Thursday, August 22, 2013

The detective and the rule of law

Allan Griffith::

Detective Stories, Democracy, and Rule of Law

In his classic book on Golden Age mysteries, Murder for Pleasure, the critic Howard Haycraft makes the claim that the detective story can exist only in a democracy. The reason for this, he states, is that autocratic governments don’t care about punishing the right person, the individual who actually committed the crime. And of course autocratic governments don’t provide any protection for individual rights, whereas in a democracy there are strict rules of evidence and other means of protecting the rights of individuals.
Stephen Koch, Double Lives:

An essential tenet of the NKVD was that the system needed the arrest, torture, and death of thoroughly obedient-- therefore 'innocent'-- people, since without random terror, the innocent would never be afraid, and (even ideologically) the Soviet state was made coherent by fear. From this perspective, some of the motiveless malignity falls into place.
This point is the central premise of the British series Foyle's War which is set in World War Two. The very British detective takes it as a given that murderers must be caught and punished even when thousands are dying in the war.

No comments: