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The Australian journalist, John Bailey, came upon the story of Sally Miller while he was researching the laws of slavery in the United States. He found the story of Sally Miller, supposedly a German child who had been sold into slavery so compelling, that he decided to use her as an exemplar of what he'd discovered about the law and tell her story, which had been publicized in many pamphlets in the ealy 19the Century when the action took place, from a slightly different perspective. Legal principles do drive the tale. For example,

The slave . . . cannot be a party in any civil action, either as a plaintiff or a defendant, except when he has to claim or prove his freedom. Article 177 of the Civil Code of the State of Louisiana
explains how it happened that the woman known as Sally Miller never had occasion to represent or mis-represent anything about herself during the five years the matter of her freedom was in the courts.

On the other hand, the importance of appearances (never mind that they might be deceiving) in judicial proceedings was pervasive, not just in Virginia, where it was enunciated by one Judge Tucker in 1806,

Suppose three persons . . . were brought together before a judge upon a writ of habeas corpus on the grounds of false imprisonment and detention in slavery. . . . How must a judge act in such a case?  I answer he must judge from his own view. He must discharge the white person and the Indian out of custody . . . and he must redeliver the black or mulatto person, with the flat nose and wooly hair to the person claiming to hold him or her as a slave . . .
but to the jury in New Orleans, Louisiana, which could not come to a conclusion, as well as the judge who eventually determined Sally Miller should be free.

But then, freedom was not the absolute good we might think.

The question of freedom should be determined, like every other question made before the courts, solely upon the legal aspects, without partiality to an applicant for freedom, because he may be defenseless, and a member of an inferior race, and certainly without prejudice to his kind and color, and without regard to the sincere conviction that all candid, observing men must emtertain, that a change from the condition of servitude and protection, to that of being free negroes, is injurious to the community, and more unfortunate to the emancipated negro than to any one else.
Indeed, freedom is downright "injurious," and the rule of law, being totally impartial, not only makes it possible for men to wash their hands of such matters, but to determine that the "protection" being provided is a boon--notions that are with us to this day, only more widely applied. Equality demands that we all be "protected" for our own good. The impartial law is a recipe for total tyranny.
The slave, to remain a slave, must be made sensible, that there is no appeal from his master; that his power is no instance usurped; but is confirmed by the laws of man at least, if not the law of God. Judge Ruffin of North Carolina, 1829
It's no wonder contemporary cons are strong proponents of the "rule of law." It lets them, as individuals, off the hook for the subjugation of their fellow man. Moreover, unlike the law of God, the laws of man are much easier to change, even as the ruse of impartiality is maintained. If some are not to be unjustly deprived, universal deprivation is a logical alternative. Thus, the U.N. finding that U.S. health care is worse than that of sixteen other industrial nationsis not a happenstance. It is a result that is entirely consistent with the determination that humans are a natural resource, available to be exploited by their betters.

Is it a step too far to argue that human husbandry is a compromise in response to "involuntary servitude," except as punishment for proven crime, having been rule out of bounds?  Perhaps, but the reluctance to recognize human rights, in addition to the civil rights and obligations secured in the last century, seems telling. Why does the U.S., alone, with Somalia, resist ratification of the convention on the rights of the child? Why are our teens running away from home by the millions? Is it because, while the law changes, the attitudes that motivate it persist?

Natural fruits are such as are the spontaneous produce of the earth; the produce and increase of cattle and the children or slaves are likewise natural fruits. Article 537 of the Civil Code of the State of Louisiana
No doubt, Todd Akin, he of the body that "shuts that whole thing down," would agree.
The nice thing about volitions is that the will can be changed. All it takes is the right propaganda ("there is no free lunch") or a tweaking of the law to make the involuntary voluntary. Then servitude can continue just as before. Witness the all-volunteer military, going off to be slaughtered for a pack of lies.

Exploitation or slaughter. Some choice.

Originally posted to hannah on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 03:53 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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