The h2g2 Post 20.04.06

3 Conversations

Posted: 20th April 2006



The 'Law'

You know, The Law is a funny thing. I use capitals in that context because 'The Law' is seen as this ephemeral identity, almost a deity that people can call upon whenever they're in need. Person A misbehaves or annoys Person B or does something that's seen as incorrect in Person B's society and then Person B says, 'The Law says that you are guilty' or something like that.

But the question that I pose to you, dear reader, is, just because The Law says this or that, does that make it inviolate? We may apply this conundrum to our recent hulabaloo concerning the new profanity filter. The Law — in this case, the profanity filter — says that a certain word is not permissible on h2g2, or indeed on any of the DNA sites. But because the profanity filter, the mods, whoever, say so, does that mean it's the end of the matter? Some would say so, and have. But can't the law be conditional? Some of us would like to have the filter relaxed for artistic purposes, or in certain situations when what the filter thinks is profanity is really quite innocuous.

But does the real world ever work like that? Take a quick look at the justice system in your country, whatever your country. I'm from the US, but I think that you'll find that, wherever you are, there are laws. These laws say what you can and cannot do. And when you break the laws, you are punished. The police aren't likely to care if your mother is deathly ill and you're rushing to be at her side — they will give you a ticket for speeding nevertheless. Contingency and condition are not things that The Law is terribly good at. But then again, what would be better? A totalitarian state, or one with no laws at all? We need The Law for some things, but I think we'll all find times when it seems so [insert expletive] unnecessary.

And without further ado, now for something completely different: this week's edition of The Post.



















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