History 104A, September 14: LAW & ORDER + CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE!

               Friday is the second group meeting.  Please come prepared for it,

          the second group meeting, about 20-25 minutes dealing with Egypt,

          Mesopotamia, life and death in Egypt and Mesopotamia.

               You have passed the deadline, for those that didn't turn in their

          papers for the first group meeting.  Just as a reminder, they were due

          two weeks from the first group meeting.  The first group meeting was

          held the 29th.  And I think we're now on 14 days, if my math is

          somewhat correct on that.  Any questions about the second group

          meeting before I go on?

               All right.  We will be entering ancient Greece perhaps starting

          today.  Actually, today may be Crete.  And then after the next couple

          of weeks, we'll have the first exam.

               I guess, I don't know what I said at the beginning of the

          semester.  I said I may have mentioned that on the exams, last

          semester, we want back to my process of not giving a take-home

          question.  The take-home question dealt with the optional readings,

          the readings that dealt with more world civilization.  And my feeling

          is that a lot of people spend a lot of extra time looking that stuff

          up, the good students, but it was difficult for me to keep up with

          some of the stuff they found out.  And so I was feeling a little

          insecure to be honest with you.  The fact is that I guess I should

          ask, how many of you would like one of the three questions as a

          take-home question prepared?  You won't be bringing it into class with

          you.  How many would prefer three straight questions?  How many would


          prefer that I not give them any take-home questions.  How many prefer

          that I give them a take-home question?  How many don't give a dam?

          That means I have to make the decision.  I'll let you know in a week

          or two which way I've decided to go.

               I mentioned last time that I was going to read an article in part

          or completely on comparing the law codes, Hamurabi codes with that of

          the Mosaic Code, the Mosaic Code again being from the Bible-the Torah of

          the Old Testament.  The book I got this from is no longer printed or

          available.  It was a textbook I used years ago called Hangups from Way

          Back.  It had generally a section explaining materials and then direct

          readings in say the Bible and the code of Hamurabi.  And the concept I

          think still holds.  And that is that we are what we are because of our

          past.  I am what I am.  And therefore, we have many hangups, many

          things that hang us up based on our history.  And that, of course, is

          why I've always been fascinated with history.  The past keeps

          returning.  For example, we have lost quite a bit of the treasures

          of Mesopotamia because many of them were in various museums in Iraq

          and they got looted and sold on the international market.  Looted by

          American troops?  Perhaps.  Looted by Iraqis?  Perhaps.  They're gone,

          some of them destroyed but more stolen and distributed.  We lose

          things and yet Iraq again is now, 4,000 years from that civilization,

          and yet it reappears simply in looting and of course the American

          invasion, wars occur.  And so we will go on from there to talk about

          some of these things that were in existence and gave us the knowledge

          of the history as well.


               Okay.  The title is called Hamurabi, Moses, and Eldridge Cleaver.

          And that really is quote an old title.  We spoke about Hamurabi and we

          spoke about Moses.  Does anyone in class know of Eldridge Cleaver?

          It's a name from my past, if you will.  Eldridge Cleaver was the

          minister of information of the Black Panther Party.  The Black

          Panthers were a radical left wing political group of African-Americans

          that started in the Berkeley/Oakland area in the middle to late 1960s.

          They were one of the new African groups that were willing to work

          closely with the white radicals, like Students for a Radical Society

          and the Symbionese Liberation Front.  And some of you may recall that

          a couple of the people from the Symbionese Liberation Front were

          picked up just a few years ago.  They were in hiding.  And of course

          they became famous with their kidnapping of the Patty Hearst, the

          daughter of the Hearst newspapers and at that time the San Francisco

          Chronicle.  Cleaver had spent a good portion of his life in prison.

