I was just following a news report about some of the more ridiculous messages that went out on Twitter at the time of the January 6 riots when I saw one by a Republican congressman from South Carolina named Ralph Norman hysterically calling for Donald Trump to invoke “Marshall Law.”
I don’t want to play gotcha! with someone’s spelling on Twitter, but I was a little surprised that the commentator I was listening to admitted that they had to check to make sure “Marshall Law” was, in fact, wrong. Though I suppose it is an easy enough mistake to make. Just last month I reviewed Caroline Moorehead’s Mussolini’s Daughter, where the Badoglio government that came in after ousting Mussolini is said to have proclaimed “marshal law.” Even I had to wonder if this was a slip or intentional. Technically, Badoglio had held the rank of marshal in the Italian army before becoming prime minister. So did Moorehead make a mistake, or was saying marshal law a joke? I’m still not sure, but I think it was a slip that the editors didn’t catch.
There was also a comic book character named Marshal Law, created in the 1980s by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill. I don’t know if it’s still going. And in 1996 there was a TV movie called Marshal Law about a tough U.S. Marshal played by Jimmy Smits. This kind of thing probably confuses people.
Just to be clear though: it’s martial law.