When one speaks of crime and punishment within the micronational community, this Author is often reminded of that famous Apollo Skyline cartoon from the September 28, 2002, edition (pictured below). The subject of that mocking depiction of micronational justice was Fidel Nico of the long-former Micras micronation of Baracão, who had, in the “in-situ” reality of the community, fled persecution in Babkha and gained asylum in Baracão, only to be extradited back to Babkha to his certain execution. All while sitting comfortably, and quite lively, in his chair at the computer in his macronational abode. What a show it must have been to witness one’s own execution at the hands of the gruesomely violent Babkhan “justice” system.
The Skyline chose to mock an example that was ripe for the picking, some may argue – obviously a micronation can’t really “execute” a person as a true punishment for his or her transgressions against its laws. Such an act is merely the grandest statement of official contempt.
Then again, how effectual is any punishment imposed by the micronational courts? Even banishment from a micronation is ineffectual, insofar as the convicted micronationalist will always be able to find another micronation wanting of new citizens to accept his or her involvement, despite past transgressions (most of which are arguably conflicts of personality rather than reasonable law). The imposition of fines, too, are fraught with enforcement difficulty, as micronational currency is valueless, and any collection of macronational monies is an ultimately hopeless endeavour.
Perhaps it is our desire, as victims – perceived or real – to have justice done that still sees the micronational community engage in the prosecution, or sometimes persecution, of disagreeable individuals in our midst. Perhaps it is simply that the micronational arena is the best hope some have to see justice done, for lack of the financial resources to pursue the Accused macronationally, or simply because the wrong that has been committed is not one likely to be prosecuted – or understood – outside micronationalism. Maybe it is the convergence of the underpinning interest in law and experimentation on which micronationalism is built and the happen-chance transgression that motivates a desire to see the laws and courts we create in action, with the imposition of a punishment merely a sideshow. Or maybe, especially in the case of character-based Simulationist micronations such as those that inhabit the Bastion Union on Micras, it is just a captivating way to write one’s current persona out of the wider narrative.
Regardless of the motivation for seeking out punishment for transgressions in our community, it is nonetheless a reality of it, as it has been since the popularization of micronationalism by the Internet at the turn of the millennium. While each and every micronationalist who has been convicted in a micronational court remains very much alive and with their personal wealth intact, their cases have nonetheless formed an important part of the history and development of the particular micronation, and indeed the wider community, at the time.
This historical significance is one that admittedly should not be diminished by the ultimate futility of micronational justice as so accurately conveyed by the Apollo Skyline, for those contemporary micronationalists involved in each case were truly vested in the matter. After all, many of them used that sandbox to help develop the legal skills and interests that have propelled them, in this Author’s recollection, into the law firms of Belgium, Britain, Canada, and the United States. And that is perhaps the one tangible benefit of micronational justice, much like that of all aspects of micronationalism – it helps us learn skills, explore interests, and develop as individuals and macronational professionals.
Maybe that’s where we need to keep our focus when it comes to micronational justice – that it is a developmental endeavour, rather than one that is meant to be punitive. Cases should not be brought for malice, as alienating any member of an already dwindling populace is ultimately more harmful to the micronation than any crime most are capable of perpetuating. Rather, turn the Courts to administrative matters, such as dissolution proceedings for locally insolvent companies or judicial review. In such proceedings, micronationalists can learn and explore the law, and thereby grow individually, as opposed to needlessly carrying on momentary vendettas caused by frustration and the pouring salt on open wounds by imposing flagrantly unenforceable punishments.