Thursday, August 1, 2013

Scandal ! - Pleading the Belly

Here at Detritus of Empire we rarely speak of Political Scandals of the Day.  Others do so with eloquence and unbridled glee, and I generally cede the territory to them.  Besides, our history is replete with well meaning, chaste, ineffectual politicians.  And also with rogues - likeable and otherwise - who had exactly the skill set for the challenges that the times called for.

But regards the latest imbroglio out of New York, well, something must be said.

But not his name.  I give no publicity to base cads when I can avoid it.  Besides, there are several such egotistical shysters on stage at present, so even narrowing it down to New York does not zero in on him.

This fellow was engaged in what I shall obliquely refer to as "sexual hijinks" that caused him to resign his previous office.  Tears, contrition, unspecified therapy, by now we know the drill.  Garden variety stuff from the sort of hubris engorged jerks who too often are drawn to politics.

But the remarkable thing is that after laying low for a short time he was "rehabilitated" by the press, ran for another prominent office.....and was shown to have continued in the same juvenile activities that got him fired once before.  (For my non American readers I will spare you details, but think of the mating behavior of certain primates who display affection, or something, by displaying their bright red posteriors).

This time he is having a harder time finding sympathy.

He says there were really not that many women involved.  Four.  Maybe Six.

Uncharitable folks say that those are likely only the tip of the iceberg.

Really uncharitable folks point out that icebergs are actually pretty easy to visualize.  They float fairly high in clear, pristine Arctic water.  There are other things you find floating in sewers that are almost entirely below the surface.

Oh, I suppose part of the issue with our troubled politician is his name.  Again for my British readers I encourage them to imagine the difficulties in life of being named something along the lines of, well, perhaps Willy Magnus.  But his name is the same as in his last, largely successful attempt to avoid political extinction.  So what else has changed?

Only this.  When the scandal was at its peak last time his quite attractive wife announced she was pregnant.  The wolves stopped howling.  The circling vultures dispersed.

This is the modern day version of what was called in Elizabethan England "pleading the belly".  Simply stated, if a woman convicted of a capitol crime was found to be pregnant her execution was stayed. Often as not she was later released or at worst transported to Australia as a convict.  This legal dodge seems to have been used with some liberality, even in cases where pregnancy was implausible.

Let's be honest, if you were  a judge forced to condemn a woman to hang for stealing a loaf of bread, would you not be willing to look the other way given an excuse for compassion?

All a woman needed to do was convince "a jury of matrons" as to the presence of pregnancy.  The jury was apparently assembled from those attending the trial.  It would not be too difficult for a woman to have a large number of her friends in attendance...

So our wayward politician now seems to be on the way to political "capitol punishment".  Pregnancies being a little difficult to produce on short notice it is likely that there will be no second Pleading of the Belly by Proxy.

And even if there were.

I wonder, is it a little unfair to call our current national media a modern day "jury of matrons"?

Short answer, no.  But I think even they have had enough of this nonsense.

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