25 November 2022

Anger Hath No Privilege

Once upon a time there was an old king named Lear who had three daughters: Goneril, Regan and Cordelia were their names, and because the old man felt his end approaching and wanted to enjoy in his remaining life span unburdened by worries about the future, he sent for his daughters and informed them that he intended to place the burden of the realm on their shoulders from now on. But before that, he did not fail to confront them with one of those double-bind questions with which he had been corrupting their tender souls since they were born: Tell me, my daughters, he asked them, – since now we will divest us both of rule, interest of territory, cares of state,  – which of you shall we say doth love us most?

Me! cried Goneril. No, me! cried Regan. Only Cordelia was silent, for she had been daddy’s favourite and thus not been quite so badly marred by his education as her sisters. But that didn’t help any of them in the end, for sooner or later their father’s wrath came upon them all. A hundred knights he wanted for himself, and none less! That’s what he wanted, because he was the king. Well, ex-king actually. But king nonetheless. What for? What an impertinent question! Allow not nature more than nature needs, he raged, man’s life’s as cheap as beast’s! But Dad, said the daughters, be reasonable for once, that just isn’t a sustainable way of dealing with the scarce resources left to us after your long and glorious reign. After all, they were in charge now, they bore all the responsibility for the future that was no longer his.

You see me here, you gods, screeched the old man, touch me with noble anger! And they did. Mad with rage, completely out of his mind, the king ran out onto the heath into the night and the storm, where the climate had already radically changed to the worse: Blow, winds, he screamed against the third once-in-a-century gale in this winter, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks! You sulphurous and thought-executing fires, vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts, singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder, smite flat the thick rotundity o‘ the world! Crack nature’s moulds, all germens spill at once, that make ingrateful man! Thus the story takes a maximally dreadful course from then on, and only after – all’s cheerless, dark, and deadly!  – all three daughters and a number of other characters are dead as doornails, this most horrid of fathers finally breathes his last as well.


Auch in diesem Jahr werden wieder Dissertationen mit gesellschaftlicher Relevanz gesucht: Promovierte aller Fachrichtungen, die ihre Dissertation 2022 mit magna oder summa cum laude abschließen, sind aufgerufen sich bis zum 01. März 2023 für den mit 25.000 Euro dotierten Deutschen Studienpreis der Körber-Stiftung zu bewerben.

Detaillierte Informationen zum Wettbewerb sowie den Teilnahmebedingungen finden Sie hier. 


Wrath is a hot emotion. It burns and blazes, exudes energy and power, scorches away all grief and remorse and what else you might feel bad about. It is directed outwards, away from yourself. You are not completely yourself while you feel it, you are like mad, not in control of your senses. As if you could not help it, as if it’s not even your fault. Right or wrong, our power shall do a courtesy to our wrath, which men may blame, but not control! Wrath keeps you in safe distance of all that nuisance, which can be a great temptation, even an addiction to feel this hot, throbbing feeling again and again, in these cold, cheerless, dark and deadly times.

On Twitter, wrath will now once more be all over the place after Elon Musk, citing the „vox populi“ of a completely grotesque online poll, decided to unleash the laboriously tamed cataracts and hurricanoes of disinformation and hate speech there again. Even before, this had been the dark side of the Twitter experience all along: to let yourself be triggered by the inanity and baseness inevitably encountered there, to jump into the fray, to pour out scorching hot sarcasm and innuendo on all this moronic sarcasm and innuendo from all these insufferable morons, to open the anger floodgate and feel that hot, throbbing feeling run through your arteries. The algorithm continually keeps providing you with opportunities for that, that’s what it’s trained to do, and so we, lime-green, anger-quivering mini-Hulks, all our angry energy unleashed, keep the flywheels of the social-media attention economy going. Now, with the return of all the suspended Twitter accounts, it’s all about to get even worse, possibly so much so that the whole machine will overheat, explode and burst into a thousand pieces, and I’m not at all sure whether I fear or hope for that.

Meanwhile, on the streets of Germany, the wrath at the climate activists glued to the tarmac and disrupting the traffic, continues to seek a valve. In the Free State of Bavaria, there is a norm in the Police Act that seems to lend itself in this regard: according to Art. 17 para. 1, 20 para. 2, the police can take people into custody for up to 30, maximum 60 days, if this is indispensable to avert a danger – either an imminent danger of a criminal offence (No. 2) or a non-imminent, but still concrete danger „for a significant legal interest“ (No. 3). Ralf Poscher and Maja Werner demonstrated this week on Verfassungsblog that this norm is not only highly questionable in terms of constitutional law, but is also entirely unsuitable as a legal basis for preventively putting climate activists in prison for weeks or months. For the time being, the Bavarian judiciary – ay, every inch a king: When I do stare, see how the subject quakes! – seems to see things differently, and by the time the Bavarian and Federal Constitutional Courts may have ruled on the matter, the people’s wrath likely will have dissipated again anyway.

