Tag Archives: Akkadian

Do Dead Lawyers Lie Still?—Attorney-Client Privilege and its Oxymoronic Effect on “Legal Ethics”

Every truth is routinely denied and falsified, every lie is affirmed and promoted.  So as I, with Mephistopheles, so often like to state: “Ich bin der Geist der stets verneint, und das mit Recht, denn Alles was entsteht, Ist werth daß es zu Grunde geht.”

Montana State Representative (former State Senator, all-time great guy) Jerry O’Neil and I have spent many hours discussing the question: what IS it that a LICENSED ATTORNEY can do that really makes a license worth having?  I am a thrice disbarred attorney, basically a victim of political games played by evil NeoCons in Texas.  Jerry O’Neil has obtained a license to practice as an “advocate and counselor” from several Indian Nations, notably the Blackfeet, but he has never sought the license of any state.  If ETHICS were the sole test of qualifications to be an attorney—Jerry O’Neil would be recognized as one of the greatest of all time, in fact, he would probably at the very least be on the Montana Supreme Court.   

What Jerry and I have concluded, along with many other people, is that, in terms of functional definition, relatable to any part of the U.S. Constitution, a lawyer is a person who takes the First Amendment VERY SERIOUSLY and does EVERYTHING in the second half (non-religious) clause of the First Amendment routinely:  An attorney SPEAKS, he produces and uses the press (i.e. printed matter) prodigiously, he peaceably assembles with others, and, above all, he PETITIONS the Government (and other private citizens) for REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES.

But whereas the United States Supreme Court has found that there can be no licensing whatsoever for ANY aspect of religious practice (the first two clauses of the First Amendment) and has similarly said that there can be no “prior restraint”, i.e. censorship, of freedom of speech or the right to print anything at all, all branches of government, including the Supreme Court, have at least tacitly approved the licensing of attorneys.  

Even though the licensing of priests and preachers of the Gospel would never be tolerated under the free exercise and establishment clauses, even though the licensing of newspapers has throughout U.S. history been regarded as an abomination.  It DOES matter that the NDAA and Patriot Act have had a major limiting effect on America’s traditional freedom of speech, but my concern tonight, on this First Day of July and the beginning of the Second Half of the Year, is more parochial:

Is it at all legitimate that TWO of the few things lawyers can CLEARLY get by with doing, with more impunity and immunity, than anyone else (except President Obama himself) are TO LIE and TO KEEP SECRETS.

One of the more famous sources and/or manifestations of the lawyer’s ability to lie and keep secrets is known as “the attorney-client privilege.”  The basic idea, I think, is to encourage attorney-client candor, and to prevent a client from fearing to tell his attorney “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” simply because the attorney (without the privilege) might have to tell the whole world.  This makes sense and is positive, but DOES IT REALLY MAKE SENSE and IS IT REALLY POSITIVE if construed as broadly as it seems to be in the modern world?  

Given broad construction, is the attorney-client privilege not an instrument of corruption in and damnation against society?

For example, imagine if you will an upper middle class Father, a doctor, a surgeon perhaps, who has voluntarily relinquished his paternal rights in court so as to avoid further liability for child support and his ex-wives’ attorneys fees.  This doctor has, in both form and effect, “sold” his daughter and permitted her adoption by her new husband, who is neither a professional nor anything like the biological father.   The doctor would now claim duress.  He would claim fraud and coercion.  In particular, though the doctor/surgeon claims that since he was not able to arrange a complete discharge of his (admittedly unfair, oppressive, possibly illegal, but nonetheless Court ordered and enforced) financial obligations, he should have his daughter back.

Suppose this doctor hires a socio-political advisor and consultant.  Suppose that the socio-political advisor and consultant concludes that the doctor/surgeon is unfit as a man or a father, or even to claim those names and titles.  Suppose that the advisor and consultant concludes that this man, the doctor/surgeon cannot possibly be a competent father.  Suppose that the private advisor and consultant concludes this only after spending a total of nearly four weeks with this doctor.  

Suppose that the consultant concludes that a man is unfit to be a father if that “man” turns out in reality to be a pusillanimous pup who (1) breaks down in uncontrollable tears at every discussion of his serious legal and social problems, (2) speaks more-or-less constantly of his fear of prison, his fear of suffering, and his desire for death, (3) elaborates graphically upon his suicidal ideation, (4) his plans for international flight, and/or digging a bomb-proof air-shelter or bunker in his front yard, (5) a man who is confused and distressed within the confines of his own financial, professional, and even his sexual competence and prowess.  

