Friday, January 07, 2005

No Cops in the Cathedral

If government is always onshore, let’s all go offshore.

Back in my day Hollywood taught every kid that if the king’s enemy could get to the cathedral, the sheriff couldn’t arrest him once inside. Hollywood also taught us that the vampire could eat any and everybody: unless you held up a cross, ate garlic, held out till dawn ...

In high school we’d drag race on Sunrise Highway a mile or so from the town border. The cops would chase us. We’d beat the cops to Baldwin, pull over, and laugh at them. I don’t think that we were really criminals: we just loved the idea that they had a leash: and that we could yank them up short on it.

There’s nothing new in all this. The cat chases the bird. If the bird can get airborne, the cat can’t follow. The dog chases the cat. If the cat can climb a tree, the dog stops.

The guy chases the mugger, but not into Harlem. If I can get out of the water, the shark will not pursue me up onto the beach.

OK. There are natural boundaries: for different species. What I particularly love are political boundaries: and the boundaries of superstition. Once in the church, the secular loses its power. Once out of the church, the superstition evaporates.

John Grisham’s current best seller, The Last Juror, offers a villain with a circumstance I adore. The guy comes from a family of Mississippi moonshiners who settled an island generations ago. They have a still, they have their own under-class of blacks, they steal cars, they branch into cannabis, they launder their own money ... And the revenuers learned to leave them alone generations ago. No cop will venture onto the island; no revenuer ever came back!

So here’s the little old fashioned, backwards, nearly backwoods Mississippi town, preyed on by a guy who’s genuinely backwoods. They can convict him in town, but they can’t arrest him out of town.

The town manages to convict him for rape and murder. His family’s threats, bribes, tricks, fail to get him off. But then he’s sent to a state, not a town, prison. The parole board doesn’t bother to know anything about the trial. And once state-level government has paroled him, his parole officer has no idea where he is, what he’s doing, whether or not he’s connected with the string of murders that starts eliminating every juror who’d convicted him!

I’m not for murder: in general. Even less do I tolerate rape. Least of all do I tolerate monopolies of power. I am so glad that the vampire can’t follow me as far as the dawn.

I’m glad the devil won’t bother me in church.

But where do those of us without an island controlled by our own clan get away from government?

And once we’re sick of God, is there a universe we can go to to get away from him?


At 1:16 AM, bkMarcus said...

To quote a contemporary philosopher, "If I can get far far far enough into my own head, maybe God will leave me alone."

At 11:25 AM, pk said...

bk's comment is cute between the two of us, but perhaps I should explain for third parties: I'd just bolted the theme to him as he was surprising me by opening the blog for me, his promptings having had no effect. First I said that I'd play with it later: within seconds though I found myself redrafted the just scribbled email for the blog.
I don't know why, but I left out the email's climactic sentence. bk must have liked it: because he supplies it: "... once we’re sick of God, is there a universe we can go to to get away from him?"

At 1:28 AM, pk said...

Ugh, I butchered my comment on bk's comment: a typo and a mistake. I've corrected both by adding the piece to the Society section of

This post has been moved from the macroinformation blog to the Iona Arc blog and has also been duplicated in's Society section.

No comments: