Godzilla vs. Megalon

September 30, 2019 at 2:29 pm (By Amba, Uncategorized) ()

In The Law, human beings attempted to create an authority that would transcend their own best efforts to besmirch, evade, manipulate, and abuse it. A North Star of dispassionate justice that would shine far above the nonstop mud wrestling of human affairs.

In practice, of course, the law, a human product, has often been used as the protector of privilege or the refuge of scoundrels. But it is a work in progress, and over time it’s been hewn and refined and fought over toward something that begins to vaguely resemble the ideal of objectivity—to extend its protection to the powerless and its demand for accountability to the powerful, “without fear or favor.”

Those words, as you’ll see if you follow the link, arose in the context of journalism, which has now largely made a travesty of them. Only The Law is left.

(Digression: it’s interesting that the English, who tore through this globe creating, exploiting, and destroying with their mind-boggling drive to industrialize, capitalize, and colonize—a truth brought home to me by copyediting this forthcoming book—also created much of what we now know as The Law, and slowly, from Magna Carta to the reformers of the 19th century, broadened its protection, imperfectly, from the rights of property to the rights of the naked person.)

Here, you hear the authority and dignity of The Law awakening, shaking its wings, clearing its throat—not a moment too soon. Things have finally gone too far, rousing it from its “stony sleep,”  like the more-than-equal and opposite monster to Yeats’s in “The Second Coming“:

somewhere in sands of the desert   
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. 

In The Law, we finally have a Godzilla to fight the Megalon of chaos.

Or, in a more mundane image, the parents burst through the door just as the kids who’ve been gleefully trashing the house are about to burn it down.

But The Law is no human parent. It’s our own imagining of a power authoritative and impartial enough to stop us from destroying each other and ourselves.

 

3 Comments

  1. Melinda Bruno said,

    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!

  2. amba12 said,

    WOW. Thank you!!!

  3. Timothy Burnett said,

    WOW, indeed.

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