Sunday 16 December 2018
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.theguardian - 10 days ago

‘Contempt’ of parliament: aren t we all guilty of that?

The government was found in contempt of parliament over Brexit this week. So why did our legal lexicon adopt that word?This week, the government was found to be in contempt of parliament for not releasing the full legal advice on Brexit. But why exactly is it “contempt” rather than scorn, ridicule, or contumely?The Latin contemnere, to condemn, derives ultimately from the Greek for “to cut”. The metaphor of negative judgments as cutting emotions, then, goes back all the way. From the early 17th century, the specifically legal use of “contempt” – as in contempt of parliament and contempt of court – has denoted flagrant disobedience or disrespect to the institutions of authority. (In 1722, according to an OED citation, it was possible to be convicted of contempt by not removing one’s hat in front of the magistrates.) Continue reading...

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