          And while he was there, he wrote a book called Soul On Ice.  He later

          fled the United States so he wouldn't be returned to jail where he

          traveled in Muslim countries and stayed for many years -- in Morocco,

          went to Cuba, and finally returned to the United States, gave himself

          up, and had converted quote/unquote from a radical left winger to

          become a born again Christian and then joined the Mormon church and

          attacked left ring politics.  Cleaver was a dangerous criminal to

          some.  And many felt he threatened the security of the country and

          felt that he had undermined law and order.  Of course today we are

          living in an era, a time when we fear the breakdown of law and order


          in various forms, from natural disasters to terrorism.  Throughout the

          course of history men have been considered heroes by some and

          criminals by others.  Indeed, the question of patriot or traitor, hero

          or rebel is really a matter of who happens to be the judge.  Criminal

          is often defined by society.  And what we're talking about here are

          generally what we would refer to as political prisoners, political

          criminals who disagree with the thrust of the law in a particular

          society historically.

               Well, let's look at some definitions historically.  In the 18th

          century in some European countries the punishment for stealing a loaf

          of bread was death.  In several 17th century colonies it was against

          the law not to carry -- not to carry a gun to church every Sunday.

          Some cities, some states, some areas have banned today the carrying of

          weapons, the owning of weapons, and the sale of weapons of any nature.

          New York City is among those cities, since 1890, that have banned the

          sale of guns except in extreme circumstances with carry permits issued

          by the police.  Of course the standard argument is, how can they,

          since the Constitution provides that the people have a right to carry

          weapons?  The people's right to bear arms shall not be infringed, it

          does say, in the second amendment.  So how can a city or a state ban

          weapons?  Anybody know?  Because there's a first part to that

          amendment -- a well regulated militia being necessary for a free

          society, the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed.

          The Supreme Court interpreted, in 1939, that the right to bear arms

          only applied to an organized state militia.  And therefore, states can


          ban weaponry.  However, only about 15 years ago, one city in Georgia

          passed a law saying that every head of the household must own a gun,

          just the opposite, but it's left to the states.

               As recently as 1940, half the states in the United States ruled

          it a felony, which is usually means at least serving a year in prison,

          a lengthy prison term.  They ruled it a felony for any white or black

          to marry each other, white or black intermarriage.

               Faced with laws like these, men will naturally begin to

          inquire -- who makes the law?  Who determines what the punishment

          should be for the crime?  How widely the laws vary from time to time

          and place to place?  It is not surprising that some even began to

          flirt with the following kinds of questions:  Should unjust laws be

          obeyed?  Should one harbor and shield a person who is fleeing if the

          law is unjust or cruel?  Are disenfranchised citizens, citizens who

          can't vote, obliged to obey laws imposed upon them by exploit of

          powers?  Must one obey a law they had no voice in the shaping?  To put

          it on a quite personal basis, imagine yourself in the following

          situation.  I'm going to ad-lib here.  You are an individual who

          opposes the war in Iraq and there is a draft and you know a number of

          people who do not want to serve in the military in Iraq because they

          do not believe in the war.  Would you help them?  By helping them, you

          can go to prison.  Would you help them leave for Canada?  Would you

          provide them food, clothing, shelter?  Would you leave the country?

          My son's got plans already.  Would you go underground?  Or would you

          do what one young man I know did in the 1970s when he opposed the war


          in Vietnam, he turned himself in to go to prison under the principal

          not that he wanted to obey the law, but he wanted to radicalize the

          prisoners to make them aware of the evil of the Vietnam War so when

          they got out they could oppose -- these are perhaps tied to the

          fugitive slave laws.  Would you help the escaped slaves?  Would you

          help them go to Canada?  Would you help them as part of the

          underground railroad?  Again, we live through these things

          historically.  Every era must deal with some of these issues.  And of

          course, there's a host of other additional questions.  The main

          question is, How did it get started?  When did western men get hung up

          on law and order, and what kind of law and order?  I think we've all

          heard about the times when witches were seen as devil worshippers and

          of course burned at the stake or hung in Salem or thrown into a water

          to find out if they were good or evil.  If they sunk, they were evil.

          If they floated, they were evil.  I don't know.  It was one of those


          A    Tied rocks to them.

               THE PROFESSOR:  Or do you ban a religion such as in the Tennessee

          mountains, Kentucky mountains, that worshipped Christianity but they

          believe that you can allow snakes, rattlesnakes to test your goodness.