Suppose further that the advisor and consultant is also a socio-political advocate for the regeneration of Traditional American Values, including Christian sacrifice, individual responsibility and manliness.  SHOULD THIS SOCIO-POLITICAL CONSULTANT CONSIDER HIMSELF, because of the pendency of legal proceedings, to be bound in any sense by analogy with the attorney-client privilege?  In other words, should an advisor keep secrets or tell the truth?  Will society benefit more from a conspiracy of silence (which is one of the licensed attorney’s true “superpowers”) or from exposing reality?

Should the advisor REMAIN SILENT, OR SHOULD HE SPEAK OUT, and by way of an “intervention” of sorts, do EVERYTHING IN HIS POWER EITHER TO SHOCK THE DOCTOR/SURGEON BY PUBLIC SHAME INTO REFORMING HIMSELF OR TO PROTECT HIS (presumably) INNOCENT TEENAGE DAUGHTER FROM HER DEEPLY UNSTABLE, ONLY MARGINALLY MENTALLY COMPETENT FATHER?  

Is not “intervention” the approved means, an emotional shock therapy preferable by far to the electro-shocks or lobotomies so long administered by the sadistic practitioners of primitive psychology and psychiatry, of approaching an addicted or deranged person mired in psychological turmoil?  

Analogy: the confessional and penitential privilege, the web of hypocritical deceit and deception to which the attorney-client privilege is often compared, which was and still is one of the primary sources of and shields for the child-buggery, priest-pederastry scandals plaguing the Roman Catholic Church.  Given that Christ assured an eternal lake of fire for those who harm little children, and that priests are quite literally sworn as Christ’s fiduciary vicars, is the penitential privilege  not an intolerably inconsistent thing to be scorned, derided, and abolished rather than preserved?  

The root concept of justice, throughout history, has been to illuminate the dark places of secrecy and hidden lies with sunshine.  The Ancient Sumerians, when oppressed, are known to have rioted violently and en masse in ancient Iraq (4th-early 3rd Millennium Mesopotamia), when any person in that land cried out publicly “I UTU”—an invocation of the Sumerian name of the Sun God (UTU), the supreme god of Justice.  To demand sunshine was to allege a deep cabal of secrecy and hidden lies*** and the people of Ancient Sumer and Akkad apparently found such things intolerable.  They only wanted to live in the sunshine of truth (or so their cuneiform texts seem to suggest: Egypt, by contrast, seems to have been much more comfortable with cultural institutions built upon and treasuring values of hypocrisy, secrecy and lies).

Within the Roman Catholic Church (no other branch of Christianity enforces a celibate priesthood), the confessional-penitential privilege gave rise, over the past near millennium if not more, to countless generations of children who must have hated and feared their priests and the Church as true monstrosities.  The Catholic Priest child molestation scandals have now been going on so long they hardly make the news, but have we reflected sufficiently on the ethical lessons and analytical consequences? A CONSPIRACY OF PERMITTED SECRECY and PROTECTS LIES and LEADS TO HYPOCRISY.  

I suppose this goes also to the question of whether recent Moscow resident Edward Joseph (“Ed”) Snowden, U.S. Constitutional Attorney Glen Greenwald, and other “whistle blowing” internet disclosers (e.g. Julian Assange of Australia) are traitors or among the greatest American (and Australian) Patriots ever to live.  My own bias on and answer to that point may be evident in the way I phrase the question.  My only complaint about Snowden is that he disclosed too little too late….

Attorneys in America have become a cabal, an elite, who control society but do not, for the most part, administer justice at all.  In fact, for the most part, I would submit to you that attorneys BLOCK justice, and the attorney-client privilege is one of their tools for doing so.  

In discussing the entirely hypothetical above, suppose the political consultant asked a local attorney with parallel experience with the same doctor for her opinion.  Under the dogma of “attorney-client privilege”, one North Florida attorney (Beth Gordon) wrote dramatically regarding this scenario: 

“I certainly don’t wish to engage in any kind of discussion . . . , what kind of a parent  [SOMEONE MIGHT BE], or anything else like that. I take my ethical duties very seriously, and therefore don’t wish to engage in anything like this.  . . . As an attorney, you can be appalled by someone’s behavior. You may or may not know this however- you cannot then feel free to share and discuss what you know about the client.”  

