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   Chapter 3 No.3

The Parenticide Club By Ambrose Bierce Characters: 1931

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

A law under which the unsuccessful respondent in a divorce proceeding may be forbidden to marry again during the life of the successful complainant, the latter being subject to no such disability, is infamous infinitely. If the disability is intended as a punishment it is exceptional among legal punishments in that it is inflicted without conviction, trial or arraignment, the divorce proceedings being quite another and different matter. It is exceptional in that the period of its continuance, and therefore the degree of its severity, are indeterminate; they are dependent on no limiting statute, and on neither the will of the power inflicting nor the conduct of the person suffering.

To sentence a person to a punishment that is to be mild or severe according to chance or-which is even worse-circumstance, which but one person, and that person not officially connected with administration of justice, can but partly control, is a monstrous perversion of t

he main principles that are supposed to underlie the laws.

In "the case at bar" it can be nothing to the woman-possibly herself remarried-whether the man remarries or not; that is, can affect only her feelings, and only such of them as are least creditable to her. Yet her self-interest is enlisted against him to do him incessant disservice. By merely caring for her health she increases the sharpness of his punishment-for punishment it is if he feels it such; every hour that she wrests from death is added to his "term." The expediency of preventing a man from marrying, without having the power to prevent him from making his marriage desirable in the interest of the public and vital to that of some woman, is not discussable here. If a man is ever justified in poisoning a woman who is no longer his wife it is when, by way of making him miserable, the State has given him, or he supposes it to have given him, a direct and distinct interest in her death.

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