Articles

The Judiciary’s Theatrical Achilles’ Heel: Acting the Fool (RAF members) compared to Acting in Bad Faith (Alex Jones)

Author
  • Frans-Willem Korsten (Leiden University)

Abstract

This article compares theatrical courtroom provocations by leftist activists and militants in the 1960s and 1970s with recent ‘bad faith’ actions in court by the American right-wing activist Alex Jones. The article proposes that law’s theatrical way of showing a general audience how the judiciary aims to serve justice is annoyed but not threatened by defendants acting the fool. The reason is that acting the fool provokes a confrontation between two different kinds of theater in court. In this confrontation, the agonistic logic of the court case is still operative, with the law embodying power and the accused acting as its carnivalesque challenger. When the accused acts in bad faith, however, there is a double confrontation, namely inside and outside the court. Those acting in bad faith are what Johan Huizinga defines as spoilsports who pretend to play the game while aiming to destroy it. The article considers how the spoilsport manifests itself in and outside of court through contemporary media and concludes that the theatrical nature of the judiciary needs protection in order to do justice to victims.

Keywords: rule of law, theatricality, acting in bad faith, populism, media platforms

How to Cite:

Korsten, F., (2023) “The Judiciary’s Theatrical Achilles’ Heel: Acting the Fool (RAF members) compared to Acting in Bad Faith (Alex Jones)”, Documenta 41(2): 8, 207-227. doi: https://doi.org/10.21825/documenta.90036

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Published on
20 Dec 2023
Peer Reviewed