So, right here in placid Germany, it is entirely possible that, if you have made a sufficient number of motorists sufficiently angry, you can be jailed for weeks on end. That can happen to you. That’s what the German Rechtsstaat apparently considers itself able to. Why, prithee, my lords and ladies, doesn’t that make us more angry?

The week on Verfassungsblog

… summarized by PAULINE SPATZ:

RALF POSCHER & MAJA WERNER examine whether the Bavarian detention as a last resort against activists of the „Last Generation“ is an illegal measure.

TILL ARNE STORZER puts the ECJ ruling in the case of Deutsche Umwelthilfe v. Federal Republic of Germany in context and explains why the ruling requires that the Environmental Remedies Act be amended so that legal action be secured through general clauses in the future.

As far as the voting age is concerned, Germany currently is a regulatory patchwork quilt. THORSTEN FAAS & ARNDT LEININGER use their own political science studies to argue why a uniform lowering of the voting age to 16 would be appropriate.

MARTIN MORLOK takes a closer look at all the failures listed by the Berlin Constitutional Court in its recent decision to have the state election in Berlin repeated, and is not overly convinced by the judges‘ reasoning.

The Berlin Judicial Service Court has rejected the Senator of Justice’s request to retire a judge and former member of the Bundestag for the AfD under section 31 of the German Judicial Service Act. ANDREAS FISCHER-LESCANO criticizes the decision.

ANNA-LENA HOLLO gives an overview of the first two main decisions of the Federal Administrative Court on Covid-19  measures from the early days of the pandemic.

Four federal states have abolished the isolation requirement for people infected with Covid. CLARA FOLGER & DANIEL WOLFF find that this is required by constitutional law.


Das Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht lädt in Kooperation mit der Württembergischen Landesbibliothek Stuttgart zu der Vortragsreihe „Ukraine?!- Völkerrecht am Ende?“ ein. Am 29.11.2022, 18h, widmet sich Florian Kriener der Frage „Sanktionen gegen Russland: Eine völkerrechtswidrige Intervention?“

Informationen zum Programm und zur Teilnahme in der WLB gibt es hier. 

Hier geht es zur Online-Teilnahme. 


DANIEL RIETIKER examines whether the ECtHR could play a role in the protection of the rights of the migrant workers (and their families) who have died in Qatar in connection with the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The European Commission released a proposal for the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) that aims at establishing a common framework for media services in the internal market. JOAN BARATA analyses the EMFA provisions that target online services.

ORAN DOYLE analyses the Costello v Ireland judgment, in which Ireland’s Supreme Court ruled that the ratification of CETA would breech Irish judicial sovereignty.

The UK Supreme Court has ruled that the Scottish Government does not have the power to hold another Independence Referendum without the consent of Westminster. STEFAN THEIL gives an overview of the legal questions of the ruling. SIMON JONES explains the background of the Scottish Government’s case.

The incoming Israeli coalition wants to introduce an override clause into the Israeli constitutional system, which would allow a parliamentary majority to disregard the constitutional Basic Laws. RIVKA WEILL explains what this clause is all about and why the argument that this has been common practice in Canada for decades, is misleading.

Elon Musk let Twitter users vote on whether to reactivate Donald Trump’s account. But platform democracy is not that simple, says MATTHIAS C. KETTEMANN and calls for more rational platform governance.

In his report of the conference „Artificial Intelligence – Challenges and Opportunities„, ROMAN LEHNER traces the debate on the distribution of responsibility between humans and AI.

In the second season of our RuleOfLaw podcast with Anwaltverein we focus on attacks on attorneys and their work in contexts of democratic backsliding. In the second episode, LENNART KOKOTT talks to DMITRI LAEVSKI about the rule of law and human rights in Belarus.

That’s all for now. All the best, and see you next week!

Max Steinbeis

SUGGESTED CITATION  Steinbeis, Maximilian: Anger Hath No Privilege, VerfBlog, 2022/11/25, https://verfassungsblog.de/anger-hath-no-privilege/, DOI: 10.17176/20221126-001600-0.

One Comment

  1. Weichtier Sa 26 Nov 2022 at 17:18 - Reply

    „The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.“
    Wikkiam Blake

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