He Showed Us What He Was Made Of

Two Josh Hawleys on January 6, 2021

Missouri calls itself the “Show Me” state. In yesterday’s session of the Congressional January 6 Insurrection Investigation Committee, it took only a few minutes to show that senator from Missouri was, after all, just another whiny little bitch with delusions of grandeur.

Early in the day, he was photographed giving a fist pump to rile up the demonstrators who were listening to the former president urging them to march on the Capitol Building. Yesterday, we saw the true Josh Hawley, fleeing from the mob he had encouraged, while the Capitol Police had to stand by to protect him and his like from the forces he helped set in motion.

As time goes on, I see the marchers and their supporters as people who are damaged into different ways. So many of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers still lived with their parents and were unable to hold down a job. Today Steve Bannon was declared guilty on two counts of Contempt of Congress and will be sentenced in October—all because he believed that he was protected by “executive privilege.” I don’t recall that argument ever working before, especially inasmuch as only guilty people seem to cling to it.

So far I have seen three of the televised January 6 congressional committee meetings. They have given me some hope that, perhaps, Mar-a-Lago Fats and his confederates will end up in the pokey.

I keep thinking of Latin American avenues and squares being named after calendar dates, such as the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires and 20 de Noviembre all through Mexico. Perhaps the access road to some of our Federal Prisons should be renamed to Avenue January 6.

The Third Degree

Louis Jouvet (Right) Sweating a Suspect (2nd from Left)

The French criminal justice system is very different from our own. I have just finished reading Georges Simenon’s Maigret and the Burglar’s Wife [Maigret et la grande perche] (1951); plus I have just recently seen Henri-Georges Clouzot’s film Quai des Orfêvres (1947). In both works, the investigating inspectors give their suspects the third degree. It is a process of intimidating the suspect until he or she talks, no matter how long it takes. In the film, there was a kind of tag team of interrogation, involving Inspector Antoine (Louis Jouvet) and the two detectives above with cigarettes hanging from their lips.

I wonder if things have changed that much in the last seventy years or so. France’s laws are based on the Napoleonic Code of 1804, in which there is a presumption of guilt rather than innocence, as in English Common Law. Suspects could be held in custody for longer periods of time until the evidence was clear.

In the Simenon novel, Inspector Maigret proceeds with the arrest even before this point, because he is so sure that the evidence is forthcoming. In the movie, the suspects, Maurice Martineau and Jenny Lamour, are convinced they will be framed by Inspector Antoine, who actually frees them when he gets a confession (albeit by sustained intimidation) from the real murderer.

It is interesting to see and read about police procedurals from other countries. In the United States, we have adopted English law. I rather suspect that, in the end, both legal systems are equally fair—or unfair.