Monday, July 9, 2012
In Chicago v Morales US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia used the famous American musical Westside Story to illustrate a point. The musical has many themes, one of which is gang life. In Case 002 before this Court Noun Chea Counsel Andrew Ianuzzi employed another cultural manifestation of American gang life, Niggaz Wit Attitudes (NWA), a popular rap band in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It appears that Scalia and Ianuzzi have a number of things in common: they both hail from the same part of the United States, it looks like their people hailed from the same old country and their upbringing in the United States put them as far from gang culture as it possibly gets. This is where the similarities end and differences begin, the main one of which is this: I understand (I do not agree but I do understand) what Scalia is saying in Morales through his gang culture metaphor and how it fits with the context of Morales; I have no idea what Ianuzzi is saying and why he made the risky foray into the popular culture (I will rephrase this for Mr. Ianuzzi into the vernacular he seems to prefer: "Watchaya talkin bout, Willis?"). But let’s take a look.
The NWA song Ianuzzi used to illustrate his point was Express Yourself. The verse which he cited in support of his “argument” was the one in which Dr. Dre talks about musicians who “curse at home [b]ut scared to use profanity when up on the microphone” and “[s]ome say no to drugs and take a stand [b]ut after the show they go looking for the dopeman”. There is a word which describes the people Dr. Dre is talking about here and this word is ‘hypocrites’. Is this what Ianuzzi could not have found “in relevant international jurisprudence”? If the message Ianuzzi was looking to get across was ‘judges, you are hypocrites’ and he looked at the ICTY jurisprudence, I cannot imagine how he could have missed all the abuse that has been hurled at that court by the accused over the last 20 years. But, that aside, if calling the Trial Chamber judges ‘hypocrites’ was Ianuzzi’s intention, this is not an argument and the use of NWA content was not in support of an argument but was a mere way to create an elaborate insult.
Considering Ianuzzi’s familiarity with NWA’s lyrical content, he probably remembers that the Express Yourself single came with a bonus track called A Bitch Iz A Bitch. Considering the particulars of the NC defense team’s acrimony with the TC, is there something else Ianuzzi was trying to say by this reference?
When we think of NWA and Straight Outta Compton Express Yourself does not immediately spring to mind (contrary to Ianuzzi’s assertion). What does spring to mind immediately is Fuck the Police (or “mother-Fuck the Police” as Dr. Dre said later (Dr. Dre, 2001, Forgot About Dre) which is the one track that Straight Outta Compton was known for in that generation and beyond. Is this too part of the message Ianuzzi meant to send to the TC?
Of course, “quod licet lovi, non licet bovi” applies here to distinguish between what sources were available to Scalia for citation, as opposed to those that were available to Ianuzzi. But, this isn’t even the issue here. What is at the core of the difference between the popular culture reference Scalia made and the reference made by Ianuzzi is the intent with which it was made: in Scalia’s case the intent was to illustrate a point; in Ianuzzi’s case it was to create an elaborate insult.