International Law, like mandatory spaying of stray critters, is probably needed. It seems to work pretty good when it comes to trade issues, such as property, contract and exchange. Where it will never work well is in non-commercial matters such as killing some son of a bitch who deserves it, and not having to worry about some International Body trying to slap your wrist (or hang you) for it. In this case, I speak primarily of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and then our next challenge, Kim Jong Il in North Korea. There exists a concept that might go beyond Webster's definition on outlawry.

Did you know that England in the 10th and 11th centuries was quite the prosperous little country? This was due to an urban economy that was sizzling like the ribs on Edward the Confessor's grill. The head dicks at the time were quite happy to maintain the economic state of affairs in jolly ol' England. For them, this bourgeoning economic wealth was a milch cow. They did all they could to see that these laws of property, contract and exchange were enforced to the max.

However, in other realms of law, it was much more like the Wild Wild West. There were feuds, duels, assassinations, etc. and most were beyond the reach of anything resembling an arm of the law. The principle of outlawry was firmly in place in Anglo-Saxon England, and still is today in regards to systems of law derived from the English. What does this "outlawry" mean? Well, where I live, it basically means that a viable defense is the barrister's statement that, "The motherfucker deserved it."

In other words, it refers to a person whose crimes (or even civil offenses) are so out of line with societal norms that they are beyond the protection of any law which exists. The Anglo-Saxons referred to such a person as a wearg or weargesheafod (a wolf or a wolf's head). This implied that such a person could be put down, like a wolf, without ceremony or legal frippery.

Guess what the preferred method of said slaying was? It was strangulation, like the Goodfellows do down at Fat Tony's Pastaria each and every Saturday night. This was in the manner of old Germanic offerings to their particular gods. This was also the origin of our age-old (and sadly missed by yours truly) tradition of public hangings for capital offenders.

I suspect that if the good citizens of either Iraq or North Korea ever see their ruler in a compromising moment, such as when Ceausescu (the Romanian dictator) was speaking in that Bucharest square that fateful day when boos and jeers arose from the crowd, it's only a few more minutes until you see said Fearless Leader hanging in the Public Square, like the weargesheafod he is.

Thanks to John Derbyshire for some of the information here.

Out"law`ry (?), n.; pl. Outlawries ().


The act of outlawing; the putting a man out of the protection of law, or the process by which a man (as an absconding criminal) is deprived of that protection.


The state of being an outlaw.


© Webster 1913.

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