Thursday, 2 July 2009

Excuse me officer, my car has been extra-legally removed.

There seems, at least in the UK to have been very little news coverage of the recent coup in Honduras. In fact I mentioned it at work today and no-one knew what I was talking about; not their fault, about the only news story in the last week has been the fact that a man who died last Thursday is still dead and that people who liked him are upset he is dead.

The blogging community does seem to have noticed it, and opinion seems mixed, some people are suggesting that it's not a coup at all, simply on the grounds that a civilian government is in place and the Honduran court has ruled that all is above board. Steven Taylor has coined a nice phrase to address this idea
"just because a institution of the state declares an act legal does not make it so."
This seems especially apt in a situation where the various institutions of state make up the parties of the coup. Over at Lawyers, Guns and Money, which I have just begun to follow, there is, as seems to be usual over there, a lively debate in the comments. A disturbingly common opinion seems to be that the proposing of a referendum is a dangerous and, somehow, undemocratic act (the concept of forcibly holding a vote has been brought up), and that this of itself justifies a coup.

Meanwhile some bloggers seem to be needing cushions to ease the pain of fence-sitting. Increasingly I am reading language lie "Extralegal" to describe the transfer of power. This is the kind of language that wikipedia refers to as weasel words. They are an attempt to get around a very basic disapproval of coups and support for democracy by redefining what has happened. This isn't a coup d'etat you see, those are undemocratic, they are illegal, this is just a case of having to use extralegal means.

But Extralegal only has one meaning, outside of the law. And we have another word for that. Illegal.

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