In 1771, James Sommersett, a Boston slave escaped from his master, Charles Stewart, while the two were in England. Sommersett was captured and put aboard a ship bound for Jamaica. An application was made before the Court of King's Bench for a writ of Habeus Corpus, and the ship's captain was ordered to produce Sommesett before the court to determine whether or not his imprisonment was legal.
Chief Justice Lord Mansfield set a date for the hearing, and in February of 1772, Sommersett's Case was brought to trial. His Lordship was fully aware of the possible political, social and economic ramifications of his final decision, but determined not to let them influence him. Quoting the Roman statesman, Piso, Lord Mansfield declared: "Let Justice be done, though the Heavens may fall." The quote must have impressed him as much as it does me, since he used it again, years later, while trying another notorious case.
It is with this long, tortuous prologue that I bring us now to the subject of this post. It concerns the much smaller matter of a far lesser injustice. On Monday, August 10, our friend, Maria Soroski, telephoned to wish the Tall Lady a Happy Birthday. Of itself, this probably seems unremarkable, but most of our contact with her is made through our respective FaceBook accounts.
On Monday, Maria could not post a birthday greeting on Sheral's page. In fact, FaceBook has suspended Maria's posting privileges for fifteen days. VOKRA, the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association, will be holding its Second Annual Festival and Walk for Kitties on Sunday, August 21 at Jericho Beach, beginning at 10:00 am. Maria has been reminding her friends of this event at great length and with frequent repetition, as have I.
In her case, though, FaceBook has deemed that she is advertising the event, and has imposed the suspension as a cuff on her naughty little wrist. Because I believe the suspension is arbitrary and unfair, I have placed my tongue (kinda) firmly into my cheek and created a new FaceBook page, the stated intention of which is to Free Maria Soroski.
Maria doesn't much need my help here. She is free as a matter of course, and sometimes, she is even a bit of a loose cannon - as anyone who has gotten in her way can attest. It is a fact, though, that I am offended by this treatment of my respected and valued friend, and to that degree, my campaign is quite serious.
While I was playing around on Free Maria this morning, I discovered something very interesting. My good friends at FaceBook offered to advertise my new community page for me at the modest cost of fifty dollars a day. This has caused me to wonder if they expected Maria to pay the same to advertise the Kitty Walk on Sunday, but of course, I have a suspicious and cynical nature...
This then, is my call to arms, my cry for justice, petty and pitiful though the corporate offenders may be. Please visit my Free Maria Soroski page and click on the like button. Your support will be greatly appreciated.
Let's bend an elbow together.
Fiat justitia, ruat caelum
Lucius Calpernius Piso Caesoninus
(circa 43 BC)
Let justice be done, though the heavens fall
William Murray, First Earl of Mansfield
(Sommersett's Case, 1772)