7.25.2004

when the last law is down

I'm finally reading The Power Broker, Robert Caro's masterpiece about Robert Moses and New York City. It's been on my to-read list forever, and it seemed like a good thing to tackle while I still live here.

Reading it on the subway this morning, I came across a passage that is perfectly applicable to our present times - so much so, that I'm surprised I haven't seen it before from the ACLU or a Constitution-loving writer. (Of course it may have been used many times, I just never came across it.)

Caro refers to Robert Bolt's play A Man For All Seasons:
In A Man For All Seasons, Sir Thomas More warns young Roper about the consequences of letting ends justify means. When the young man says he would "cut down every law in England" to "get after the Devil," More replies: "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?"
That says it all, doesn't it? Without our rights to free speech, free assembly, privacy and due process, there would be no place to hide. And the Devil may not have an Arabic last name.

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