Springingtiger's Blog

Law Before Order


I enjoy the occasional television drama. One favourite is ‘Person Of Interest’. However watching it today I found myself reflecting on how we are being fed a constant stream of dramas designed to undermine the moral values of society. In many of these stories the heroes are vigilantes like Arrow or the ‘man in the suit’ taking the law into their own hands because of failures in the justice system or deliberate perversions of justice.

Worse than the vigilante is the almost casual acceptance that law enforcers will bend the rules to ‘maintain order’, ‘keep America safe’, ‘wage war on terrorism’. We are fed a constant stream of tales where justice is only served because intrepid law officers spied on personal communications, provoked dissidents into terrorist actions for which they could actually be arrested. We are constantly told by our heroes on television and film that we need the eye in the sky, the CCTV, the phone tap, the DNA library, the electronic ID card. And when our politicians try to impose these things upon us we are told, “If you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear!” If that were true then why are ‘Black Lives Matter’ protesting? Why are journalists being locked up without trial in Turkey?

We cannot be complacent it is in the West that our favourite shows are set. It is we who are being told day in and day out that the price of our safety is the loss of our freedom. That sometimes an innocent man may be shot in the Underground and that’s unfortunate, but worth it if we are to be safe. How do we address these mistakes? More surveillance, more surveillance and less oversight of those who are watching us. We are being told that public order is more important than natural justice. That democracy is too important to be entrusted to the voters.

You may not believe me but just look at the efforts of the establishment to deny democratic freedoms. A Labour Party establishment that wants to deny its members the right to choose their leader, their representatives even the issues on which they will campaign; the other parties are no better. A press that denies coverage or a voice to all whose opinions and beliefs run counter to those who own the levers of power. Effectively the establishment compels direct action by those who wish their voices to be heard and then quashes them in the name of public order. When the limits on freedom are increasingly restricted it is inevitable that decent people will have to fall foul of the law sometimes. Sometimes people have to choose to break the law to protest injustice, there is an ethical argument for doing so.

What is not acceptable, but what our television dramas are telling us is not only acceptable, but necessary is for those charged with upholding the law to bend and break the rules to preserve order. When order is preserved at the expense of the law, when already draconian laws are bent by the establishment we do not have rule of law, we have dictatorship. Dictatorship, not by one person, but a class, but dictatorship none the less.


1 Comment so far
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Precisely so are we being programmed by the popular programs.

Comment by Robert Frost

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