Ground Different Understanding Common…

(not necessarily in this exact order).

Today I start a new approach for my blog, from now on I’ll try to write in English while I live here in Washington, DC. This is not my native language (I’m a native Brazilian-Portuguese speaker) so, please, correct me whenever I go wrong! (And that’s why I pray excuses for any misspelling or grammatical errors to come).

You might be wondering why the shuffled words of this article’s title. That’s the main subject of the premise I want to address here – our ability to communicate and understand each other.

In order to make you understand what I want to talk about I have to respect a system of rules of English language. Therefore, the least I can do, for example, is to choose the words that can express its exact and rightful meaning (I do not mean to neglect word’s polysemy, but as you’ll see it’s not the case here).

So, it may be obvious, but I have to say: we must obey all the language’s lexical and grammatical rules.

That’s how it is possible for me to communicate (and be equally understood) to native and non-native English speakers.

This is the central point of this post, something that should be logical like the meaning of “coherence” word. What I want to address here is about the “signs” and the “user of signs”. Words as indivisible part of the “sign” (linguistic sign) that represent the meaning of something in particular. A tool used by the “user of signs” (speaker and audience) for communication and understanding.

In Brazil, coherence seems to be an expensive asset, since it’s something rare for us nowadays. I shall explain why…

Since late 2015 early 2016, Brazil is facing a major political crisis involving the three branches of Power (Legislative, Executive and Judiciary). Through all this political instability process I keep repeating myself at social networks (Twitter and Facebook) that the respect for Portuguese lexical and grammatical rules comes before the Rule of Law – respect of the Constitution. If we do not respect the former how can we say we’re respecting the latter?

If we want to respect our Constitution (Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights), first we must start respecting the Dictionary. And I’m sad to say we’re failing miserably at this.

Well, distortion of word’s meanings seems to be something built-in Politics, but in Brazil this Politic’s culture is spread among people like it’s gone viral long ago.

Here some examples that state what I’m saying:

1 – President Dilma’s Impeachment

She is being accused of a constitutional crime of responsibility for alleged attempt against budgetary laws with the so-called “fiscal pedaling” (pedaladas fiscais).

This “crime of responsibility” is a crime of the President’s wrongdoings against Brazilian Federal budgetary laws and he/she can be impeached for that according to Brazilian Constitution and Brazilian Responsibility Crime Law.

The point is: the piece of accusation states that the “fiscal pedaling” violates Responsibility Fiscal Law (LRF) which, despite the word “responsibility” in its name, it is NOT a budgetary law.

The whole accusation argument is based on this fundamental mistake.

NOTE: Brazilian Senate auditors [1] and Federal Prosecutor’s Office [1] made reports which came to the same conclusion, President Dilma is innocent of committing the fiscal maneuvers of the crime of responsibility (but it seems these statements are irrelevant!)

2 – Presumption of Innocence and Brazilian Federal Supreme Court

The Presumption of Innocence is an implicit principle. Its broad meaning is not written in Brazilian Constitution or Laws where you could read “The Presumption of Innocence states that…” . In Brazilian Legal System this Principle derives from several Constitutional and Legal rules. We can say that what is written is even more specific and objective than the whole meaning of the Principle itself.

Brazilian Constitution, Art. 5º, item LVII: “no one shall be considered guilty until the final and unappealable penal sentence”.

Can a Fundamental Right be clearer than this?

Well, I suppose Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF) thinks otherwise since recently, regardless of what our Constitution explicitly says, they ruled that a defendant can be considered guilty and go to jail even though he can still make appeals to the Superior or Supreme Courts. [3]

Yes, it seems tricky, and it is, but our Supreme Court says that our Constitution doesn’t say what it says. Confusing, isn’t it?

3 – Secret Justice that, apparently, doesn’t need secrecy

Brazilian Law constitutes a crime against the Constitutional Fundamental Rights to privacy and intimacy of communications the following act, and I quote: “make phone, internet or telematic communication interception, or break secret justice without judicial authorization or with objectives not legally authorized.”, article 10 of Federal Law number 9296 of 1996. [4]

So, there are two possibilities to remove secret justice from taped interceptions: judicial or legal authorization. It happens that the former is constrained by the latter, it means that a judge can authorize the removal of secret justice only if the law authorizes him to do so. This matter is so important and sensitive that there is a Resolution from Brazilian National Justice Council which regulates such proceeding.[5]

For Federal Judge Sérgio Moro seems that it doesn’t matter that secret justice is the rule for protecting privacy and intimacy of communications’ interception and that there is no legal exception, which means no permission for “judicial authorization”.

He not only taped a conversation of Brazilian President Dilma and former President Lula out of the authorized interception window but also removed the secret justice of this illegal recording (a.k.a. leaked) to Brazilian Great Media channels.

Even though have committed the two possible crimes regarding Article 10 above (“make interception” and “break secret justice”), he just said he was sorry to do so in a letter addressed to STF and is not being held accountable for his act so far (it’s the opposite, actually, he is the Brazilian Hero for fighting against Corruption Crimes). [6]

As far as I know “Regret” is not a legal justification condition (like Necessity or Self-defense) to negate a Criminal Act, yet.

4 – Urgency of almost 5 months

Urgent demands can be granted by judges at pretrial basis, it’s called preliminary injunction and must obey at least this two conditions: substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the lawsuit (fumus boni iuris) and being of urgent matter, the risk of serious and irreparable damage that can occur if the demand is not granted immediately (periculum in mora). [7]

Here’s what happened:

Eduardo Cunha is regarded as Brazilian “Frank Underwood”… But frankly? Senator Palpatine (Darth Sidious) or Frank Underwood are rookies compared to him!!

He is the main actor leading (now behind the scenes) President Dilma’s impeachment process.

Eduardo Cunha is the former (now suspended) Chief Speaker of Brazilian Lower House of Congress. He is being sued for committing several corruption crimes, abuse of power, obstruction of justice and other White Collar crimes before the Supreme Court.[8]

December 2015, Brazilian General Prosecutor filed this lawsuit against Eduardo Cunha with a preliminary injunction demanding his immediate removal from Office as Lower House Representative (and consequently as Chief Speaker). This preliminary injunction was filed a few days after Eduardo Cunha accepted to initiate Dilma’s impeachment process and took almost 5 months to be granted.[9]

What reasonable sense can we extract from “urgent” and “irreparable damage”?

5 – What is Terrorism?

Here I’ll be brief to end this post with some questions:

Is shooting and killing 49 people at an Orlando night club a terrorist attack?

And drive into a crowd in Nice’s streets killing 84?

How about shooting and killing 9 in Munich’s mall?

Why a US drone killing 73 or a French air strike killing 120 civilians in Syria is not terrorism? [10] [11]

This list of examples could go on and on… but I guess I already made my point here.

Conclusion

In my humble perception, coherence can be some kind of measure of someone’s speech integrity. If we want to have a healthy debate we must at least respect word’s meaning as a matter of coherence.

If distortion of word’s meaning compromises understanding in a debate,  you could see, as shown above, the potential damage it causes to the fairness of Justice and Legal System.

Word’s meaning is the Common Ground for a better Understanding. This is why it think coherence and integrity are so important. They are the key to the most basic respect to any debate or the fairness of Justice.


[1] http://cepr.net/blogs/the-world-in-transition/brazilian-prosecutor-finds-no-crime-committed-by-dilma-will-the-law-count-for-anything-in-brazil
[2] http://www.coha.org/dilma-rousseff-found-not-guilty-of-budgetary-maneuvers/
[3] http://justificando.com/2016/02/17/supremo-elimina-presuncao-de-inocencia-e-permite-prisao-a-partir-de-decisao-de-segundo-grau/
[4] http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/leis/L9296.htm
[5] http://www.cnj.jus.br/busca-atos-adm?documento=2602
Art. 17. Neither the magistrate and the civil servant are permitted to provide any pieces of information, either directly or indirectly, to third parties or the media body about classified elements enclosed in processes or inquiries regulated by this resolution, under penalty of accountability according to pertinent legislation.
[6] http://brasil.elpais.com/brasil/2016/03/30/politica/1459296826_155962.html
[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periculum_in_mora
[8] http://www.wsj.com/articles/brazil-attorney-general-asks-top-court-to-oust-house-speaker-1450312504
[9] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-politics-idUSKCN0XV1UB
[10] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/20/us-airstrike-allegedly-kills-56-civilians-in-northern-syria
[11] https://www.rt.com/op-edge/352283-syria-us-france-bombing/
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