OK, as I understand this statement, SO ONE OF THE FIRST RULES OF LAW, THE ATTORNEY’S CREED, IS ONE OF SECRECY, I.E. LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE CENSORSHIP AND REPRESSION OF TRUTHFUL SPEECH—NOT MERELY IN THE CONTEXT OF A TRIAL WHERE AN INDIVIDUAL’S INNOCENCE MUST BE PRESUMED UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY—AND THE WHOLE POINT OF HIRING A LAWYER FOR A TRIAL WOULD BE DEFEATED IF THE LAWYER COULD BLURT OUT: “HE TOLD ME HE KILLED THE VICTIM, YOUR HONOR, THAT’S WHY HE HIRED ME.”  

So, the ritual presumption of innocence in criminal proceedings requires some sort of discretion on the part of an advocate.

But when an innocent third-party is involved, a child, do the same rules apply?  I submit that advocacy is only legitimate when it seeks the truth, to maximize sunshine, and to hide nothing.

I cannot help but wonder where Glen Greenwald would stand on this question.  I know he would violently (or perhaps non-violently, but vehemently) oppose compelling attorneys to reveal-client secrets in order to obtain convictions for terrorism—he is already on the record for this.  But those who defend American victims of denial of due process are presumably, at least in large part, defending people who are “actually innocent” of terrorist acts even though they may be “guilty” of hating America, and all that America has come to stand for, which is, after all, a gigantic culture of hypocrisy and lies.

Anthropological linguistics teach us that language is symbolic communication and that symbols are inherently abstract and hence, by definition, removed from the “reality” they describe.  So all language and all expression requires and demands deception of a sort: but is the purpose of law and litigation to protect the guilty or the innocent, and to maximize truth or to protect lies.  Lawyers seem to exist, in large part, to maximize protection for the guilty and to secure lies their “rightful place in the domination of world history”.

And in closing, I categorically deny that this is “sour grapes” on my part. I am NOT actually thinking about how the Austin, Texas based Admissions Committee of Western District of Texas in 1997-8 protected the one or two carefully selected and manufactured witnesses who testified in private, behind closed doors, with no recordings or transcripts, only committee summaries, from any cross-examination by me or my attorneys throughout the “Disciplinary Procedures” ordered by Judge James R. Nowlin against me. Or actually, they were protected from cross-examination until their testimony had been sufficiently rehearsed to be credible.  This was indeed an example of secrecy guaranteeing the efficacy of lies, but it goes back much farther than that.

 Rather, it is in memory of a Great-Grandfather of mine, known as “Judge Benny” who was a Louisiana Judge of impeccable albeit local reputation in Shreveport and Natchitoches who (at least according to family legend) had a knitted or crocheted and framed textile on the wall of his chambers which said, in a grand Louisiana tradition of cynicism, “Dead lawyers Lie Still.”

***It is Utu’s Akkadian-Speaking Eastern Semitic Successor Shamash who greets the Babylonian King Hammurabi and hands him the sacred laws, or pronouncement of laws, atop the Stela removed from Susa to Paris and now resident in the Louvre in Paris (with exact replicas at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago and the magnificent Pergamon Museum in Berlin).  The Greek Apollo, tragically, acquired very few of the characteristics of  the Near Eastern Sun God of Justice—Apollo was more known for his sarcastic gifts mixed with curses (e.g. Cassandra’s true power of prophecy coupled with universally inaccurate disbelief) and any real justice or fairness.

Lenten Reflections on Deception or Murder: which is the Highest (most heinous, offensive, injurious) Crime known to Man?

If the primary focus of my legal and political life concerns the enhancement and preservation individual freedom from governmental control and the norms of technocratic/corporate society, my primary philosophical concern is to expand and deepen my own understanding, and I would hope, the understanding of others, of the nature and dimensions of truth*.

Did anyone else ever try to give up lying or “judging unfairly” for Lent?  (Most people might call the latter “being mean” or “bullying”).  It’s so much easier to give up coffee or tea or lemonade.  Most ordinary humans, if we can “to our own selves be true”, would find it difficult to go through a single day without abstracting, oversimplifying, recharacterizing, or otherwise restructuring the truth—in other words, without lying about anything.

