Cutting Through The Crap

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Season For All Men


I saw this snippet from "A Man For All Seasons" in a post by Andrew Sullivan. In a few well-written phrases, it explains the whole Gitmo issue:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

And there it is: the reason to follow the law even for our enemies is because those same laws apply to us (and what's so ironic is that it's conservatives, one would think, who so distrust government, who'd be the first to want to restrain the executive). Anyone who thinks there aren't more Cheneys and Bushes and Roves and Gonzales' and Feiths out there is smoking some bad sh*t. You could be next; I could be next; any of us could be next.

Probably me, though, if anyone is reading this blog.

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2 comments:

Ellen Kimball said...

Ah, Sid, I don't think they will come for you, but it's easy to be quite paranoid, especially when you are writing freely as we do.

That photo brings back so many theater memories. Paul Scofield and Leo McKern in the classic film from 1966. It won six Oscars. Scofield passed on at age 86 last year. What a talent!

It is generally realized that when a government establishes rules or laws or regulations that at given point in time seem to favor a certain group, they have to be careful. Those actions can come back and bite in ways that can't be anticipated. Even if you take someone who has committed a heinous act (the reference to the Devil) and you allow that individual to take advantage of the laws that are in place, would you strike down those laws to punish that individual? Those laws are meant to protect everyone.

On talk radio, we used to debate the death penalty, which is of course disallowed in several states. This costs the state money for feeding and housing a convicted killer possibly for decades... a lifetime. Is it better that the person who is judged a killer should be put to death? People who say "no" will argue that doing away with the death penalty protects those people who may be incarcerated and who also may be innocent. If you save ONE PERSON, then it may be worthwhile to abandon state killings.

"Outlawed" is a fascinating documentary movie and I'm glad Andrew Sullivan linked to it. It's been around for us movie reviewers on DVD. Chilling...

EK

Sili said...

"This costs the state money for feeding and housing a convicted killer possibly for decades... a lifetime. Is it better that the person who is judged a killer should be put to death? People who say "no" will argue that doing away with the death penalty protects those people who may be incarcerated and who also may be innocent. If you save ONE PERSON, then it may be worthwhile to abandon state killings."

That is not much different, though, from what happens to those convicted. Is it not "cruel and unsual" to keep them incarserated for decades - never knowing if their appeal will pass - if the govenor will call at the last moment? And that ignores the added cost from the extra trials and so on and so forth.

Not to mention that big Christian virtue: Redemption. People change. Some don't of course, but plenty of (poor, black) people have done so while on death row.

But of course I'm one of those strange people who'd rather see ten murderers go free than one innocent killed in the name of Justice.