Anura December 14, 2015 1:00 PM

The comment makes me think of DS9

Gul Dukat: In Cardassia, the verdict is always known before the trial begins; and it’s always the same.
Commander Sisko: In that case, why bother with a trial at all?
Gul Dukat: Because the people demand it. They enjoy watching justice triumph over evil, every time. They find it comforting.
Commander Sisko: Isn’t there ever a chance you might try an innocent man by mistake?
Gul Dukat: Cardassians don’t make mistakes.
Commander Sisko: I’ll have to remember that.

Daniel December 14, 2015 2:46 PM

I’d quibble with the first comment and the comic as well. I don’t believe that the pomp and circumstances around a trial are to make people believe in justice. It’s there to make people believe that their concerns (whichever side) are taken seriously. For nothing undermines perceived authority like laughter, whether that be the judges laughing at the people or the people laughing at the state.

Dirk Praet December 14, 2015 7:20 PM

@ Anura

At least on Cardassia they did bother with a trial.

From STNG “The Survivors”:

Kevin Uxbridge: No, no, no, no, no, you-you don’t understand the scope of my crime. I didn’t kill just one Husnock, or a hundred, or a thousand. I killed them all. All Husnock, everywhere. – Are 11,000 people worth… 50 billion? Is the love of a woman worth the destruction of an entire species?

Capt. Picard: We’re not qualified to be your judges. We have no law to fit your crime. You’re free to return to the planet. And to make Rishon live again.

Which is pretty much what also happened on planet Earth with those that caused the financial crisis and war criminals like Bush Jr., Dick Cheney and Tony Blair. Can we please have that Chilcot report already?

blake December 15, 2015 6:30 AM


It’s there to make people believe that their concerns (whichever side) are taken seriously.

I don’t think that changes the sentiment. It’s still a bunch of theater to convince participants that the right thing is being done, which is orthogonal to the right thing actually being done.

K.S. December 15, 2015 9:29 AM

Cynic in me looks at all examples where justice/security went wrong, and sees this as evidence that our society is corrupt beyond redemption. Engineer in me looks at justice/security systems, looks at the world around me that surprisingly does not resemble Mad Max, and concludes it is good enough. Still, parallels between practice of Security Theater and Justice Theater are striking.

Unfortunately, looking at the TSA and Homeland and comparing to Judicial system, we can clearly see that the long-term trend will be pay-to-play. If as individual, you want any measure of security you will need to pay. If unable to pay the system would default to theater. Right now security always defaults to theater.

Dave December 15, 2015 10:31 AM

@ Dirk

Incorporating Star Trek quotes into comments is something of which I very much approve.

However, Captain Picard let Kev off of his heinous crime because Kev was an omnipotent entity, a category in which the likes of Bush, Blair et al definitely do not belong. Or perhaps they think they are omnipotent, which is part of the problem…

Dirk Praet December 15, 2015 10:49 AM

@ Dave

Or perhaps they think they are omnipotent, which is part of the problem…

More like they are part of a system that, like Picard, apparently has no means of holding them accountable for their crimes. The differentiator being that at least Kev knew that what he had done was wrong, came clean and offered himself up for justice.

Dave December 15, 2015 11:17 AM

@ Dirk

I think you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head there.

Which brings another Trekkie quote to mind, this one from the Federation President in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: “This President is not above the law”.

A sentiment that sadly isn’t always respected here on planet Earth.

Anonymous Guy December 15, 2015 11:23 AM

I saw your appearance on “Adam Ruins Everything”. Bravo!! The segment about Security Theater was well done and I was well pleased to see you appear on the AV-enabled scooter. As always, I enjoy your insights into security issues.

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