Back during the middle-to-last years of the George W. Bush Administration, a fairly popular bumper-sticker read, “Nobody died when Clinton lied.”  Whether you believe George W. lied only about “Weapons of Mass Destruction” as chief among the reasons for invading Iraq, or whether you believe he lied about 9/11 and everything from the counting of the Florida ballots in 2000 through his initiation of the Bank Bailout after the election in 2008, George W. Bush undoubtedly told some devastatingly fatal lies.   In that regard, Bush stands in fairly good company.  Deception and trickery of various sorts lay at the roots of the Franco-Prussian War, the Spanish American War, the U.S. entry into World War I, and the U.S. entry into World War II.  Hitlers’ preposterous lies concerning “Polish aggression” as a cause for the Nazi invasion in September 1939 are legendary, as was the peculiarly deceptive nature of the Von Ribbentrop-Molotov (aka “Stalin-Hitler”) pact partitioning Poland between Germany and the Soviet Union.   These were lies that killed millions.  By contrast the uncountable deaths of Afghan and Iraqi civilians are by no one estimated to exceed one single million (by very much) since 2003.  So lies lead to death, but war and murder and the “sacrifice” of young healthy men and women as warriors constitutes a huge part of human history.   The meaning of death is fairly obvious, except of course in extraordinary cases like Karen Ann Quinlan and Terry Schiavo, where the correlation between physical health and brain death has created a modern moral crisis in rare instances with population-wide implications (especially for the ever increasing population of elderly citizens).   The meaning of “truth” is much murkier, and much harder to tie down, or make clear to anyone.  In the courtroom context, “truth” is whatever a skillful lawyer can use rhetoric to convince 12 jurors to believe and vote for.  In the scientific realm, “peer review” of articles largely determines truth and credibility—and under “Daubert” this same standard invades and has vast consequences in the legal context in an era where no serious litigation takes place without expert witnesses.  In the early 17th century a “peer review” panel of scholars belonging to the Office of the Holy Inquisition in Rome threatened Galileo with the most severe of penalties if he did not recant, and yet he is reputed to have muttered under his breath “e pur si muove.”  We now believe we know that Galileo had the higher claim to truth, even though he was forced to recant or suffer the same penalty that met a young maiden named Jean d’Arc when she refused to deny that her visions were true, and refused to affirm that they were the product of the Devil.

Revealing the truth, or stating an unpopular truth, then, can lead to death as certainly as lying or dissembling.   John Brown believed he waged a private war for the truth when he set Kansas on fire and then tried to seize the U.S. Armory at Harper’s Ferry.  Once John Brown’s body was a-moulding in the grave, his dream of a bloody civil war which would free the slaves was realized, and his role in starting that war is not to be underestimated.  But is it historically true that the war of 1861-65 freed the slaves? Or did the majority of the Black African population of America remain in de facto slavery through 1917 and the American entry into World War I?  Or even until 1942 and the American entry into World War II?  Or even until the Civil Rights Acts of 1948-1964 outlawed, successively, lynchings (1948) and discrimination in the facilities of interstate commerce (1964)?  What is the truth about the wars that redefined America and the world while slaughtering millions?  Was World War II really (in Studs Turkel’s words) the one really “Good War?”

As Japan smolders today in radioactive fallout and the threat of nuclear holocaust due to its dependence on nuclear power, one has to wonder how the Japanese people did not learn the “truth” about the destructive nature of the split atom from their uniquely fatal “true” experiences in August 1945.  I would have imagined that Japan would have been the least enthusiastic consumer of nuclear energy.  But oblivion born of political memory and economic prosperity change the perception of “truth” almost as much as intentional lies and misrepresentations.

What really happened on 9/11/01 between Boston Logan, Lower Manhattan, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania?  How many skyscraper-towers fell in New York City due to airplane crashes and associated fires on that day of infamy?  3?  2?  none? There are those alive today who believe each of those answers.  I happen to be one who believes the latter.  But that is because I so firmly agree with the motto, “When Clinton lied, no one died.”  (But when Bush lied, the world fried.)  Socrates is said to have corrupted the youth of Greece by advocating his own peculiar dissection of the truth.  Was he killed by fear of the truth or by a genuine belief that his methods and works were dangerous?  Or was he just killed by the Beastly Babbity Bourgeois Bores of post-Periclean Athens?

