Tooth, Nail, and Justice

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At one end of Terminal C in the Minneapolis airport there is a large mural of the African veldt, with a running antelope and cheetah. After a moment’s reflection, one notices an anomaly: the antelope is running behind the cheetah. And then one notices the statement at the bottom of the mural: “Under the Rule of Law All Are Equal.”

I first noticed this mural when I saw a mother explaining it to her young boy. “Before,” she told him, “the wild cat would chase the antelope, but now the antelope is chasing the cat.”

I submit that this little tableau, this passing of information from one generation to the next, catches much o~ what Americans now believe about the law, and why libertarian thought has lost the battle of ideas.

What does the rule of law provide? Equality? No, it provides payback for past grievances. Once blacks were enslaved. Now they deserve affirmative action. Once women could be violated by their husbands with impunity. Now they can barely be cross-examined in court when they··accuse someone of rape. Once cheetahs chased antelopes. Now antelopes get to chase cheetahs. The idea they might be running together as equals never even occurred to the woman, who no doubt wants the best for her child, while providing him with an understanding of the rule of law more suitable to Hobbes’ state of nature, where life is nasty, brutish, and short.

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