I can remember years ago thinking that the concept of laws not men was, in some way, essentially unfair. The fairness of it, of course, is the concept that no matter who you are, no one is above the law. The men in the concept stands for those who have traditionally thought themselves above the law.
I, in my innocence, interpreted men as people. And people, I thought, should be more important than the law. In other words, the person who steals to feed his starving family should be treated differently than the guy who just wants a Mercedes.
I did see the error of my ways and have since understood the concept of laws not men to be a good one. Still ...
There was something about all those episodes of Law and Order in which someone must be found guilty of something and in which any attempt to impose any sentence other than prison was to be fought tooth and nail that got under my skin. People not laws began to creep back into my consciousness.
This recent article in The New Yorker takes my concerns to a higher plane. Adam Gopnik isn't plumping for people not laws, but I think the idea is buried somewhere within the superstructure he is suggesting.
Another recent TV show ended it's case du semaine with the stark reminder that innocence is not the point. Due process is all our system promises.
It's that insufficient promise that Gopnik is taking to task.