The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Scale of Justcie

Where Do We Draw the Line

Throughout Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, I found myself torn as to who I should support. Several times I found myself questioning what I believed and what I would do. In chapter 13, however, I had no trouble siding with Marcus during his discussion in class about suspension of constitutional rights.

Scale of Justcie

When Mrs. Anderson brought up the hypothetical situation where a police officer went beyond what his search warrant allowed for, and found indisputable evidence to prove the person is guilty. This is a classic question of whether the law or justice is more important. She asks, "Should the bad guy go free?" Should he? No, but he must.

In the same way that the Miranda Rights prevent police from using evidence gained without the other party knowing his or her rights, a police officer cannot use evidence gained in an illegal search. No one would ever tell you that he deserves to go free, but because of how our system works, that is the way it must be. The day we start bending the rules is the day we can no longer trust the rules to be on our side.

The fact is that without rules we are a bunch of uncontrollable creatures who act selfishly whenever possible. Either we have rules or we do not, there is no in between. If rules are not absolute, then there is no way to enforce them with a straight face. Obviously there are times when certain rules must be suspended (state of emergency), but there are rules in place that explain how that works. The problem arises when a government suspends rules/rights that they have no right to suspend.

The Constitution is a living document, and I agree that changes have to be made to it in order for it to continue to function as intended. However, the the way the teacher describes it is not that. She seems to believe that you take the Constitution as guidelines rather than rules, which is just downright false. If you do not like what the Constitution says, you have to change it. You cannot just ignore it.

Picture Credits: Scale of Justice 2 New: Original by DTR, Derivative by Agradman


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1 Comment

  1. leehe

    I also found myself confused as to what I would do as I read the novel. I found Marcus’s arguments to be particularly convincing in the debate about the Constitution. While I agree with Marcus that the Constitution is absolute and should be interpreted as such, I believe the Mrs. Anderson presented a particularly confounding argument that the role of the government is to protect “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In that order.” Her argument that the government, by invading privacy, is in fact saving lives leads to the question of whether or not citizens value privacy or life more, if such an extreme situation would occur where there was a choice between the two. I believe that each individual would have a different view on whether life or liberty is more important to them and when the government should intervene in such a situation.

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