Philosophy fairly clearly teaches us that on one level, at least, we all have to recognize that any absolute definition of truth is destined to be a lie, or at the very least to generate lies and deception.  One on optimistic level, as I look at the hills around Santa Fe from my fifth floor balcony at La Fonda, the blue sky is only slightly hazy at the horizon and the hills or low mountains to the northeast, behind St. Francis’ Cathedral, have residual patches of snow, while those to the southwest of town do not.  It is a beautiful Spring day in one of the best and finest spots in North America.  What is “true” about this statement?  What is true about what I see?  The sun is not in my eye but clearly illuminates a town which has grown at least 300% since I first visited here here as a child.  There is not a cloud in the sky above, and only a few very low clouds hovering above the sky up and around.  The leaves on the trees are either just nascent buds or not out at all.  Most tree branches are barren, although again even from this low altitude (5th Floor) vantage point there is a difference between the north and the south looking views (more barren branches in the north, more just barely growing leaves on the south.

Is any of this true?  Is any of this real?  It so seems to me, and I doubt that many people (if any) would argue with my general characterization of the sky.  But then I look at St. Francis’ Cathedral, and the rather grotesquely purple-draped crucifix planted in front of it (purple for Lent).   I am not R.C. but have a great appreciation for the majesty and role of the Christian Church in the West.   I grew up an Episcopalian—basically of an “Anglo-Catholic lite” variety.  In my Sunday school days we argued over such things as why glaciers and the ice ages weren’t mentioned in the Bible while “Noah’s Flood” was, and what would happen to the English Church if England (all or part) were ever again covered with glacial ice as it most certainly was less than 15,000 years ago, and what would happen to the Freedom Trail in Boston if New England were glaciated again?  In short, my religious upbringing did not disallow the scientific view of the world, of evolution, and of man’s animal origins and nature.

I look at St. Francis’ Cathedral and the purple draped crucifix standing out in front again.  What is true and what is false?  What is real and what is fantasy?  And above all, which is the greater crime: deception or murder?

In the United States today, no one is ever executed for fraud, although life sentences are routinely meted out—(I for one have never understood why life in prison is an improvement over death; I have spent a lifetime total of 60 days in Federal Custody and rather than stay longer I would choose death any day).  In a German movie from the early 1990s, Schrechklische Maedschen, (“Nasty girl”) an ironic twist was when a distinguished citizen of the town, reputed to have been in the underground resistance during World War II, was revealed to have been not only not a resister but an enthusiastic Nazi who arranged to have an itinerant Jewish salesman tried and hanged as a swindler; in the context of the movie, this was portrayed as one of the great abuses of Nazi sympathizers on the less than epic, mundane, local level.  The Common Law of England, and the Civil Law of Europe, did not always forbid execution for swindling or ordinary commercial fraud (in fact most “felonies” were originally hanging offenses, including for example horse thievery).  Note at sidebar: if capital punishment were allowed for fraud today it seems certain that the entire executive corps of Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, would all be eligible to be twisting slowly in the breeze, and most mortgage-lending banks, investment, financial service companies would be entirely without upper level employees of any kind and very few middle level employees.

And yet I digress.  There was a time in England, in the 18th Century, when pickpockets were hanged when caught picking pockets.  And where in all of England were there ever more pickpockets in operations than at public hangings by Newgate prison, including the public hangings of pickpockets.  So stealing was bad and justified state-sanctioned murder.  Hmmm….

Today, possibly under the influence of of Karl Marx, added to a substrate laid by Jesus Christ, we do not think that theft is as bad as murder, and crimes such as led to stonings in Jesus’ time (such as adultery), are now capital only in Iran and a few adjacent countries depending on how the wind is blowing, apparently, although Saudi Arabia has executed its own princesses for sexual crimes in the modern (even the Reagan) era.

The crucifix draped in translucent purple in fron of St. Francis’ Cathedral is haunting me still.   Royal purple is not translucent.  The purple of mourning is not translucent.  A crucifix draped in translucent purple gauze is almost as tacky as the plastic BVMs (“Blessed Virgin Mary”s) that were once all so common on the lawns in LMC immigrant neighborhoods back East.

And yet the reality of the purple crucifix is that we are in Lent, one week past the Annunciation of the Coming of Christ by the Angel Gabriel to a certain unwed (and probably rather ethnic-looking) mother named Mary took place (the Annunciation, celebrated on March 25 or the nearest Sunday of each year, also serves to warn the world that only 9 months (270 days,  of shopping time remain until Christmas….).  Lent is the time (40 days and 40 nights) in which we are instructed to remember that Christ died for our sins…. One perfect and complete sacrifice for the sins of the Whole World…..

Lent in relation to Easter appears to have originated in Egypt sometime in the late 3rd or early 4th centuries A.D., but it is clearly conceptually connected to the many 40 day periods of retreat or fasting mentioned in the Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible.

One possibility is that Lent originated in a 40 day period in which the women of Israel wept for Tammuz….  This event, commemorated in one of the most enigmatic lines in the entire Hebrew Bible, is recorded in Ezekiel 8:14: “Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.”

The author of Ezekiel refers to this sight as an “abomination” but Tammuz (Sumerian Dumuzi), was the lover of Ishtar/Inanna, the “Adonis” of the Fertile Crescent, who died each year and was reborn…. It is hard to know just how “deep” into the Cult of the Sacred Marriage of Inanna and Dumuzi the women of Israel described by Ezekiel might have been.  The “ordinary” priestesses of Inanna were in fact Temple “prostitutes”, a topic of greatest interest to modern scholarship, as well as to the Greek Historian Herodotus in describing the farthest “West” of the Near Eastern Temples ever recorded, found in Cypress.  The Sumerian word Dumu from which Dumuzi is derived may have meant something about the regenerative vegetative turgidity—Dumu—the sap which flows in the reeds that grow beside the life-giving Euphrates.  (The sap in the reeds gives rise to another farther flung comparison—of the Mesoamerican Tollan and the exile of “le Roi Ivre” (the Drunken King) aka the God Quetzalcoatl from the “Land of Reeds” after sexually incestuous indiscretion with the God’s sister were punished by rival deity Tezcatlipoca… but that is another essay for another day).  The Bible contains more evidence of Temple prostitution associated with either of the Goddesses Asherah or Astarte in Ancient Israel, mainly Asherah (Dumezilian Third Function Goddess whose name means, alternatively “Wealth” or “Poles”—as in wooden poles, not residents of that certain flatland country east of the Oder-Niese line, north of Czechoslovakia, and West of Belarus (Byelorussia).  The word “qedeshah” (“consecrated harlot”) occurs in Genesis 38: 21-22, Deuteronomy 23:18, and Hosea 4:14.  While Ahab’s Queen Jezebel, then, was no prostitute herself, insofar as the Bible reveals, her devotion to the goddess Asherah could possibly have made her the “madam” of many consecrated prostitutes, as the word qedeshah (root Q-D-S) is etymologically parsed and compared to Sumerian Quadishtu.

As a pause within any Lenten dissertation on high crimes, it is to be noted that in Biblical times and ever since, sexual crimes seem to be the most troublesome. The Prophet Elijah dedicated his life and prophetic works to the destruction of Jezebel and her fertility-oriented worship of Asherah.  I have never been fond of Elijah—his very name is an argument “El is [the same as] Yahweh”, but I think his attack on Hebrew polytheism is at least as strange and incongruous, perhaps even moreso, than Akhenaten’s attack on Egyptian Polytheism as much as 600-800 years earlier.

The truth is that nothing binds human beings together more tightly than their interest in/obsession with sex.  Today, the most heinous crimes are sexual crimes—there is no register of released killers, bankrobbers, or fraudulent tortfeasors identifying which released ex-cons live in which neighborhoods, but by Federal Law, sex offenders must be registered everywhere.   Convicted sex-offenders are stained with their stigmata for life, worse even than Jews in Nazi Germany (or the real or imagined Nazi-sympathizers in post-WWII France or other occupied countries).

Prostitution is, one supposes, the complete and total negation of traditional family life and marriage—yet if dedicated by and to the Priestesses of Inanna or Ishtar it was called “Sacred” among the Sumerians, Akkadians, Old through Neo-Babylonians, Assyrians, Kassites, Eblaites, Cannanites, and Cypriots of the Ancient Fertile Crescent.

