The rule of law
So, I was watching a TV programme called “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.” It’s a show about a bunch of immoral people who spend half the show victimizing innocent people and then the latter half victimizing the suspected culprit with the help of a judgmental salesman or saleswoman. Don’t worry about labels like “cop” or “lawyer” or “criminal”. They just mask the immorality of the whole programme. I won’t say why I watched it but I did.
But there was something that the saleswoman said which has been bouncing in my head ever since. She said “no one is above the law.” That stuck with me.
Now some may think it obvious that that would stay with me. I’m a Dinim addict. I crave justice and fairness. I want to know the details of that law not just for courts but for fairness in all human interactions. But my love of Dinim isn’t what caused this statement to bounce around my head for a time.
You see, Law and Order is not a God-fearing show. It is quite “anti-” with it comes to the God stuff. And with that in mind, when someone says “no one is above the law,” I think to myself, what is “law,” especially in that worldview? Ever since I encountered a man called Marc Stevens and his writings, I’ve been focused one removing fluff and decoration from what people say and getting to the facts. He, seemingly an anarchist and an atheist, showed me that it’s important to distinguish between fact and opinion.
So in that light, when the godless say “no one is above the law” what is “the law”?
As far as I can tell, it’s someone’s opinion that is used to control others. Most of the countries I know of do not recognise divine law, so that means the only source and authority of their law is human; someone made a decision or a group of people made a decision and that was deemed authoritative by someone or a group of people. What else is country law other than that?
So based on this, what is “the rule of law”? It seems to mean that someone’s opinion is authoritative. But then, why can’t another person’s opinion be better? Based on this, what does it mean when someone says “no one is above the law”? That just means that “no one is above that person’s opinion,” nothing more unless you want to add the faith statement that somehow that person’s opinion somehow becomes the authority that all must follow.
I hear the statement that countries are ruled by laws and not by people and I again I wonder to myself what this really means. But thinking about it, what sense does that make? Some say that this means that the ruling class and judges can’t apply arbitrary judgements on people, that even the authorities are governed by principles that call for a standard process based on clearly established principles. But who do you think interprets and applies these laws, except those very same judges, that same ruling class? So if people control how a law is interpreted and applied, then it isn’t a law that rules but rather it is those people who are given the office of interpreting and applying law.
So firstly, in the countries that have forsaken God and His commandments for the most – France, UK, USA, so many others – they have laws, these principles that are normally just someone’s opinion that is believed to be authoritative. From this they conceive this “rule of law” which is just the supremacy of someone’s opinion and faith in those who interpret and apply those opinions in a systematic fashion. Understand that this doesn’t imply fairness or righteousness. I’ve personally experienced people who claim to only be going according to some statute in order to rob me. They’ll claim to only be following the law and it was still essentially them saying “give me your money or else I’ll force it out of you.” They had the bare-faced gall to say that what they had done to me was fair and done without discrimination, yet still had all the hallmarks of threats, coercion and robbery. A friend of mine is facing bankruptcy because of the moral bankruptcy of the judges which that friend had to face, and those judges could be said to have just been following the law. Injustice can have a lovely time flourishing when things are done systematically. It is not simply “law” (i.e., someone’s opinion deemed to be authoritative) that makes for justice and fairness.
The problem is that bereft of some objective standard, some true standard of morality, this notion of “rule of law” and “no one is above the law” and being ruled by opinions of people (called “laws”) as opposed to people, all of this makes out “law” to be something true, objective and moral when it is not. It is political. What do I mean by that vacuous term “political”? It’s about government control. And when you take these opinions of a bunch of men and women that want to dominate you (let’s not pretend that they are moral creatures) and create this transcendent being called “law” as if it has somehow cut its ties off from the humans that created it and is now this “objective truth,” … wow, have I just described the essence of an idol?
Look, there’s nothing objectively true about human law in and of itself. It cannot be. But people conflate the necessity of people interacting in as peaceful and moral a way as possible with “law,” with the dictates of whomever, some stranger(s) who decided to control others for whatever purpose. And the way laws are applied these days, there is a distinct difference between what is legal and what is moral. In fact many times in history, and even today, even in the so called “free lands”, there are laws that do not protect individual or property but just give government agents the means to threaten people for money or to capture them or their property. The asset forfeiture laws and traffic laws of some countries are prime examples, like in America where government officials can take your money if there is too much of it in your car, or take your property if they think it’s linked to drugs, even if there is insufficient evidence to convict the actual individual. How’s that for the rule of law?
To just summarize my thoughts for now: without God’s law, the rule of law has no positive value in and of itself. To claim that that a government or a people is ruled by laws when it is in fact those that administer and interpret and apply the law who are the real rulers. Laws are dead things. It’s the hands of a person that makes them have any reality. Some laws are so heinous and wrong that it is necessary for people to be “above the law”.
I haven’t gone into the notion of “taking the law into one’s own hands”. But right now, these are just some of my scattered thoughts. No idea what they’ll develop into.