          And so in their churches, they allow rattlesnakes to go up their

          bodies and if the snakes bite you, I guess that's the term, you're

          considered evil.  If they leave you alone, God's grace has been done.

          We have loads of questions and people's faiths and political questions

          that are raised.  Where did it come from?  What kind of communities


          created these laws and why?  Obviously with the earliest civilizations

          in the Middle East, law codes had to be developed.  The community

          pressure that, for example, would be placed on the bushmen because

          they were small communes -- they respected each other, they lived with

          each other, no longer existed as they moved into larger communities

          and into city.  For any of you who have lived in big cities, we

          realize that there are an immense diversity between people, between

          values, between culture, especially in cities where there is large

          immigration.  And therefore, what do you do?  How do you deal with

          some of these differences between people?  For example, there are many

          countries in Africa that believe in female circumcision.  And we have

          had problems now in the Bay Area where women have been forcibly

          circumcised from these areas.  Is that a violation of our law?  Well,

          yeah, but it is part of their culture.  And therefore, with the

          earliest cities, we had to have laws to create a commonality.  But who

          made the law?  Well, obviously, in most cases, it was made by the most

          dominant culture or by a dictator, by a king who did it for purposes

          of quote/unquote law and order, or better said, order, to make sure

          people could live together and work together.

               Among the first law codes was, of course, Hamurabi's code.  And

          the one we are most familiar with, the mosaic code, the laws of the

          Bible.  Of course today we raise questions about some of those laws.

          What kinds of questions on the Bible, Biblical laws.  Well, I remember

          one time having some fun, I thought, with my fundamentalist

          brother-in-law who's son yelled at him and the Bible in part says that


          children can be put to death for disobeying their parents.  I asked

          him if he wanted to put his child to death.  And he said, he would

          love to, but he would rather preserve his own life.  He was dead

serious—no pun intended.  In the Bible, in the Old Testament, it says right in the

          same section condemning homosexuality.  It identifies the fact that

          it's just as evil for a man to look on his wife nude when she is

          having her period.  That's not the words used, her menstrual cycle.

          Is that on the same level as homosexuality?  Do we execute by stoning

           adulterers, as part of the mosaic code?  When put to many

          Christians, the response generally is, that is the code of the Old

          Testament and that is the old law that has been changed in the New

          Testament, and that is the readapted, considered the new law of the

          New Testament.  So again, for many of us, the mosaic code seems very

          harsh.  And so of course the code of Hamurabi.

               Are we founded upon that code?  Is it outdated?  Those are the

          things that we have to decide.  The code of Hamurabi is frequently

          cited as one of the major achievements of western society.  It is

          supposed to represent a step forward for man because for the first

          time it defined what the crime was and prescribed the punishment for

          it.  Of course we pointed out that Samaria had law codes earlier, thus

          removing crimes and punishment from the rulers.  Perhaps Hamurabi's

          code is overrated.  Let us exam certain myths.

               In the first place, Hamurabi was not the first person to

          establish a written code of laws.  The earliest is that of Samaria

          about 500 years previously.  In 1947 a clay tablet was discovered that


          contains 47 laws preserved from an unknown larger number of laws.  The

          tablet is now referred to as the Lipit-Ishtar code.  I'm not spelling

          because you need to remember it.  I'm spelling it because Connie needs

          to put it in the notes and it's more helpful for her than for you.

          And is another earlier code dating approximately about 1850.

          Furthermore, scholars have known for some time now that Hamurabi,

          living around 1700 BCE, codified many laws that had been written in

          Babylonia as early as 2250 BCE.  We just don't have the records of the

          original laws in our possession.

               Secondly, the birth of western civil law is with Roman law, not

          the code of Hamurabi.  As professor Cyrus Gordan quotes in his

          Hamurabi's code, quaint or forward looking, we cannot speak of any

          direct influence of the code on subsequent history because the code

          was of limited circulation and the stela, a tablet, it was carried all

          by the Elamites to Susa where it was eventually forgotten and lay

          buried until French archaeologists unearthed it in 1901.

