by Ray Jones
While in the law library preparing legal documents for a case I was litigating, I
found a book of legal maxims and phrases, many in Latin vulgate, including popular phrases like “pro bono,” (for a good cause or purpose, rather than for a fee), “ad hoc,” (for this [time], temporary), “prima facie,” (at first view), and “habeas corpus,” (literally, have the body, meaning produce the person in court — a guarantee against indefinite, illegal detention that goes back to the Magna Carta). Other expressions, like “Necessity dispenses with decorum,” have a proverbial ring to them. One of them, however, seemed at first to be a joke or out of place in the book, however — “The King Is Mad.”

Then I remembered accounts of historical figures like Mary, Queen of Scots, King Ludwig, Henry VIII, and others accused of insanity, as in “The Madness of King George.” More recently, Time Magazine ran a series claiming Richard Nixon was mentally ill. When we observe behavior and characteristics that have become the norm among people in power, such as compulsiveness (must have their way), conceit (convinced of their own superiority), anti-social cruelty (willing to order the deaths of innocents in pursuit of a policy), suspicion and intolerance of criticism or dissent (conducting massive surveillance and repression), we can see these as indications of madness that support this expression… “The King Is Mad.”

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