Fascism in the U.S. Courts!

Just noticed this today:

See here for more details. Proof positive, it seems to me. Of everything.

UPDATE: After I linked to the Wikipedia entry, someone deleted the section I was linking to; fortunately, commenter Anderson posted a link to the old version of the entry, and I've revised this post to link to that. That sort of thing is one of the problems with linking to Wikipedia, though it's not that serious a problem when it comes to topics such as this.

Per Hojmark (mail):
Zero comments! I guess no one gets the reference...
7.6.2008 7:31am
When I read your first sentence, I thought that someone had snuck in a swastika or Hitler's moustache. Phew!

But that bundle of rods with the axe was already used in ancient Rome and Napoleon's France. Acutally, every European/French passeport still has that thing on the front cover, I really don't think that this is a sign of fascism.
7.6.2008 7:32am
Symbolism is in the eye of the beholder, after all.

And conspiracy theories prove themselves.

7.6.2008 8:31am
Joe Bingham (mail):
Vote for Ron Paul...
7.6.2008 8:36am
I assume this is a reference the the fasce (I'm not sure of the spelling, but the axe with the sticks around it). Isn't the problem that, as a Roman symbol of judicial power, it doesn't really have anything to do with fascism besides the fact that at one point it was used as a lingusitic reference point for some bad ideas..
7.6.2008 8:38am
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
I think the point is that "that bundle of rods with the axe" is the very fasces from which Fascism took its name.
7.6.2008 8:39am
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
JK posted his comment while I was writing mine. Since he asks about the spelling, the Latin word is fascis in the singular, fasces in the plural -- it follows the same pattern as axis/axes, basis/bases, and analysis/analyses --, but the Romans almost always used the plural even to refer to one bundle. The word means "bundle", usually of sticks, but sometimes (e.g.) of books. Firewood-gatherers would of course take a rope along into the woods to tie up what they found so they could carry it efficiently. The word is related to 'fascicle' (a small bundle) and perhaps to 'fascinate', though the connection of fascinum ("evil spell, bewitchment", "penis", "phallic emblem (worn round the neck as a charm)") to bundles is not obvious. Just to add to the possibilities for inadvertent offensiveness, the second meaning for fascis given in the Oxford Latin Dictionary (a British production) is "faggot".
7.6.2008 8:50am
Sensible Lawyer (mail):
Are you sure you don't mean fagot?
7.6.2008 8:58am
Heck, there's three of 'em on the back of the Mercury dime - which, suspiciously enough, we quit minting in 1945. ;^)
7.6.2008 9:01am
@ Dr. Weevil:
Thanks, now I see.

I still think that it is quite a long shot.
...on the other hand, that's exactly what those Illuminati want me to think.

7.6.2008 9:02am
emsl (mail):
For some years I worked in a federal courthouse in Boston built in the 1930's. The cornices were the fasces shown in the seal and were about eight feet high. I would guess very few of the thousands that used the courthouse knew what they were or made the connection.
7.6.2008 9:14am
subpatre (mail):
Eugene, that's a good catch and cute. So what's so wrong with fascism —the bundling together of subsidary entities— within a government department? Holding that the various employees, functions and sub-departments exist to serve the over-office; and that in turn existing solely to serve the government itself.

It as a government that fascism is loathsome. Holding that people and industry, localities, cities and states all exist to serve that government; that is odious and the antithesis of our American liberties.

[It serves as a warning why former government bureaucrats may not be good, or even acceptable, as elected officials; and why even good elected people often 'drift' toward bad policies.]
7.6.2008 10:17am
Redlands (mail):
So easy to go sideways with any post to the VC. But a small dose of humorous irony is always appreciated. And it is Sunday morning.
7.6.2008 10:31am
Are you sure you don't mean fagot?
Who are you calling a bassoon, bucko?
7.6.2008 10:38am
CDR D (mail):
The fasces were carried by lictores on the left shoulder as they walked in front of Roman magistrates who possessed imperium. Consuls rated 12 lictors, Praetors rated six, and a dictator rated 24.

As an ancient symbol of authority, I don't see why we ought to allow a 20th century invention to completely co-opt it. JMO
7.6.2008 11:01am
r.friedman (mail):
Note the post horn symbol of the Tristero at the top
7.6.2008 11:16am
Syd Henderson (mail):
Especially since strength through unity is a good symbol for the creation of the United States.