               Thirdly, what is true that the Hamurabi code and the old

          testament must be judged in the context of their times.  We must not

          be blinded to the degree of cruel and unusual punishment they imposed

          on our standards today.  Sometimes it is said that Hamurabi started a

          forward, a more humane treatment of criminals.  According to the

          version of criminology history, prehistoric men functioned with bitter

          vengeance.  In prehistoric times, if a villager raped or stole or

          killed, then a blood feud might develop.  The entire village would be

          destroyed to avenge the crime.  Then came along Hamurabi who set up


          the concept of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, which was a

          softening of the preceding patterns of punishment.  Ultimately,

          Hamurabi was replaced with an even more humane philosophy which we

          expound today, at least we being many people, not all our country,

          rehabilitation rather than retribution.  Once again, we are in an era

          where we seem to be speaking for retribution than rehabilitation,

          getting even.  Actually however, Hamurabi does not start off the

          trend.  The cruelty of the old testament, written at least five

          centuries after Hamurabi, attest to that lack of improvement.  Several

          examples illustrates in the code of Hamurabi, adulterers were

          strangled to death and then thrown into the water.  Strangulation is

          not very pleasant, but at least the whole show is over in a few

          minutes with a relatively painless passing from this world to the

          next.  Contrast the Hamurabic prescription for adultery with the old

          testament which calls for stoning an adulterer to death.  Of course

          some of you are familiar with the scarlet letter.  In Puritan times an

          adulteress had to wear a red A to reflect on her evil and she was

          banned to a large extent from the society.  So again, times change.

          Today what is the punishment for adultery?

          A    Complicated divorce.

               THE PROFESSOR: LOL! A complicated divorce, that's what I was

          thinking.  Possibly or being forced to watch desperate housewives.

               According to Hamurabic law 129, if a man's wife be caught lying

          with another, she shall be strangled and cast into the water.  If the

          wife's husband would save his wife, the king can save his servant.


          The thus there was some flexibility.  Also the punishment is not as

          bad as it sounds, for no one minds being drowned after he's strangled.

          But in the old testament that is a less flexible more stringent code.

          If there is a betrothed virgin and a man meets her in the street and

          lies with her, then you should bring them both out to the gate of that

          city and you should stone them to death with stones -- sort of a bit


               During the late medieval period and up until modern times, there

          was something known as the inquisition.  The inquisition, of course,

          investigated people's faith.  And if they were not good Christians and

          they broke the Christian law, they were brought before the inquisition

          and they were asked to confess.  If they didn't confess, stones were

          piled on them to make them confess one way or another.  Of course that

          also occurred with the witch trials in Salem.  If they confessed to

          being evil, to doing evil, they would be garreted, which is another

          big word or strangled, but with a piece of wire metal, and then burned

          at the stake.  But if they refused to confess their sins, they were

          burned at the stake alive.  And of course those were called autdefe

          A-U-T-D-E-F-E, the testing of faith, the burning by fire through

          faith.  Fire was considered a cleansing force.  It healed you.  And of

          course that may explain the ever lasting fires of hell, which I

          pointed out, is also similar, is not coming from the Zoroastrian

          religion coming from Persia.  Our background is there, our stories or

          history, our myths.  Maybe they're preparations for the coming of

          modern religion, Christianity, Muslim, or other faiths.


               If any the trends or Hamurabi the old testament is toward more

          rigid and more cruel punishment rather than less as sometimes alleged,

          this difference can be seen in the corresponding sections of the

          generation Hamurabic law.  If a son has struck his father, his hand

          shall be cut off.  The old testament, whoever curses his father or his

          mother shall be put to death.  Is there anybody here who would be

          alive today?  Never curse your parents?  I don't think I ever did

          either.  I hate to say that.  I did get along well with my parents.  I

          was perverted.

