep, 2006 12:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
...Although a duel shouldn't be for anything trivial or used by bullies to intimidate the weak: Something that did happen when professional fighters could be hired by the rich to fight for them or skilled fighters would start arguments because they were bullies or as a way to extort money. ( " Give me money and I will accept your apology. Wink " )...

In duelling etiquette, the person issuing the challenge did not have the right to choose the weapons involved. That right fell to the person being challenged. Which means a bully who is a crack shot may be in for a surprise if he challenged a geek who knows how to handle a sword...
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Sep, 2006 10:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

T.L. Johnson wrote:
Jean Thibodeau wrote:
...Although a duel shouldn't be for anything trivial or used by bullies to intimidate the weak: Something that did happen when professional fighters could be hired by the rich to fight for them or skilled fighters would start arguments because they were bullies or as a way to extort money. ( " Give me money and I will accept your apology. Wink " )...

In duelling etiquette, the person issuing the challenge did not have the right to choose the weapons involved. That right fell to the person being challenged. Which means a bully who is a crack shot may be in for a surprise if he challenged a geek who knows how to handle a sword...


Very true but the bully wouldn't actually make the challenge, but manipulate the " victim " into issuing the challenge by doing something offensive: The victim might be able to ignore the offence but then he risked being labelled a coward and would also risk becoming an easy mark for bullying by others: Think highschool or jail bullying culture ! Razz Not completely joking here as the way kids interact / bully / form cliques or gangs looks sort of Medieval to me. Eek! Laughing Out Loud

So getting back to duels: The duel " bully " would end up being the challenged party and have the choice of weapons and would also know by reputation who to avoid i.e. competent fighters.

Oh, this could be counteracted to a degree by being able to hire a " champion " to fight for you if you had some valid excuse like infirmity, age, sex or just being rich and important enough that no one would dare to criticize! ( Not wise to try to bully a Prince, major baron or king into a duel and expect them to NOT use the best champion available. )

A lot of duels though would be just two minor nobles hot heads getting into a stupid argument over rapiers in their scabbards hitting each other or over a woman I guess, Wink

( Sources ? General reading I can't pin down and probably one too many Errol Flynn movies. Laughing Out Loud
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001224/ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0572803/ )

( Oh, also an episode of Robin Hood with Richard Green " The Challenge " series 1 on DVD
http://www.sendit.com/video/item/7000000077218 I think that this episode had a challenge with some of these concepts in it, or an episode were Maid Marian is accused of murder and Robin becomes her champion in a judicial duel. I vaguely remember the use of buckler and axes in part of the fight. )

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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