The Times They Are A-Changin’
“It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer” – William Blackstone
In his seminal work “Commentaries on the Laws of England”, William Blackstone expressed this idea which though not new, was then cemented and became a profound principle in criminal law.
I find this quote rather under celebrated. To confine it to the brim of law and judiciary seems unjustified. For me, this summarises the differences between every ideology with a tinge of liberalism and those inclined towards radicalism. The focus on the rights of an individual associated with the quote has served as baseline for Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the stepping stone of liberalism.
Having journeyed through different ideologies and philosophies, it seemed we were converging to Liberalism. Year 2016, however, has seen a lot of diversions. Brexit could possibly be marked as the first event this year to reflect the shifting ideologies. People of Britain in a historic referendum chose to exit EU. If I may, British willingness to make innocents suffer (migrants) to salvage the economy (equivalent to punishing guilty which the move may or may not) goes to point out the shift.
In another part of the world, Colombians rejected the FARC peace deal, albeit marginally, because the idea of letting ten guilty persons escape than an innocent suffering apparently didn’t appeal to the citizens. People want FARC members to be punished even if it means prolonging an already consuming civil war and unrest. To top the above events, Americans didn’t mind choosing Donald Trump as the “Leader of the Free World” neglecting his inherent xenophobia, racism, sexism. Making America great again got priority over the side casualties to every other section of American society except for white males.
This finally brings us back to India. The government has demonetised the notes of INR 500 and INR 1000 to curb the growing menace of black money, counterfeit currency and terror financing, but at what cost? When the dust settles, it will be interesting to see what price of a human life can be used for future policies to be paid as collateral damage.
We are living in “exciting” times, witnessing a change in the prevalent ideologies. This period will definitely make a mark in History; good or bad is yet to be seen. If something can be said for sure, it’s that “The Times They Are A-Changin’ “!