I myself have often confronted the question: what is the difference between modern marriage and prostitution, and have concluded that the primary difference is in time of payment: prostitutes are paid “up front” while wives are paid (through the divorce and alimony system) post-facto, even (especially) if and when they enjoyed the full fruits of married life with their husbands.  Wives in a modern “Brave New World” Divorce of the type that Kathy Ann Garcia-Lawson has so completely eschewed, can typically collect much more for their sexual and child bearing services than even the most highly paid prostitutes ever stand to earn.  I suppose that is why the condescending Pharisees and Sadducees of our time (like Jesus’) called women who belong to the profession of which Mary Madeleine might have been a member, “Cheap”.  Yet Mary Madeleine, at the end of this Lenten Drama, is remembered as she who was the first to see the empty tomb and be greeted by the Risen Christ.  So who’s life and work was more precious to the Lord?

Prostitution and marriage—categorical opposites or merely points along a single continuum.  Which lifestyle represents greater freedom?  Which lifestyle represents greater honesty?  In Lent, when we reflect on our sins, mortal and venal, should we not reflect on such questions.

Are we today free from the hypocritical values which cast some as saints and some as sinners for very similar behaviors?

But leaving for a moment sex, lies and videotape, and returning to murder vs. lies, we go back to the foundation of modern Anthropology.  In The Golden Bough, published originally in 1890, but published in its more famous 12 volume 3rd edition contemporaneously with the Great European War, 1915-1918, Sir James G. Frazer focused on one single interrelated web of questions and problems relating to human religion worldwide: why is ritual murder or human sacrifice so common and why does it always focus on a dying King—a dying young man at the height of his masculine strength and life.

Dumuzi-Tammuz in Mesopotamia and Syro-Palestine (and Cyprus), the lover of Inanna-Ishtar; the model couple for the Sacred Marriage Rite of Ancient Sumer-Akkad-Babylon.  Osiris in Egypt, brother and lover of Isis, the model for Pharaonic resurrection and ultimately for all Egyptian resurrection (through the rites of mummification). Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, who for us and our Salvation came down from heaven, was made incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and made man.

Clive Staples Lewis once wrote an inquiry into the question of whether Jesus was “just another corn God” and concluded that he was not.  But the manifestations and apparent roots of Kingship and Sacrifice stretch from sub-Saharan Africa across Europe and Asia to the Americas.  The story of Quetzalcoatl-Kukulcan on the one hand, and the ritual sacrifice and corn-bread communion of Tezcatlipoca among the Aztec, certainly looks suspiciously like the rites of Christendom.  The early Spanish Conquistadors noted, as did their accompanying clergy, mostly “Franciscans” including but not limited to those who founded Santa Fe and the church here which ultimately evolved into the Cathedral of St. Francis, that the Aztec especially but to a lesser degree the Maya showed ritual parallels to all of the Seven Sacraments in their autochthonous theology, aboriginal ceremonies and indigenous beliefs.   For Sir James G. Frazer, as for Frays Bernaldino de Sahagun and Bartolome de las Casas, Aztec Religion was the nearest ritual approximate to Christianity outside of the Christian world itself.

What does this kind of similarity mean?  On Good Friday we “celebrate” the death of the Son of God.  In the rites of Toxcatl, the Aztec of Mexico celebrated the death of the human incarnation of Tezcatlipoca by human sacrifice.  Among the “Penitentes” of New Mexico, it was long rumored that actual human sacrifices took place on Good Friday to commemorate the original death.  The lines between cultures and religious ideology grows slim indeed.

For the Spanish, the Aztec Religion was a deceptive mockery of Christianity, going back to our original question of whether murder or deception is the highest crime known to Man.  For their sins of heresy and failure to adopt or comprehend Christianity, the Native American peoples were alternatively enslaved, burned at the stake, slaughtered in brutal war, or simply denied the right to serve as priests (despite decades of work, in the sixteenth century, of the bilingual Nahuatl & Spanish Colegio de Tlatelolco established by Sahagun) because they were doctrinally deemed to be soulless creatures easily deceived by the Devil and incapable of understanding or implementing the one “True” Christian faith.

So notions of fraud and murder converge in Christianity specifically, in world religions generally, and throughout the study of Divine Kingship, by Sir James G. Frazer and his followers, who constitute the core of Anglophone Anthropology from E.E. Evans-Pritchardt, A.R. Radcliffe-Brown, and Alfred M. Hocart, of an older generation, to Marshall Sahlins, Valerio Valeri, and Gillian Feeley-Harnik of the more recent and modern era.

