Socrates Narrowly Acquitted at Retrial 2,400 Years after His Execution

The Greek philosopher Socrates was accused of irreverence to the gods and corrupting the young people of Athens. For this, he was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. Socrates drank a cup of hemlock and died.

This, it has seemed to some observers of history, was a bum rap. So a panel of legal experts in Athens retried him. Their votes tied 5 to 5, thus narrowly securing an acquittal:

"Socrates comes before us feigning humility, yet demonstrating arrogance," said Loretta Preska, a New York district judge who presided at Friday's trial and voted to convict him.

"He is a dangerous subversive."

Pleading earlier in Socrates' defence, prominent French lawyer Patrick Simon said: "An opinion is not a crime. Socrates was searching for the truth.

He added: "My client has one fault: he likes to poke fun and is fiercely ironic. By acquitting him, you will show how solid and reliable democracy is."

Versed in Socratic literature, the legal brains came from Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Switzerland and the United States.

"In order not to complicate this trial unnecessarily, penalty will not be decided," Preska said.

That was probably a prudent decision.

Link -via Blame It on the Voices | Photo: surfstyle

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The new trial against Socrates was presided by a judge appointed by President George W. Bush and who recently gave churches in New York permission to rent public spaces in public schools, typical of Republican disdain for separation of church and state. Poor Socrates.
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This is really nonsense though, because if Socrates was alive today he'd be denouncing the vast majority of our laws, customs and mores. He'd be dead against much of what we do and would be accused of being subversive, unpatriotic, even treasonous. And someone would probably kill him all over again. The moral of the story of the death of socrates is that people get offended at the suggestion that their deeply cherished beliefs are wrong, and they react with threats and violence (if they can't shut you up some other way). Take for example the recent smearing of MSNBC's Chris Hayes
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