Political Commentary: Leveson Lament
Why do politicians dump seemingly intractable problems into the laps of judges and lawyers?
Haven’t they learnt yet that legal eagles will take years to come to the conclusion that new laws are the only answer, while politicians will leap to legislate and play brinkman politics.
What starts as quite a simple problem that the law is fully equipped to handle — hacking phones, for example — swiftly becomes a lengthy “national debate”, a matter of conscience, and interminable party political shenanigans. Thus is Leveson.
Most of us don’t have a big stage to act out passing events on, so we tend to apply common sense. On Leveson we have concluded that the press has suffered enough for its sins, with one top-selling newspaper biting the dust, scores of journalists sent to prison — with some still pending — and millions voluntarily paid out to victims by the biggest proprietor. Even Satan would regard that as punishment enough.
Can’t the politicos see that the shock to the system administered to journalists and editors will deflect them from such acts for half a century or more? The law has already had its hundredweight of flesh. There really is no more left to compensate for MPs’ fury over their expenses exposure.
Psychologically, a powerful, shaming taboo has been erected by circumstances. No more action need be taken. The hatches are firmly battened down, never to rise again in our lifetimes.
Destroying the 300-year freedom of the press after all that, would be politics gone beserk and only deprive our civilisation of one of its most cherished pillars: freedom of expression.
Acts of spite and petty revenge may give some satisfaction to inadequate personalities, but the price to pay is that society as a whole is diminished. We have been diminished enough in recent times.
The events of this century so far only confirm what the public already suspects: They are all in it together!