SPOILER ALERT. I was watching CSI: Las Vegas with my wife and teenager last night, the 4/2 episode “Sheltered.” (For the record, I’m not a super-fan. I had to look that up.) The first act suspect is a a bomb-shelter-living character subjected to a sketchy search by the CSI team. His attorney has all the evidence against him deemed inadmissible. I said, “I think they’re jumping to conclusions about this guy.” My wife says, “Of course the Democrat over here thinks the cops are at fault.”*
She was just messing around, but she started a conversation about the law and the degree to which different people value the need to insure that the rights of every man are protected. My wife is comfortable with collateral damage – a few innocent people getting pinched and some rights getting trampled to get more criminals behind bars. I’m much better with a few criminals getting away if it means that we can be sure nobody’s rights are disregarded.
Both my wife and my daughter said that they could never represent a guilty man in court. I, on the other hand, said that I could do it and sleep like a baby (especially if I could do so on the grounds of illegal search and seizure).
As the story unfolded, my prediction turned out to be right. It turned out that the man and his daughter were the victims of a violent crime who retreated from the world in an underground bunker to stay safe. At the end of the episode they decide to leave the shelter and move to a small town in Oregon to start a new life in the larger world. It was a great metaphor and a good story (good job Michael FX Daley).
One cannot live in fear and isolation. Fear is the twisting and perverting fire that heats the shield so that it can be all too easily pounded into a sword. The entire purpose of Law should be to defend and protect. Not just from criminals, but from police, judges, prejudice, and general unfairness.
*My wife as much interest in politics as I have in fashion. Her political sorter has three bins: Democrat, Republican, and Communist. I don’t know what I am, but it ain’t one of those three. If the Libertarians and the Green Party had babies I might be one of those.