Is murder truth or deception?  Joss Whedon is one of the most talented writers ever to approach television, and has put many amazing words into the mouths of his characters in several different series.  In the fourth season of Whedon’s series Angel, the eponymous character’s son, a human offspring of vampire parents (Angel and Darla) named “Connor”, tells his father,  “There’s only one thing that ever changes anything and that’s death. Everything else is a lie. You can’t be saved by a lie. You can’t be saved at all.”  (Episode 4.22 “Home”)

This pretty much sums up the Wagnerian-Schopenhauerian-Nietzschean dilemma: DEATH IS THE ONLY THING THAT EVER CHANGES ANYTHING.  Is everything else really a lie though?  Can we be saved by the death of Divine Kings?  Tezcatlipoca in the rites of Toxcatl? Dumuzi-Tammuz?  Osiris?  One-Eyed Wotan’s self-willed immolation in Walhalla at the Twilight of the Gods after the Murder of his grandson Siegfried by the treacherous half-breed Hagen?  or Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews?

Deception and Murder, from an Anthropological perspective, are fairly unique aspects of the human condition.  Male animals kill each other over mates.  Animals compete for food.  Animals know the law of the jungle: kill to eat, or to prevent oneself from being eaten.  But most animals do not set elaborate mechanical traps (that’s why a Spider’s web is so intriguing and powerful a symbol to the human mind) or drive entire herds over cliffs merely to eat and skin a few of the animals who die in the stampede (Native American Archaeological Kill sites are common from New Mexico to Alberta and elsewhere in the Americas, with prehistoric documentation going back at least to Torralba-Ambrona in the late Acheulean, Lower Palaeolithic, of Spain), but such behavior is routine among humans.  We do not think of this, perhaps, so routinely as “deception” because we do not imagine that the animals would understand the fraud if it were explained to them: “if you step on this spot, you will be caught in a trap and eaten; if you stampede over a cliff with the rest of the herd, while being chased by humans, you will all die but only a few of you will be eaten and the rest will simply rot.”  So death can be the result of deception—death can be the result of lies, even though, as  Connor believes, there is something satisfyingly clear and absolute about death that makes it “truer than life,” perhaps.

Propaganda (Advertising) and Technologically Advanced Warfare write deception and murder large across the tableau of modern history.  As Winston Churchill once observed, man is the only creature who periodically goes out to slaughter large numbers of individuals of the same species, and the invitation, the incentive to such officially sanctioned, corporate, mass murder is what we call political or….other kinds of….propaganda or advertising.  Only a few well-selected deceptive words like “weapons of mass destruction” are all it takes to rally the American population to warfare, it seems.  Yet there have been schools of thought in the not so distant past which believed and argued that truth and the maximum expression of human nobility resided in warfare, like death itself, or murder.

One of the principal reasons I have chosen to be a civil rights activist is that I have seen American Judges (both State and Federal), supposedly the ultimate arbiters of “truth” in society, so corruptly twist the truth or even the facts as presented to them, that I have little or no lingering confidence in the judicial system, anywhere, as a means of ascertaining the truth.  Quite the opposite: in mortgage finance, family, domestic relations, & “child welfare” law, the government (including the judges) more often than not come down on the side of the liars and the corrupt, and against those trying to ferret out the truth.  Doctrines such as “parental alienation” and “best interests of the child” combine to give judges and social welfare workers the power to wreak such havoc on home and family life that, frankly, it is amazing today that any traces of home or family life exist in America today.   What is the truth we are fighting for here?  I think that the real, not-so-hidden agenda behind the iron curtail of Family Law and Domestic Relations in the United States, coupled with the mortgage finance/credit-based monetary system, consists of one single goal: the abolition of the family and private property in America and the rest of the developed world, thereby realizing two of Karl Marx’s key dreams articulated in the Communist Manifesto of 1848, or in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World nightmare of 1931.

*My son Charlie, a Freshman at St. John’s College in Annapolis, regularly tortures me with impossible philosophical questions about classification, perception, and reality and all I can say is: Good for Him! I wish I had had that kind of training, but I am deficient at the dissection of philosophical questions.  His perception and understanding of Aristotle, Parmenides, Plato, and Socrates already far exceeds my own.  As my late aunt Mildred would have said, “he is well-schooled and so acquainted with all the Gone Greeks.”  St. John’s curriculum is apparently as amazing and true to the mediaeval and renaissance traditions as I had always heard—and as difficult.