Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Benefit of law

The very excellent Bystander has just posted an entry on his blog including the following superb quote from one of my very favourite films, A Man For All Seasons:
Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
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's 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 - d'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.
It's part of an interchange between Thomas More and his idealistic hothead son-in-law William Roper, at a time when More is in increasing danger because of his refusal to consent to the divorce of Henry VIII from Katharine of Aragon and remarriage to Anne Boleyn.

Bystander quotes it in the context of lawyers being attacked for doing their job by defending unpopular clients. But it also occurs to me it's equally applicable to those who believe that we don't need human rights, and would like to sweep away all the legislation that protects us from abuse by governments and others.

As someone else has so rightly said,
if you don't believe in human rights, please indicate which of these you want to give up.

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