Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Law and Order: Magic

I stayed after ballet and took the jazz class last night, and now I'm really feeling it. Normally, the post-dance pain doesn't hit until late Wednesday or Thursday morning, so I'm worried what I'll be like later in the day. I've been trying to do some stretching every so often, so we'll see if that keeps me from stiffening up too much. The jazz class involves some regular exercises, like push-ups and crunches, and those are probably good for me, but they contribute to the soreness. However, I feel very virtuous from having exercised that much. I didn't even come home and gobble down a lot of cookies and hot cocoa after class.

Meanwhile, I've made some tentative steps in my organization project. Both e-mail inboxes are below 900 messages each. And I decided that step one in physical organization should be dealing with the stack of "to be shredded" stuff. I'm bad about not getting around to shredding the junk mail (all the insurance and credit card offers), and then when I need to do a frantic living room cleaning, it all gets thrown in a box and stashed in the office. Emptying those boxes will clear space in the office. I figure that getting rid of the known trash will make it easier to sort through the other stuff and either file or trash it. It also gives me visible results, which are important at the start of a project like this.

Now, after the holiday interruption, I'm back to addressing questions about the Enchanted, Inc. universe. Unless there's one that I've forgotten in the great e-mail backlog, this is the last one I have on file that isn't spoilery for future books or a tiny matter that isn't meaty enough for a blog post. So, if there's something you're curious about regarding the world or characters of this series, ask away!

Today's question relates to a justice system within the magical world. For instance, the way that Philip's family company was stolen from him and he was turned into a frog to get him out of the way. How could something like this be handled in the magical world, and who would be responsible, the person who planned it or the person who did it?

I actually have a magical justice system (Katie refers to it as "Law and Order: Magic") worked out, though it hasn't come up yet in the published books. Ordinary law is pretty much useless for dealing with magical crimes or with crimes committed using magic. There is a code of conduct that is the law in the magical world, and there are bodies that enforce that law. Each region has a council that hears cases of violations of this code, with membership made up of leading magical citizens. The president of Magic, Spells and Illusions, Inc. has an automatic seat on this council but isn't necessarily in charge of it. Owen's foster parents used to be involved with this council before they retired.

There are also magical enforcers who track down violators of the magical code and take them into custody for trial. They have some special tools to allow them to deal with other magic users.

Some of the things this council and the enforcers do aren't exactly Constitutional, but the magical laws pre-date the Constitution, and most members of the magical community are of the opinion that the great privileges that come with magical powers should come with greater responsibilities. It's kind of like the way "elite" groups may be held to higher standards, like cheerleaders may have to abide by a stricter code of conduct than the usual school rules. Or the way a religion may forbid some things that aren't illegal and may discipline its members for violating elements of the faith that aren't illegal. You won't go to jail for using electricity, but if you're Amish and use electricity, you'll likely find yourself facing questions from the elders. Besides, try going to the ACLU and complaining that you've been illegally tried by a secret magical court.

There are spoilery plot reasons why this council hasn't yet dealt with Idris, but the council in general isn't all that effective. It's very political, with a lot of alliances and infighting, and you have to get them to agree on something before they take action. If an influential person insists that something isn't a problem, then nothing may get done. They don't really bother themselves with what they consider "petty" offenses, only focusing on things that might affect the overall position of the magical community. It would be like if the US Supreme Court had a direct enforcement arm, and they were responsible for all crime, from shoplifting to murder. You probably wouldn't get much other than the most serious crimes investigated and prosecuted, unless someone powerful had a pet issue. So far, Idris has mostly just been encouraging others to commit relatively petty crimes, so Merlin has been trying to treat it as a business competition issue and has taken matters into his own hands. However, there is much more afoot ...

No comments: