10 Jul 2010

Crying wolf

Subhas Panday wants to introduce some draconian measures to fight crime. The public demands it, the public expects it.

The only problem with this is that the public also expects that the legislation will ONLY apply to bandits, gun wielders, and badjohns…

No one supporting these measures think far enough ahead that the erosion of human rights for SOME really means an erosion of human rights for ALL. I have said before, the price of deteriorating rights is ETERNAL VIGILANCE. I’m already worried.

But it is the first steps which have to be watched. The first incursion by the executive into impropriety. The first compromise by the judiciary with principle. We are all familiar with the employee who steals from his employer. The most difficult time is the first time the hand goes into the till. After that, each successive time is less difficult. The problem with the phrase “eternal vigilance” is that it appears to focus on the long term. But the focus is the immediate, today,  every day. The insidious dangers are no less threatening than the obvious ones, and for the judiciary to acquiesce in the first small, even tiny, steps, may ultimately be terminal.

That these ‘laws’ are meant to target criminals make them no less effective against people with whom the politicians may have grievances. Nor does it mean that criminal targets will ONLY be the ones affected.

Sometimes, before crying wolf, the people should look first for the teeth.