"Even though the communists, transsexual weirdos and suited clerics who infest the courtroom would never guess it, at their basest level James and I understand them."
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For more of our in-the-courtroom coverage of the Charlottesville show trial, click here.
Charlottesville City Circuit Court, December 4, 2018.
If you seek a demonstration of vigorous legal argument, you will not find it here. These proceedings are repetitive, inane and, well, boring. But they have a different virtue. The trial of James Fields may be irrelevant as an example of good law or sound logic, but it does have a great spiritual import. In Judge Moore’s courtroom, one can get a taste of how a medieval Christian must have felt in the midst of proper church ritual: comforted, assured, secure in his faith and surroundings, and occasionally bursting with a naive lust and eternal joy that - though he does not know it - will mean his annihilation.
Once you see the trial for what it is - an ecclesiastical exercise - you begin to understand what is going on. The facts are apocryphal. To beg for “consistency” or “relevance” is to miss the point. The jurors cannot be expected to synthesize the mass of evidence - neither, if we’re honest, can the judge or the lawyers. The body is so vast, varied and detailed, we can know more about that one day in Charlottesville than we can about entire ancient civilizations. This trial has a singular purpose: to enforce canon.
With that in mind, the behavior of its participants is less perplexing. Everyone in the court has his role. Judge Richard Moore is the holy primate. He advises, admonishes and pontificates. He speaks rarely, but conveys his will nonetheless. I noticed him smile benignly while one witness or another recited her recollections of Heather the Beatified. The attorneys, on the other hand, officiate. Four strong, they bob and bow, responsible for the moral edification of the congregants.
Yet unlike a priest, who is both a man of the world and of God, the law in Charlottesville maintains a misty distinction between “defender” and “prosecutor.” I do not know about elsewhere, but here, the difference seems purely formal - an ossified reminder of some ancient compromise - like “Latins” and “Sabines” in Caesar’s Rome. The two tribes put on a show of coy adversity in their witness-examinations, but as soon as a recess is called, members of one clan mingle with the other. All smiles and whispers. At one point during Blair Martin’s testimony, as she recounted some anecdote about her slain, saintly friend, defense attorney Hill’s face was beaming. I assume his thoughts were elsewhere, in another world.
Forty or so observers and press are usually in attendance. They are the parishioners, arrayed in two banks of hardy wooden pews, they sit for an hour or two at a time, while witness after witness recites the same litany. The “joyful” crowd was so “happy” and so full of “community.” They were “chanting and singing.” So unlike the “hateful,” “aggressive” and “violent” UTR protestors. Then the “happy people” caught sight of a silver Dodge. At the time unperturbed, now they recognize that its movements were “deliberate” and “calculating.” BOOM! And it happened. Dozens of innocents were felled. Listen to their screams. So senseless. There can only be one explanation: Evil exists because Evil killed one of them. Sequitur.
James Fields himself is entirely superfluous. In a fully evolved ceremonial, he would be replaced by a metaphor like “Satan” or “Evil.” That his very presence does not demystify the whole creed is testament to the utter innocence of its adherents.
And like primitive religion, the procedure is laden with pathos. Several witnesses have tediously explained their injuries for 5, 10 minutes on end, with the added help of photographs. The defense did not dare to question the relevance. The most convincing testifiers in this category have been anti-rational activists Star Peterson and Wednesday Bowie and random guy Thomas Baker, “I’m not an anarchist… I wanted to be present against what I thought very hateful.” Good boy. But the champion penitent was Marcus Martin, who sighed and blubbered throughout his recital, to the betterment of all.
In Charlottesville, a new religion is being born. Despite its inadequacies, it has far more to recommend it than my jaundiced rationalism. This faith stirs up our deepest common emotion: childlike longing - that desire for an all-pervasive love, a force that might overcome all the differences, that might nullify the faults and failings that stifle men’s happiness. And even though the communists, transsexual weirdos and suited clerics who infest the courtroom would never guess it, at their basest level James and I understand them.
We were children once too.
AUDIO: Author Greg Conte and legal expert Augustus Invictus discuss the legal ins and outs surrounding the Fields trial. 50 minutes)
An excellent discussion of the case from Red Ice TV
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