In Dvenadsat (12), this juror is almost the last holdout to insist that the Chechen kid is guilty. He sarcastically criticizes the previous juror’s emotional personal story, saying, “Uncle Vasya the city prosecutor turns a blind eye. And the criminal remains at large! And meanwhile the entire civilized world has lived for centuries according to the law.”
The juror who responds to that is a cemetery director who in the movie has several things to say about the rule of law. This time he says, “A Russian man will never live by the law.”
“The law bores him. The law is dead. There’s nothing personal about it. And a Russian man without that personal touch is an empty shell.”
He makes it sound as though it’s a peculiarly Russian issue. I, on the other hand, would argue that the tension between the “law” and the “personal” is not at all just a Russian issue. It’s a tension to be found in every society where you have a system of laws.
But before getting into all that, I was going to make a snarky comment about “Russian exceptionalism.” In our country there has been an occasional debate about American Exceptionalism. But I was going to use this scene as an example to point out that there is nothing exceptional about American Exceptionalism. There is also such a thing as Russian Exceptionalism.
I thought I was being clever, but a quick google search shows me that I am far from the first person to use the term “Russian Exceptionalism.”