Playing God: A Further Consideration of the Character and Conduct of Officers of the Court

Posted on November 30, 2013


My previous two posts have been directed at the character and conduct of officers of the court (that is, attorneys and judges), and the one immediately preceding this one looked specifically at a number of cases of extreme judicial misconduct.

I sketched some of the implications of this misconduct, which ranged from debauchery to violence, in the conclusion to that post. What I’d like to consider in this one is this: in what professional office that you can think of besides judge would it not only be possible to engage in these kinds of activities—for example, propositioning coworkers, masturbating in a roomful of people, or brandishing firearms (in buildings where they’re prohibited)—but possible for the kind of person who’s brazen enough to engage in them to occupy?

I can’t think of one in which such a person would be tolerated or one that such a perpetrator wouldn’t immediately be ousted and escorted to a cell from. Not one. Not that long ago, a President of the United States was impeached for privately dropping trou.

The obvious answer to how this is possible is that (1) courtrooms are insular spaces where judges literally reign, and (2) everyone, including members of their staff, is intimidated into (sycophantic) submissiveness. A judge can literally masturbate himself in front of a crowd of people, and no one will stand up and recognize the behavior openly, let alone challenge its seemliness (this is the phenomenon satirized in the story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”).

I’ve recently observed that several jobs in the legal and government spheres are ones people with so-called psychopathic traits are said to gravitate toward: lawyer, police officer, and civil servant (judges are both lawyers and civil servants). Other “top jobs for psychopaths” are said to be CEO and surgeon. These are all occupations whose practitioners you have assuredly heard someone remark “think they’re God.”

What does it mean to think you’re God?

What’s usually meant is that people like this have been invested with authority and expect it to be recognized; presume to dictate to others what’s best for them (that is, they presume to know best); never doubt or second-guess themselves, their judgments, or their worthiness; relish being the center of others’ attention; and are resistant to stress and immune to shame.

They’re excellent survivors, clearly, which is what the title of Oxford professor Kevin Dutton’s book, The Wisdom of Psychopaths, implies. They’re rewarded by exerting their will on others and, despite whatever consequences may ensue as a result, sleep well.

Over the course of writing dozens of editorials on restraining order abuse and the issues around which it orbits and from which it devolves, I’ve found myself over and over coming back to psychology. Both wanton abusers of the law and practitioners of the law (who may likewise be wanton abusers of it) display qualities that are directly contradictory to the conceits of civil process. Civil, along with its cognates civilization and civility, implies sensitivity to others and the value of their feelings and lives. These words are meant to embody the values espoused by our Constitution, principal among them being the recognition that all people are created equal and are thus equally entitled to earnest regard by others.

The values espoused by our Constitution are social values. What you see in conflict here are competing social systems: the authoritarian and the democratic. The law is a system that has “evolved” from ancient times to feudal times (times when the citizenry was ruled by the dictates of a single person) to modern times, and it hasn’t really kept up (just consider the word court: what does a king preside over?). What keeps government and the courts honest is social scrutiny, mediated typically by the so-called fourth estate, journalism: word gets out, and people respond.

Change and reform begin with sensitization (that is, awareness).

The counteragent to corruption, in other words, is you and I (collectively). People are dominated by the law and intimidated into submissiveness, restraining order victims doubly so, because they’ve been traumatized. What being traumatized means is having had your power taken from you (not surprisingly, more than one female victim of restraining order abuse I’ve spoken with has referred to her treatment in court and by the court as “rape”: the ultimate trauma of rape is being disregarded, dominated, and left feeling impotent.)

Take your power back. Not a single one of the judges nominated “crazy” that I mentioned in my previous post went down without a fight.

And they probably still sleep like babies.

Copyright © 2013