Someday, perhaps decades from now, Judge Henry Latham will die, most likely in comfortable surroundings and in the company of his loved ones. If he retains so much as a particle of his conscience, Latham will spend every day until his expiry haunted by the fact that he arranged for the death, through torture, of an innocent, harmless, terminally ill man.
Latham is the robed functionary who presided over the “trial” of Iowa resident Benton MacKenzie, a 48-year-old man who was found guilty of the supposed crime of marijuana possession. MacKenzie has never been found guilty of harming another human being, but because he had two previous drug convictions in his record, he faces mandatory prison time. This means that the terminally ill man – who suffers from a rare and acutely aggressive form of cancer – will die in a cage as the claimed property of the criminal syndicate calling itself the government. In that setting he will be denied access to the medication that has granted him some measure of relief. MacKenzie’s wife, Loretta, and son, Cody, have also been convicted on multiple charges arising from their efforts to help him find relief for the unbearable symptoms of his incurable condition.
Police in Scott County, Iowa stole 71 marijuana plants from MacKenzie’s home in May 2013. Their owner was using them to harvest cannabis oil, which is recognized in Iowa as a legitimate medicine – but only for the treatment of epilepsy. Several weeks prior to the trial, Latham – his demeanor utterly devoid of anything resembling a human quality – ruled that MacKenzie “may not comment on his condition … and may not testify to the medical use of marijuana” during the trial. Because Latham decreed that the motive of the alleged criminal was “not relevant to the facts of this case,” the defendant was explicitly forbidden to tell the “whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
This derangement of judicial discretion, and MacKenzie’s principled honesty, greatly simplified the task of Assistant Scott County DA Patrick McAlyea: All the prosecutor had to do was to ask a handful of questions and turn the matter over to a typically incurious jury. Not a single member of that panel questioned the propriety of prosecuting the visibly suffering man, who had to bundle up in a blanket in order to give testimony in his own show trial, and was rushed to the hospital on Monday after being incapacitated by pain.
I expect that at some point in the near future we’ll hear from one or more of the jurors who endorsed the torture-death of Benton MacKenzie and the official persecution of his wife and son. We’ll be told that they were given a difficult, unpleasant, but necessary task – that they had to set aside their sentiments and apply the “law,” as if that term properly applied to a political edict mandating such an outcome.
The jurors who were complicit in this crime probably fit Isabel Patterson’s description of the “good people” of every age and culture who consciously participate in state-licensed cruelty, torture, and murder on behalf of what they have been convinced is “a worthy object.”
The jurors might find some extenuation – a very tiny amount – in the fact that they were conscripted to participate on pain of imprisonment if they refused. This is not true of Latham and McAlyea, who are paid from the proceeds plundered through the evil system that they serve, and should be reminded of the evil that they embody every single day until they depart the mortal realm and join Roland Freisler and Andrei Vyshinsky in hell.10:54 am on July 13, 2014