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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Judge Dredd vs. The Future : The Crime Swoop

A few weeks ago, an article in the Sunday Herald, which reported on Judge Dredd writer Alan Grant's dismay at realizing that the terrible future that he helped to design was coming true, prompted me to take a look through some of my stash of the Judge and comment on other bizarre aspects of Judge Dredd's world that seemed to be coming true.

Tonight, I'm going to start off simply with the method of "law" for which the Street Judges are known - indiscriminant, unwavering, devoid-of-context policing that never questions the wisdom of its application. Let's start with Crime Swoops:

As described by our helpful caption boxes, Crime Swoops are completely unwarranted, random searches carried out with extreme prejudice by the street judges. For the children.

This panel from 2000AD #341 is absolutely absurd when taken in context with the rest of the issue. On the streets of Meg-City 1 during the "Graveyard Shift" story (spanning the issues of 2000AD #338 - 344), entire apartment blocks shoot at each other across the street, sending out armies to wage literal war between neighbours. A judge is killed earlier in the arc, and it's treated as business as usual. There are countless stabbings and other murders. In fact, a caption box near the end of the story says
"On average... there are now 24 A.R.V.'s [Armed Robbery with Violence], 139 serious assaults, 5 murders, 0-09 classifiable riots, and 230 traffic offenses every minute.... 7 Judges have so far died in the line of duty [the night in which "Graveyard Shift" takes place]."
But Dredd has the cajones to say: "Reckon the rest of the block'll get the message," while the caption box elaborates: "Crime swoops are harsh, but effective. They serve to uncover much illegal activity and act as a positive deterrent to other potential lawbreakers." (emphasis mine) Yup, that's a real good application of "Broken Window" justice - those murdering gangs of youths will surely think twice after seeing the middle-aged neighbors taken in for three years on the illegal possession of Nutra-Sweet.

So, has society degenerated to such an extent that the police are using "Crime Sweeps" today? Just check out the following links:

- Assault victim arrested and stripped by police. (ClassicallyLiberal)
- Hard Knocks With No-Knock. (Reason Magazine)
- The Worst Mayor in America. (Reason Magazine)
- Man Tasered For Filming Warrantless Police Search. (LiveLeak)

They're even starting to dress the part:

- Peruvian Anti-Riot Police Uniforms Look Like Judge Dredd Meets Batman. (Gizmodo)

Although I'm sure that these modern problems pale in comparison to the kinds of things that were happening in, say, Nazi Germany, Medieval Europe, or the Soviet Union, we consider those societies as vastly different from our own: we still like to kid ourselves and believe that our governments still value freedom and individuality. Disagree with my assessment? Check out the current crop of political candidates that my neighbors to the south have to select from.

When you read one of my previous paragraphs, you may have scratched your head when I mentioned "three years for the possession of Nutra-Sweet." Anyone who has been keeping their eyes on the government's encroachment upon what we choose to indulge in may have been able to make the connection, though:

Forget the "unlicensed firearm" bit - that's been done to death, quite frankly. I want you to focus on the "Illegal possession of sugar." What? Now why would they go and make sugar illegal? I'm glad you asked, hypothetical reader. Why, indeed?

- teachers ordered to "police" children's lunch boxes. (Daily Mail)
- Stossel: Trans Fat Ban Is 'Nanny State' Intrusion. (ABC News)
- Greenpeace poisons hungry crowd. Or not? (Classically Liberal)
- Too fat to love a child? (Junkfood Science)

States the world over have been stricken with "obesity epidemic fever," and feel the need to carefully nurse their citizens to ensure that they put only approved, government-subsidized industry products in their mouths. To paraphrase the good Judge, "Freedom is not for the people."

And that's not all I've got. This Crime Sweep has been very lucrative, indeed!

Yes folks, failing to empty your trash bins can result in some sever fines. Just ask the British, the ironic creators of "Judge Dredd:"

- Britons angry over trash bin bugging. (The Arizona Republic)
- Cameras in Cans to Spill the Beans on Fly-tippers. (Times Online)

As the years separating us from the time of Judge Dredd dwindle away, our present becomes even more disturbingly like Dredd's. What other policies reflective of Mega City One have we stupidly allowed to be established? Come back next time, ladies and gents.

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At 4/9/08 4:33 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get it - do you like Judge Dredd or not? I guess you're more of a Rogue Trooper kind guy.

I am of course joking - interesting article. Shame it's coming true.


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