27 April 2007

The First Thing We Do

CADE Be brave, then; for your captain is brave, and vows reformation. There shall be in England seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny: the three-hooped pot; shall have ten hoops and I will make it felony to drink small beer: all the realm shall be in common; and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to grass: and when I am king, as king I will be,—
ALL God save your majesty!
CADE I thank you, good people: there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree like brothers and worship me their lord.
DICK The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
CADE Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled o'er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings: but I say, 'tis the bee's wax; for I did but seal once to a thing, and I was never mine own man since. How now! who's there?

William Shakespeare, 2 Henry VI, Act IV, sc. 2.

Many people are fond of quoting Dick the Butcher's line out of context, as if a credible character was serious in proposing that the lawyers should all die. Dick the Butcher, though, is far from a credible character; he is instead an aspiring petty tyrant. This bears a disturbing resemblance to what's going on at Gitmo: If the government can't kill the defense lawyers, it will at minimum force them out of the military (as happened to Lt Cmdr Swift) and treat them as if they're a greater threat than the prisoners.

Dick the Butcher. Dick Cheney. Hard to tell the difference.