I'd never seen the mace of the House of Representatives before. That's cool. Looks like it would be good for bopping unruly Congressmen on the head. (Not with the end with the eagle, of course.)
7.6.2008 11:25am
Did someone just delete a whole chunk of that wikipedia entry? I wanted to have another look at the mace that syd mentioned. That's spooky.

Illuminati!! They are everywhere...aaaahhh....
7.6.2008 11:39am
Dennis Nicholls (mail):
If that's the symbol of the US federal courts, shouldn't it show 5 sticks bundled together on one side and 4 sticks bundled together on the other side?
7.6.2008 12:38pm
Anderson (mail):
Did someone just delete a whole chunk of that wikipedia entry?

Yeah, the section EV linked to is kaput -- just deleted by someone who found it "unencyclopedic."

Here's the page with the section EV linked.

You can also go to the discussion page and tell the editor he's a nitwit.
7.6.2008 1:10pm
Thanks, Eugene!

Already once in my career, I had to oppose a pro se vexatious litigant who claimed a judgment against him was invalid because he was a "citizen of the Ohio free republic" and not a U.S. citizen, therefore not subject to the jurisdiction of the courts. Another argument frequently made by those types of guys is that court judgments are invalid when the flag flying in the courtroom has a gold fringe on it. You've just added a THIRD potential argument into these guys' quivers -- that the courts have betrayed their constitutional oath by being fascist, and the seal of the court's adminstrative office proves that it is fascist. :)
7.6.2008 5:27pm
Crane (mail):
Warning sign of being a D&D nerd, #472:

You look at the Mace of the House of Representatives and think that it's inappropriately named - maces are supposed to have spikes, so they can do both bludgeoning and piercing damage. Clearly what the House has is some sort of war hammer.

Either way, it looks like it would be very effective at dealing with filibusters.
7.6.2008 10:22pm
General Disarray:
For people who presumably are counting on remaining undetected to carry out their plan of world domination, the Illuminati sure do have a strong exhibitionist streak.
7.6.2008 10:59pm
That's because we appreciate the value of fnord misdirection.

Look! Ponies!
7.7.2008 1:57am

Thanks for planting those unbidden pictures of Nancy Pelosi in a Xena outfit swinging that mace...scepter... +4 warhammer... whatever...into my poor innocent head . ;-)
7.7.2008 2:00am
Thales (mail) (www):

I thought clerics were allowed to use maces because they don't pierce or otherwise shed blood . . .

My law school also has a fasces in its seal, though they made it look a little less threatening by removing the head of the axe. The center rod/axe, by the way, represents imperium, that is, the state's absolute power over life and death. I suppose the fasces could be argued to have neutral symbolic connotations of the rule of law enduring over the ages, without regard to ideology. Really though, even before Mussolini revived it for his own propaganda, it was probably inappropriate iconography in any modern liberal state where individual rights can constrain the acts of the government.
7.7.2008 11:47am
Stacy (mail) (www):
CDR D "As an ancient symbol of authority, I don't see why we ought to allow a 20th century invention to completely co-opt it. JMO"

Want to think that one over again now that you've had your coffee? :) The Swastika (Godwin?) was also an ancient symbol of something much more warm and fuzzy than Nazism, but I doubt you'd argue we shouldn't let some johnny-come-lately political movement co-opt it.

Of course, applying the only standard that truly matters -- public name recognition -- I'll go ahead and say the fasce is no big deal. You'd probably have to start using it in your wannabe-presidential seal before anyone would notice or talk about it...
7.7.2008 12:23pm
Crane (mail):
Thales -

Darn, you're right. I was mixing up maces and morningstars. And it was indeed a rule of the medieval Christian church that members of the clergy could only use blunt weapons which would not "shed blood". (Of course, bashing someone's skull in is likely to produce some external bleeding, but let that pass.) Just one of many historical examples of the triumph of legalistic hair-splitting over the spirit of the law!

I'm pretty sure D&D doesn't have a general ban on clerics using edged or piercing weapons. Clerics start out with proficiency in all simple weapons, which includes daggers, spears, and crossbows.

surrender_monkey -

Tou're welcome. :D
7.7.2008 1:49pm
CDR D (mail):
>>>Of course, applying the only standard that truly matters -- public name recognition -- I'll go ahead and say the fasce is no big deal. You'd probably have to start using it in your wannabe-presidential seal before anyone would notice or talk about it...


Well, we didn't let those nasties co-opt the eagle, did we? And an eagle IS on the presidential seal. ;)
7.7.2008 6:37pm