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10:11 am: The legal system, punishments, judgment, and "justice"


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Date:October 1st, 2007 04:04 pm (UTC)
Ha, I did not know any actual legal systems like that existed! Obviously, I haven't studied enough non-Western history, and what little I know of ancient history tended to focus on those cultures that did have fairly elaborate systems of law, such as the Romans, or seemed to thrive on blood feuds.

So yes, reconciliation is a horribly under-utilized legal solution for fantasy settings, but I'd add that it's especially appropriate for settings where the only available alternative is a violent one.

Thank you; that's well-phrased. I suppose it might not be used more often just because so many fantasy settings assume that violence is a horrible thing when it's used against the protagonist and his friends, but it's a perfectly justifiable thing for the protagonist to apply.
Date:October 1st, 2007 09:49 pm (UTC)
There are several modifications to the Canadian justice system in aboriginal communities along those lines, actually - iirc, the term is something like "circle justice".

"Seemed" to thrive on blood-feuds is kind of the key term, though - even the ancient and various Germanic law codes were massively focused on at least trying to avoid the feuds. We studied a couple in my mediaeval history class. It's where "weregild" came from - you paid in accordance with your crime, particularly in terms of murder. And if you couldn't, you had to sell stuff until you could. And if you still couldn't, you called on your family. And if they couldn't/wouldn't, you called on your friends. And then showed up at the Thing (the name of the gathering) for something like three consecutive gatherings. And basically if, at that point, you STILL couldn't pay, the relatives got to kill you.

However, at that point, everyone else had completely given up any right to avenge you, by hanging you out to dry when you were asking for help. So theoretically, the blood-feud stopped there.

Which leads me to my second caution: just because there's a wonderfully reconciliative system of justice set up . . . .don't assume it works all, or even most, of the time.
Date:October 3rd, 2007 03:56 pm (UTC)
It's a paradoxical situation, really. If the peaceful solution always worked, then it wouldn't have existed. It existed (and was considered necessary) precisely because it could fail, and because the consequences of its failure was almost guaranteed to be quite bloody.
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