Questions about Ankh-Morpork law

  1. Just what laws are enforced in Ankh-Morpork? I can’t imagine murder is legal, but how does that effect the Assassin’s Guild? My guess would be murder is illegal if you’re clumsy and stupid enough to get caught, but the Assassin’s Guild as an institution is not proscribed. The Thieves Guild sells passes that exempt pedestrians from street muggings for a certain period of time, but presumably theft overall is still a crime. Is assault a crime or are victims on their own?

  2. In the novel THUD! controversy arose over whose laws apply to the newly established Dwarf Underground under Ankh-Morpork. Was this ever resolved? Does Ankh-Morpork law rule down to the elephants’ backs, does the newly established Underground have autonomy, or some compromise?

Every law is enforced in Ankh-Morpokh… to the extent that the Patrician or somebody with swords wants it. Technically, murder is illegal. But so what? Never stopped anyone before. Assassinations aren’t illegal, though. After all, that’s business, it is.

Thieving isn’t a crime - only unlicensed thieving. And the Thieves Guild is in charge of enforcing that regulation, and do a much better job of it than the Watch. Pterry hasn’t addressed much “regular” crime in the works. Figures, as most regular crime is boring and inconsequential except to those involved. For the most part, though, I gather that people enforce the “rules of society” themselves. That’s why there are gangs in the Shades, for example, and guilds and such. Especially the Guild of Assassins. The ultimate answer to continued “injustice.”

Any unorganized/disorganized crime is illegal.

Therefore, an assassin taking a contract to kill someone is legal.

A licensed thief stealing from someone who hasn’t already paid up is legal.

Beating someone to death with a poker, unless it’s self defense (no matter what he said about Our Neville) is not legal.

Axing someone’s head off because they asked for a ‘short’ in a dwarf bar is not technically legal either, but it’s treated differently – at least in the first part of the series. I imagine Cmdr Vimes takes a dim view of this.

Considering the events at the end of Thud! I doubt that the under-city is going to be a no-go area for the Patrician and similar. Especially considering that I suspect he’s going to be implementing something interesting with alllllllll those tunnels that have already been built. The dwarves have a powerful lobby, but it’s been weakened severely with recent events.

Unless I’m mistaken this would actually be classified as suicide by Ankh-Morpork law, and therefore of no interest to the Watch.

I’m predicting the start of the Ankh-Morpork Underground. Mornington Crescent station, next stop!

Being a Mime. You are hung upsidedown in the scorpion pit with a card that sez “Learn the Words”. This is a law that I’d love to see IRL. :smiley:

In one case a man who walked into The Broken Drum and referred to himself as “Invincible” was determined to have committed suicide.

Ankh-Morpork is not governed so much by law as by policy – specifically, Lord Vetinari’s policy. In that sense he is indeed a tyrant (in the original, non-pejorative sense of the word), as he more or less acknowledged at the end of Going Postal. Of course, Vetinari truly loves his city and works for its welfare, and there is no hard guarantee his successor would be of his caliber. What remains to be seen is what plans he will make for what will happen after he, inevitably and in the fullness of time, passes from the scene. Vetinari is definitely not an aprez moi, le deluge kind of guy; OTOH, he does not appear to be clearly committed to, nor even to understand, the concept of the rule of law as something above even the executive authorities of the state. That is possibly the only thing relevant to politics/government that Vetinari does not understand.

I predict some constitutional role for Captain Carrot, but its exact nature remains to be determined.

Ankh-Morpork law is not enforced, as a rule. The organization that is supposed to enforce it is the City Watch, and, until really recently, at least, the Watch has been corrupt and ineffectual. This is starting to change under the leadership of Commander Vimes.

What Pattrician Veternari did was, knowing that there was no way to stop the crime in Ankh-Morpork, he organized it. He gave the Thieves’ Guild a monopoly on theft, for instance, and he coopted the guild leaders, making them important people in the city’s functioning. So now, crime in the city is self-policing. The criminal guilds make sure that no one other than they can break the law, and the Thieves’ Guild no longer sees any reason to commit theft themselves, having discovered that extortion is easier.

Ankh-Morpork has a one man–one vote system, remember? Vetinari is the Man, and he has the Vote. Therefore, what is illegal in Ankh-Morpork is whatever he decides he wants stopped.

Don’t let me detain you.

And then there’s the curious relationship between the City and the University, which seems to be technically subject to the laws of the City, as long as the City doesn’t actually enforce them.

If I were to set up a stand on my street corner with a plank and a couple barrels and sell whiskey by the glass, that would be illegal.

If I were to obtain a license from the state and sell whiskey in a bar, while following the regulations set forth, that would be legal.

Murdery and thievery in Ankh-Morpok are merely extensions of that concept.

But it is legal, sorta, to put a tray around your neck and sell sausages inna bun. With mustard. Lots and lots of mustard.

Technically, I guess…

I’m sure they’ve seen a pig somewhere along the line.

Might’ve heard a muffled oink while passing a stockyard in the night, perhaps…

Or while passing Harga’s “All-You-Can-Gobble-For-A-Dollar” Special sometime after midnight.

See, that’s why the dwarves are strictly “rat-onna-stick” types. You know what you’re gettin’ wi’a “rat-onna-stick”. Tha’s 100% pure rat.

Unless, of course, some devilish type were to carve rat-shaped pieces out of beef or lamb.