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《经济学人》:又一条落网之鱼 Another one in the net

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ONE of the unforgettable experiences to be had in California is to go whale watching in Monterey Bay. Nancy Black, a licensed marine biologist, is one of the scientists who lead these commercial outings, besides doing her own whale research. As Lawrence Biegel, her lawyer, tells it, one day Ms Black was in her research boat with assistants when killer whales attacked a pod of grey whales and killed a calf. Its blubber floated to the surface, and the killer whales were about to feed on it. Seizing this opportunity to film their behaviour, Ms Black threaded ropes through some pieces of blubber, then lowered a camera underwater.

来到加利福尼亚州,前往蒙特利海湾观赏鲸鱼是其中一个令人难忘的经历。南西•布莱克是一位获得执照的海洋生物学家,她是位在研究鲸鱼之余充当这种商业观光活动的导游的科学家之一。她的律师劳伦斯•比格尔说,有一天布莱克女士和助手正在研究船上,当时几头杀人鲸攻击了一群灰鲸并杀死了一只幼鲸。幼鲸的鲸脂浮上海面,而那些杀人鲸则打算以此果腹。为了乘机拍摄杀人鲸的生活习性,布莱克女士用绳将几块鲸脂串起来,然后将一部摄影机放入水下。

For this, Ms Black might now face up to 20 years in prison and half a million dollars in fines, after a federal grand jury indicted her this month. Little about the charges makes common sense. The federal law in question is the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, which was intended to save dolphins, seals and whales from being killed and harassed. The law also banned feeding these animals, on the theory that doing so might compromise their ability to forage naturally in future. Feeding is what Ms Black is now accused of. She says she was using the protocols she had learned from the federal agencies that are now investigating her to observe a natural feeding that was already in progress.

为此,布莱克女士在本月遭到一个联邦大陪审团起诉,如今她可能面临最高二十年的有期徒刑及五十万美元的罚款。这些指控完全不合情理。与此案相关的法律是于1972年颁布的联邦法律《海洋哺乳动物保护法案》。此法旨在保护海豚、海豹、鲸鱼不被捕杀及骚扰;同时也禁止向以上动物喂食,理论依据是这样做会损害日后它们自行觅食的能力。布莱克女士现在被指控的就是向鲸鱼喂食。她说她当时观察鲸鱼捕食所遵循的标准正是从正在调查她的各联邦机构处获得的。

Just as ridiculous, says Mr Biegel, is the accusation, increasingly common in federal cases, that Ms Black lied to the authorities, which carries its own prison terms. Ms Black always edits the commercial videos of her whale outings to make them more interesting. When investigators demanded footage, she gave them one of these edited videos. Prosecutors now claim that she had tampered with evidence.

比格尔说,同样荒唐的是南西被指控对当局撒谎(这种指控在联邦诉讼案件中日益普遍),而单是这项罪名也能被判监禁。布莱克女士总是会对她拍摄的商用鲸鱼视频进行剪辑,好让它们更有意思。当调查方要求获得拍摄胶卷时,她交出了其中一个剪辑过的视频。现在检察官声称她篡改了证据。

To Harvey Silverglate, the author of “Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent”, this is par for the course in America’s federal justice system today. A couple of trends have combined to threaten justice and liberty. First, federal statutes are often so poorly written and so vague that they are in effect incomprehensible. This gives excessive discretion to bureaucrats and prosecutors, with their own career ambitions, who apply them haphazardly.

在《一天三宗罪:联邦政府如何攻击无辜之人》的作者哈维•Silverglate看来,在当今美国的联邦司法体系中发生这种事实属意料之中。现已出现了两种趋势,对司法与自由都产生了威胁。首先,许多联邦法令行文拙劣、含糊其辞,以至于实际上难以理解。这就给了官僚和检查官们过度的决定权,这些各自怀有职业抱负的人会滥用这种权力。

Second, federal law has been moving away from mens rea (“guilty mind”), a common-law tradition that suggests that a person who had no idea he was breaking a law should not be accused of doing so. With bloated federal legislation and without mens rea you can accuse most people of something or other, says Mr Silverglate. The question should be, he says, whether charges are reasonable when they run “counter to all human instinct and experience”.

其次,联邦法律已逐渐抛弃了“犯罪意图”(“犯罪心理”)这一概念。“犯罪意图”是习惯法的一种传统,意思是一个没有意识到自己犯了罪的人不应被起诉。Silverglate说,在名目繁多的联邦法律之下,没有“犯罪意图”这一概念,大部分人都可能因为这样或者那样的罪名遭到起诉。他说,问题应该在于:当指控与“人类所有的常识及经验背道而驰”时,它们仍是合理的吗?

重点单词   查看全部解释    
protection [prə'tekʃən]

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n. 保护,防卫

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mammal ['mæməl]

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n. 哺乳动物

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ridiculous [ri'dikjuləs]

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adj. 荒谬的,可笑的

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innocent ['inəsnt]

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adj. 清白的,无辜的,无害的,天真纯洁的,无知的

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whale [weil]

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n. 鲸
vi. 捕鲸
v. 鞭打,

 
accusation [.ækju'zeiʃən]

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n. 控告,指控,非难

 
calf [kɑ:f]

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n. 小牛,幼崽,愚蠢的年轻人,小牛皮,小腿肚

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evidence ['evidəns]

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n. 根据,证据
v. 证实,证明

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threaten ['θretn]

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v. 威胁,恐吓

 
claim [kleim]

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n. 要求,要求权;主张,断言,声称;要求物

 


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