               Another example in the corresponding section on runaway farm

          animals.  This on poor animals.  According to Hamurabic law 250-251,

          if a bull has gone wild and gored a man and caused his death, there

          can be no suit against the owner.  However, in a man's ox be agora

          (sic) and reveal his evil propensity as agora and he has not shut up

          the ox and then that ox has gored a freeman and caused his death, the

          owner shall pay after a mina of silver.  Of course in San Francisco

          when a dog attacks you -- nothing happens to the ox who is, after all,

          a dumb animal and the owner, even in the most severe cases, is

          permitted to pay a fine.  But in the mosaic code, the ox is to be fund

          by stoning and the owner could be killed as punishment.  If an ox

          gores a man or a woman and -- mosaic, then the ox shall surely be

          stoned and worse, that poor ox -- ready?  His flesh shall not be

          eaten.  You can't even eat the ox or the flesh of him.  But if the ox

          then accustomed to gore in the past and the owner has been warned but

          has not kept it in and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be


          stone and its owner shall also be put to death.  Sometimes I wish when

          I read about some of those animal attacks that took place, that this

          was still in affect, but that's my sense of retribution.  If a ransom

          is laid on him and he should give for redemption of his life, whatever

          is laid upon him.  In other words, the owner can be fined heavily.

          Furthermore, we must not forget about the sins of the fathers be

          visited upon the sons unto the fourth and fifth generations.  That

          aspect of the mosaic code resembles the curse and plague syndrome of

          Greek culture than it does Hamurabi.

               Hamurabi does push upon the type of law now as law 230 indicates.

          If the builder as caused the owner of the house to die owning to the

          house's faulty construction, one shall put to death the son of that

          builder.  It may have been worse going into construction in those days

          and trying to rip people off.  The different treatment before the law

          that the near eastern code sanctioned is the prominent feature of the

          code of Hamurabi.

               Note the different punishments given for those of different

          status.  If a man has knocked out the eye of a patrition (phonetic)

          meaning noble upper class, his eye be knocked out.  There's an eye for

          an eye and a tooth for a tooth from Hamurabi's code.  If he has broken

          the limb of a patrician, his limb shall broken.  If he has knocked out

          the eye of a plebeian, a common person or has broken the limb of a

          plebeian, he as pay one minute of silver.  So all those common people

          starving and suffering and no place to live in New Orleans, all we

          have to do is send Bechtel and Halliburton in to take care of them and


          so we're paying another fine there.  Had you heard that?  It is

          Halliburton and Bechtel who are doing the clean up, the largest

          contributors to the Republican Party, Bush and Cheney.  It's not just

          Iraq that they go in to build.  If he has knocked out the eye of a

          patrition servant or broken the limb of a servant, he shall pay half

          his value.  In other words, the slave's value.  In this respect, the

          old testament did not improve upon Hamurabi, ceasing upon this

          opportunity to free the slave exodus 2126.  When a man strikes the eye

          of his slave, male or female and drys it, he should let the slave go

          free for the eye's sake.  There are other palms and exodus that

          provide for the possibility of freedom for slaves.  But the overall

          tenure of the order to uphold slavery as a way of life just as

          Hamurabi did.

               Of course there's a danger in relying exclusively upon a literal

          interpretation of the laws of society.  How the laws are implied and

          how strictly they are enforced need to be considered less one be miss

          lied.  Never the less, the general orientation of the laws does mirror

          what societies are like.  By these standards, the code of Hamurabi was

          not the forerunner or more humane forerunner of treatment towards

          criminals.  The difference, treatment before the law, the support of

          slavery, these are among the more objectionable features of both the

          code of Hamurabi and the old testament.  They are features that are

          frequently glossed over as historians praised the unique and

          comprehensive achievements of early civilized man.  Perhaps an eye for

          an eye is a little better than a blood feud involving an entire


          family, but we must also be aware of Hamurabic law 235.

               If a slave has struck a freeman, they shall cut off his ear.

          Expect for the specific part of the anatomy involved, this type of

          mutilation resembles the treatment of slaves in America we deceived

          for confinement an unruly majority.  Putting Hamurabi in perspective

          then, we find the double standards are authorized and that equality

          before the law is not a part of ancient law codes.  We live in an age

          in which equality before the law, both in theory and in practice, is

          one of the most relevant issues.  If Hamurabi is to shape our

          attitude, then law and order will be the number one goal, not justice.

