anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,
anotherlongshot
anotherlongshot

business as usual.

I came home an hour ago from the Singapore Law Review lecture on the situation in Burma (as a matter of principle, I refuse to call it Myanmar), which was very thought-provoking, among other things.</p>

As a preliminary declaration though, I would just like to say this one little thing:

LCL IS SO TOTALLY AMAZING OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

He can go on stage and talk utter rubbish and gibberish and I would still think he's totally amazing.

Okay, not really; I would think he's amazing, but not totally amazing. The amazing comes from the way he speaks that commands the entire stage; the totally amazing comes from the content of what he says. "Erudite" is the right word for it. His Public Law lectures last year were some of the most memorable points of law school for me. Seriously. He's amazing.

And it also helps that he gave me a B+ for my Public Law assignment and made it quite clear that I might've got a better grade if I'd done the last part of my paper properly.

Sigh. To think I was thinking of taking his modules in Year 3, but he's moved on to Hong Kong already. So tragic.

Anyway, if I continue gushing about how amazing he is (and I honestly do think that he's really quite hot) I would never get round to finishing the first draft of my Emergencies paper which I plan to do before I sleep, i.e. before 5 a.m., so I shall stop.

And speaking of my Emergencies paper. Up until 2 a.m. today I honestly did not have a paper. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown because I had nothing to write. I would intend to get down to writing and open a Word Document and type three introductory paragraphs, then stop and decide it's utter shit. Repeat process 8 times and you get the "progress" I made over the past...4, 5 days. Eight introductions and nothing beyond that. It was getting ridiculous. It was getting dire. It was getting bleak. I could see my grade crumbling and disintegrating in the words that had not been formed, the ideas that had not been concretised, forming an ugly F that would probably scar me for life.

But I went to talk to my parents. I talked to my dad. My dad, ever learned and analytical, told me exactly what I need to write. And he's right, you know. Because what I was really struggling with was my initial stand that states that face an existential threat should vest in the government/the executive/the sovereign/whoever absolute power to quell the situation, all in the name of stability. But if I take that absolute stand, it means that I would allow torture, I would allow preventive detention for years on end, I would allow political executions, and I would allow extra-judicial killings - but I don't believe in any of those things. More pertinently, those things run contrary to my value and sense of right and wrong. And I just couldn't make myself say that we should sacrifice these few people "for the greater good" because that phrase is dishonest, misleading, and it ignores issues that are fundamental, I think, to what it means to be human. This all sounds completely fluffy but I really do believe that human rights are universal, and that there are just some things that are absolutely wrong. And the adverse (to put it mildly) consequences of vesting in a single person or a group of persons absolute power to do whatever the hell they please in a crisis just to achieve stability on the ground can never be justified, not even if, forty years later, the society becomes a liberal democracy (I'm thinking about Taiwan).

Oren Gross's Extra-Legal Measures model consequentially says that torture can be ratified, which implies that an illegal and immoral act can be excused and made legal. David Dyzenhaus violently disagrees and he's coming from a very substantive rule of law approach. I think it's easy to oppose a substantive conception of the rule of law because it really does smack of an implicit, probably unintentional neo-colonialist legal hegemony of the non-democratic world - and I am morally against colonialism on every possibly conceivable ground. But throughout the entire process of trying to come up with a thesis that guards against this legal hegemony, that doesn't rely on a substantive conception of the rule of law, that doesn't blindly and ignorantly champion the universality of human rights, I've come to realise that there are some things that are universal. Beyond religion, beyond geographical borders, beyond political leanings, beyond entrenched cultural consciousness - they are universal because they go to the root of who we are as human beings and what it means to be human.

Anyway, that's my take on things. And that's basically my paper. I'm not writing about quite a number of things but as it stands I've only written half the paper and I'm already at 2600 words when the word limit is 4000 so I shouldn't try to add any more stuff to it. I'm gonna die, you know, reducing the word count. AS USUAL.

In other news, Rui, Pingying and Pet brought a terrapin to the canteen tables today. I was gushing over it and saying "gui gui!" and wagging my finger at it, and all of a sudden it came rushing towards me which scared the shit out of me. Pet was all, "You're pretty by turtle standards!" Hahaha. Thanks, Pet. It was really cute though and I went all soft when I saw it and when I was staring at it, and it's precisely why I refuse to keep pets. I will get emotionally attached and I will die inside when it dies. And I don't want to go through that emotional trauma.

I took a couple of pictures of the terrapin but I'm too lazy to transfer them to my laptop from my phone.

Since it's exam period and I've got ten million shit to do in the least amount of time possible, I'm going to hole myself up at home and attempt to study. Going to school, or going out, breaks my momentum and I can't afford that.

Also, I've decided, quite firmly, that you have to be demanding. You really have to be demanding. Because if you can let things slide you will end up with less than what you fully deserve. And we all deserve to get what we deserve.

I wonder when I would stop reacting, if I would ever stop reacting. But whenever I think about it I feel so disgusted and angry and incredulous, as if that person back then, supposedly me, was a complete stranger with whom I cannot identify presently. The entire notion of that strange emotion I was labouring under that gave rise to the subsequent acquiescence - completely alien. Completely unforgivable. How do you stop standing up for yourself? How do you just stop caring about yourself? How do you stop putting yourself first? You don't think it'd ever happen to you because you have all these notions of who you are and what you're worth, and it's precisely when you don't think it would ever happen to you that when it does happen to you, you find yourself lacking defences and ammunition. Like a country faced with an unpredicted emergency and its Constitution provides no guidance of how to deal, and so the said country enacts legislations like the Patriot Act that hurts people more than helps them. The country goes all out. You go all out. In the end the country is left with its fundamental beliefs and institutions undermined, polluted and tainted, the laws of the exception seeping into ordinary laws, the exception normalised. And you are left with exactly the same thing. But law professors in the country come up with theories and extra-legal/legal models in an attempt to ameliorate the damage. And you do the exact same thing, too. And Oren Gross' extra-legal model reflects a sense of hopelessness and despair at the competence of the existing institutions - law - to deal with such unexpected exigencies; he seems to think that the law cannot deal with it and therefore the executive has to act outside of the law. It's really the ultimate vote of no-confidence that anyone could possibly cast, when you leave it to the political process to act as a check on governmental power, especially when it comes from someone who believes in liberal democracy. And you also cast a vote of no-confidence too, because the incident has created a precedent; it has tainted your ordinary laws; it has become normalised, it has become who you are. The seepage and the contamination are complete. So what do you do? Go on like normal, business as usual? I suppose that's the only thing to do, is it not?

That, and possibly find ways to cure the constitutional defect, so that the next time such an unpredicted event catches you off guard, at least you'd know what to do. Because events are not identical but they are similar. And after the ultimate attack on the legitimacy and dignity of your institutions, nothing can really surprise you anymore.

Tags: angst, assignments, exams, friends, human rights, law school, neb, personal, rui
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