Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Dog and the Wolf

The late Poul Anderson once finished one of his novels with the following poem

Would you know the dog from the wolf? You may look at his paw,
Comparing the claw and the pad; you may measure his stride,
You may handle his coat and his ears; you may study his jaw;
And yet what you seek is not found in his bones or his hide,
For between the Dog and the Wolf there is only the Law.

No country's legal system is perfect. But laws are one of the things which hold human society together. And one of the marks of a civilised society is that the laws apply to those in authority as well as everyone else.

One irony of this, is that sometimes it may appear to be harder to enforce the law if the people responsible for doing so also have to stick rigidly to it themselves. Sometimes it is incredibly infuriating when you see powerful people - such as developers - appear to flout the rules, and it can be very difficult for the authorities to stop them without flouting the rules themselves.

That does not mean that the effort should not be made.