#Article (Archive)


May 13, 2011, 3:30 PM

Moving on from the inception of democracy, it is rather fitting and appropriate that we settle on an aspect of existence that affects everyone, Laws. It is a fact that from the dawn of time we as humans have lived within a certain code of rules that were created to keep and contain us for lack of a better word, under control thus minimizing chaos .Laws are quite necessary to guide us and help propel us in the right direction. Yet a considerable number of us never quite take the initiative to deeply study the laws that govern us unless its unavoidable, perhaps for exams or when involved in a case.

Research shows that little was known of them in detail until well after the invention of writing in about 3500 B.C. The earliest known legal text was written by Ur-Nammu, a king of the Mesopotamian city of Ur, in about 2100 BC. It dealt largely with compensation for bodily injuries, and with the penalties for witchcraft and runaway slaves.

One of the most detailed ancient legal codes was drawn up in about 1758 B.C by Hammurabi, a king of Babylon. The entire code consisting of 282 paragraphs, was carved into a great stone pillar, which was set up in a temple to the Babylonian god marduk, so that it would be read by everyone. Punishments under the code were harsh. Not only murderers but also thieves and false accusers faced the death penalty. Even a minor whom raised his/or her hand to his sire could well expect to lose the hand which struck the blow. The eye for an eye principle was carried to extremes. If a house-owners’s son was killed as a result of negligence in construction , for example, the life of the builder’s son - not of the guilty builder himself - could be forfeit.

Another  law reformer was Napoleon Bonaparte the French Emperor who had never studied the law  but he drafted most of the original 2281 articles which were mostly inspired by his way of thinking. The Code was a legal system which treated all citizens as equals regardless of their previous rank or privileges. It was also so clearly  written that it could be read and understood by ordinary citizens.

Later on of course juries were brought into being as a result of the Catholic Church deciding that trial by ordeal was superstitious priests and were forbidden to take part. At first, the jury was made up of local people who could be expected to know the defendant. The jury was convened only to 'say the truth' about the defendant on the basis of it's knowledge of local affairs. it was not until centuries later that the jury assumed it's modern role of deciding on the sole basis of what it heard in court. Today the jury system has been spread to numerous other countries .

Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to the law that governs their actions. The law is sometimes deemed kind, at others unreasonable and even unforgiving with many believing that constant reformation is the key. The jury system is feel one of the fairer aspects of the law which is why I can think of no other way to end than in the words of G.K. Chesteron ‘Our civilization has decided, and very justly decided, that determining the guilt or innocence of men is a thing too important to be trusted on trained men . It wishes for light upon that awful matter . it asks men who know no more law than i know, but who can feel the things that I felt in the jury-box. When it wants a library catalogued, or the solar system discovered, or any trifle of that kind, it uses up it's specialists. But when it wishes anything done which is really serious, it collects twelve of the ordinary men standing around. The same thing was done if I remember correctly by the Founder of Christianity.'

One thing that is non debatable is the absolute need of laws for the maintenance of order and the prevention, monitoring or mana ging of dissent and ultimate chaos.
Hard facts courtesy of reader's Digest.