Thursday, August 10, 2023

Unindicted Co-conspirators

            The term “unindicted co-conspirators” is in the news these days. No, it’s not the name of a rock band, though I think it would be a good one. In fact, our group may have considered it back in the 60s. My son, Phee, might think about changing his band’s name, though Access to Concrete is pretty strong. If you have been following our former president’s legal battles, you may have come across the term as applied to a small group of Trump’s advisors. The phrase has a great rhythm to it, doesn’t it? Say it aloud: Unindicted Co-conspirator. Note the trochaic flow, creating an aggressive feel: DUM – dah – DUM – dah – DUM – dah – DUM – dah – dah.


            I should note here that I’m not an attorney. In fact, I am probably less knowledgeable than most, because much of what I “know” isn’t quite true. But I won’t let that stop me from holding forth. What does the term “unindicted co-conspirators” mean? I may be oversimplifying, but I think it’s something like: on a shit list with your pals, but not yet busted. What’s cool about being on the list is that since you have not yet been charged with a crime, you may have a chance to turn against your “pals” with whom you have been conspiring. Would this make you less guilty?


            “Unindicted” means, to me, unindicted yet. It may come. And if you are unindicted, you don’t know yet what the charges will be. You may suspect what they will be as you do an inventory over possible offenses – bad stuff that may or may not be grounds for criminal charges. Some parents raise their children to feel this way – unindicted, yet: You know you have done something wrong, but we’re not saying what it is that you will be charged with. Sometimes a spouse can deliver the same kind of message. Sometimes a neighbor. So, there is this lingering guilty cloud. Reminds me, a bit, of Original Sin. Thanks, Adam . . ..


            With that in mind, let's soften the meaning of “indicted.” No, not necessarily in a court, by means of a grand jury. You can be indicted by an accusation by a parent, spouse or teacher, and this can lead to some form of “conviction,” right? Probably better to have a real trial, with rules, defense attorneys, and perhaps a jury of our “peers,” which suggests they are fellow co-conspirators, right?


            It’s a bit troubling, of course, to be a “co-conspirator.” I looked up “conspire,” and it always involves doing something bad, in secret, with others. So, if a group of people planned a surprise birthday party, it would not be a conspiracy unless the birthday boy or girl really hated surprise parties. But what, then, do we call such an operation, if not a conspiracy? I need help finding a word.


            One good thing about being a co-conspirator is that you are not alone. You are part of a team, and that brings a kind of pleasure. I suspect this pleasure diminishes when you start to turn on your co-conspirator colleagues. But still, for a while, it’s something.


            So, aren’t we all, in some ways, unindicted co-conspirators? We may not even know who our fellow co-conspirators are, but we are all up to something that’s maybe a bit bad, though not bad enough to be indicted – yet. 

1 comment:

  1. For “coconspirator” I like the synonyms:
    (And then I think of Tom Bodett asking “What’s another word for synonym?”_)