          What room is there in our society for those who prefer to follow

          heritage of great dissent figures.  Watch Antigone, Thoreau, and

          Martin Luther King junior, all of whom protested unjust laws.  With

          Antigone we come from the first major symbol of nonviolent dissent in

          western civilization.  She is the character in the Sophocles play,

          Antigone, who buries her father in defiance of the degree of the city

          Creon to permit burial because Antigone's brother was a traitor.

          Antigone cannot except the ban on his burial because burial meant so

          much to the Greeks and because she feels she has an unbroken loyalty

          to her brother, so she becomes the spokesperson for the law.  This is

          higher than manmade law.  She disobeys civil authority because she

          believes in justice of what she is doing and because, in her view, the

          man made law is unjust.  Antigone became a much talked about symbol of

          evil through the years of western civilization and was bloodying up

          the battlefields.  From the time the play was written, in the 15th


          century BC to the middle of the 19th century, this was merely an

          academic symbol.  Although there are many protests against established

          law before the mid 19th century, none of them mentioned Antigone by

          name.  However, about 1850 new vitality and relevance was breathed

          into Sophocles famous --

               The issue was brought to the head with slavery, the very same

          institution upheld in so many ways but the law code of the ancient

          near East.  The horrible injustice and cruelty of the slavery

          stimulated many Americans to question the validity of the law of the

          government that upheld them.  One questionnaire was a man named Henry

          David Thoreau who wrote a famous essay on civil disobedience.

          Excerpts -- well okay.  Thoreau advocated defiance of unjust laws and

          spent a day in jail for refusing to pay his poll tax as a protest

          against his government's support of slavery as an institution as a

          measure of his defiance.  There is a famous exchange between Thoreau

          and his essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson.  And of course this has

          been quoted many times.  Emerson says -- what are you doing in jail,

          Henry?  And Ralph says -- what are you doing out of jail?  In the

          times to come, similar to the Vietnam War era, I have a feeling you'll

          be hearing more and more of this candidly, why are you not in jail

          protesting rather than out of jail?  What is your choice going to

          mean?  Some of you will readily support the government, but you are

          college students, and there will be some of you who will oppose

          government action.  It's just the innate nature quote/unquote of

          college students.  So this is more than an academic exercise.  It's a


          reality I think of where we exist.  Of course this is Ohlone College,

          not Berkeley, so it may not be as many of you as might be at Cal,

          although some of you are going to Cal to get perverted.  Since the end

          of the second world war, American society has been undergoing the most

          serious and sustained challenges to the stability of its cultural

          canons and social institutions.  A very important role in protest

          movements against established myths and traditions can be made by

          individuals and groups who show the influence of the spirit of

          Antigone, Thoreau, Gandhi, and King.  Gandhi, King -- civil

          disobedience, different from what many people are willing to do in our

          society today.  Civil disobedience was taking the punishment.

          Translation, when you broke the law, you were willing to go to prison

          and take the punishment without complaining.  Today people complain if

          they're punished for breaking the law or do less, promote violence.

          And that's quite a difference than the nonviolent philosophy of Gandhi

          or Martin Luther King Jr.  We are perhaps living in more violent times

          or we don't have the leaders to try and convince people to protest and

          take their punishment, which creates sort of a more moral standard

          image and acceptance of natural law, I guess, is what you'd call it.

               Current events have created something that basically needs us to

          reassess the old western civilization and look at the relevance of the

          old laws from the ancient near East.  So basically what is your

          future?  What do you think?  Where does the relevance lie?  Are you

          for law and order?  And if so, to what level and to what extent?  I

          felt that this particular essay as written in 1971 has a lot of


          relevance to decision making today and I am definitely a believer in a

          pendulum; in other words, history repeats itself, obviously not in the

          same manner or fashion.  But those who do not study history are doomed

          to repeat it.  And that's a different element of a tragedy in and of


               Yeah.  I guess I'll leave it with my sermon for today.  You can

          leave your money in your hat as we go out.