Guest post: Send them back to their crappy reality television show

Originally a comment by AJ Milne on An independent judiciary.

That custom thing, I think that’s just everywhere with established norms. As democracies age, they work out what works, spot the boundaries they know they can’t cross. It doesn’t always get written down, exactly, or not in the law.

And that’s why there has to be a heavy political price for going anywhere near them. People who try to game the system, effectively, by arguing, well, technically you never said! Even if it’s like playing chess and suddenly saying I’m gonna colour your queen black and call it mine… Because nothing technically said I couldn’t.

I worry that this is in part the price of people being (I think, frequently, deliberately and manipulatively) made alienated from the process, made especially cynical about it, convinced it’s all just a shoddy, shameful game, so play to win, and anything’s fair. Nations and communities also stand on their common, understood, frequently unspoken values, things you don’t do, things that will absolutely get you struck off the dinner invitation list…

And absolutely, you can bet any number of his loud, braying thugs on the net are now going to be loudly bleating ‘but you never said’, and screaming holy hell if any other government body tries, as is only their damned responsibility in a system of checks and balances, to check their chosen tyrant. Oh, and see also the usual ‘but it’s a crisis, to hell with tradition, he needs extraordinary powers’ gambit, and never mind that, dramatic and arresting as the terror events he’s using as a pretext are (and are meant to be, and note the usual convenient synergy between strongman one and violent extremist authoritarian two, as both will attempt to drive you to accept their rule through fear), they’re still about as much a statistical menace to anyone specifically in the mainland US as is being hit by lightning.

This is the absurdity that remains for me, here. I appreciate people get scared; isn’t like I’ve never felt that; I lived near enough to the plane that hit the Pentagon, once upon a time, and these things are designed to be visceral, terrifying, heart-wrenching and generating much alarm, between your sympathy for the suffering and fear that next it may be you or one of your own. But remember: it’s still fear they’re using, and a fear you need to manage accordingly, deal with sensibly, and, to my mind, whose very crude purpose you should deliberately try to frustrate, as well as you can by saying ‘fuck that, you ain’t scaring me into anything rash’. And also, really, a rather innumerate fear, at the end of the day, so many places. A bit like selling your house to buy lottery tickets, this, in terms of what you give up for the still faint odds being addressed, here. Let’s trash our entire international reputation and, effectively, let ourselves be broken by this fear they continually try to make the only thing worth considering here, and never mind the groups that do only use these sensational events because that’s all they can do, really, lacking the means to pose an actual, meaningful military danger…

All of which argues, back: go with proportional, measured responses, things you can afford, things that don’t splash ruin on everyone within miles, things that don’t break what you’re trying to protect in the first place. And when you catch someone grandstanding, playing this card for power, send them back to their crappy reality television show with a boot up their ass.

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