King John and all that – fighting for habeas corpus

The Economist’s penultimate paper on civil liberties discusses detention without trial.

When I heard the history of King John of England playing fast and loose with people and how his own barons and courtiers had to rein him in and force him to contract to behave ethically (Magna Carta 1215), it was one of those stories that drew a line between us and them: We know how to behave, they didn’t; modern society is civil, theirs was brutal; we have the resources, technology and emotional intelligence to raise the less well off, while they just stomped on them on the way to the banquet.  It is painful to realise that there are places in the world where “King John” still gets away with it.  It is excruciating to know that it’s not that far from home … King George or should we say Prince Dick.

The Economist outlines the battle that judiciary and legislatures are fighting to rein in executive power.  As they say it is The Stuff of Nightmares.  There have been some successes, but it is frightening that this battle should continue today.  We must grow up.  Reinstate habeas corpus in America.  Stop driving a wedge between administration and people.  Let the police and military be on the same side as everyone else.  Let empathy back into justice.


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