Started the quotation in the previous post a little late – right before, Lincoln is made to say:
Back when I rode the legal circuit in Illinois I defended a woman from Metamora named Melissa Goings, 77 years old, they said she murdered her husband; he was 83. He was choking her; and, uh, she grabbed ahold of a stick of firewood and fractured his skull, ‘n he died. In his will he wrote “I expect she has killed me. If I get over it, I will have revenge.” No one was keen to see her convicted, he was that kind of husband. I asked the prosecuting attorney if I might have a short conference with my client. And she and I went into a room in the courthouse, but I alone emerged. The window in the room was found to be wide open. It was believed the old lady may have climbed out of it. I told the bailiff right before I left her in the room she asked me where she could get a good drink of water, and I told her Tennessee. Mrs. Goings was seen no more in Metamora. Enough justice had been done; they even forgave the bondsman her bail.
So, justice sometimes can’t be left to the courts and the law? Every lynch mob in history would agree with that.
In “The Metaphysical Club”, Menand mentions that part of Oliver Wendall Holmes’ take on law included a sort of grim satisfaction when it was used to crush little people – he saw this as a kind of proof that the judges (the law being whatever judges say it is, after all) were not being overwhelmed by soft hearts and social pressures. Wonder what Kushner’s Lincoln would have thought of that. Kushner depicts Lincoln as the photo negative of a lynch mob, rejecting the law and due process whenever he sees it as necessary to achieve justice, but in a good way.
Could we please have Kushner’s Lincoln debate with Bolt’s Thomas More?