Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Part Eighty-Eight, Chapters Six and Seven - Heller Fixes Prison Overcrowding and the Problem of Censorship

Right, let's get through proclamations four and five, the "tougher" one and the one not worth mentioning last chapter.

After motioning for the musicians to make the Royal Cymbal Clash of Silence, Heller announces that in order to begin the new emperor's realm with a time of peace, he - by which I mean Heller, Mortiiy is still crying in his royal bedchambers - proposes an amnesty.  "This rescinds all rebel proclamations en masse and also amnesties all persons on Calabar or connected to the revolt for any crime of whatever kind as of Universal Star Time, two hours ago."  This goes over well, since "Nobody was mad at Calabar now" that it turns out Prince Mortiiy isn't a violent, hot-headed rebel, but instead a... um.  Well, he reconciled with daddy a few hours ago, so let's just forget about that whole civil war, the millions killed, the cities burned, etc.

But Heller's got another idea: an amnesty for the Apparatus forces as well.  Otherwise, "in bands here and there and, within the population, incidents would continue to take toll [sic]."  Don't look at me, I'm just as baffled as you are.

Out loud, Heller asks a "Domestic Police general"... hah.  Anyway, he asks how long it would take, hypothetically speaking, to apprehend and try the citizens involved in the recent riots.  The crowds watching through the evidently two-way Homeview channels get all quiet and nervous as the "general" explains that it'd take years to reform the police force, since so much of it ended up joining the riots.  When Heller talks about how the police would have to run house-to-house searches or put whole crowds in custody for weeks at a time, the situation becomes tense enough that everyone is relieved when Heller suggests a Confederacy-wide amnesty to all persons, regardless of crime.

Everyone starts to celebrate until the "general" realizes that Heller's worded the proclamation so that it would pardon everyone in jail, too.  Rather than modifying things so that the amnesty would only cover crimes committed after a certain date, or tweaking it by the crime's severity, Heller instead nods, only making exceptions to this amnesty for the likes of Madison and Hisst, as well as His Majesty if he has to remove people to form a new government.

The bluebottle was stuck with his prisons.  "But good Heavens, that would empty everything we've got!"

"They're too full anyway," said Heller.

"But some of those people committed terrible crimes!"

"I'll tell you what," said Heller.  "For any already condemned criminal, we could make the condition that he must accept the amnesty with a promise to commit no more crimes, and he must be told and it must be part of the amnesty that if he or she does commit one more felony, the immediate sentence is death.  I assure you that many will reform. 

Combat engineers are also criminologists, you see.  They know that Space Hannibal Lecter just needs another chance to prove that he doesn't have to murder and eat people.  And that people who violate this second chance should be executed regardless of whether they killed someone or were late in paying taxes.

The amnesty does not include insane asylums, as they wouldn't even understand."

I wasn't aware that being insane was a crime.

This still isn't going over well, and people are furious that any of the Apparatus would be getting away with their crimes.  Heller thinks, but does not argue, that rounding up two or three million Apparatus goons would take years, leading inevitably(?) to "more riots, more burning buildings."  Instead he adds a clause so that any ex-Apparatus thug caught doing something illegal, no matter how illegal, could be "shot down in situ," or even "in flagrante delicto."  Nobody else knows Latin, but the words sound nasty, so they're enthusiastic.

The end result is that Heller declares that the Army will be helping the police keep order until the latter is rebuilt, the murderous rapist thieves the Apparatus unleashed upon the Confederacy are still out there, the prisons have just been emptied of everyone except the book's named antagonists, and the law has been abridged to "one strike you're dead."  Sounds an awful lot like how things work in Fallout, but the crowds go wild!  Long live Prince Mortiiy!  Who had nothing to do with any of this!

While proclamation four makes the rounds, Krak returns with a message from Heller's sister: stall.  She also asks what the hell he was thinking with the Apparatus amnesty, and he explains that "Gris wasn't the only person with a blackmail hoard.  It prevents Apparatus officers from starting up in the crime business."  Or at least, starting with blackmail as opposed to embezzlement, racketeering, etc.

She didn't make too much sense out of his reply; she also detected an evasion.  "You must have had another reason than that."

"Be quiet." 

These two love each other very much, by the way.

"But you released several million criminals on the society.  Why?"

"The state has been corrupt and justice slipshod." 

So let's give up on justice altogether.

He turned and looked at her steadily.  "All right.  Remember, you asked for it.  You might not be the only Lissus Moam."

She caught her breath. He was alluding to herself having been a falsely condemned nonperson until just today.  Tears started into her eyes.  "You did it for me.  To celebrate my regaining citizenship."

"Go away.  You don't like softhearted people." 


"I am ashamed. I love you, Jettero!"

"Well, don't hang around here being mushy.  Go help Hightee and maybe we can save our friends.  A forlorn hope, but maybe."

So it's not that Heller hates justice or anything, he's just a firm believer in that old adage "better ten criminals go free than one innocent man be punished."  Though in this case it's closer to "better to let millions of criminals roam free than risk keeping one or two falsely-imprisoned bombshell noblewomen behind bars."

They have another kissy moment, and the kiss is "camera'd on Homeview," so of course the watching crowds across the planet cheer.  I bet when Krak and Heller settle down on Manco there's gonna be a servant in charge of ringing the silver bell atop their mansion whenever they have sex, so that everyone can stop what they're doing and celebrate.

Heller muttered, to the monitors across the room, "You wouldn't be cheering if you knew I was trying to save your favorite enemy, Earth.  Well, it's all up to mathematics now."

On to proclamation five.  See if you can spot where math gets involved, 'cause I can't.

This one's pretty straightforward: since psychology and psychiatry have been banned, and His Majesty doesn't want to so much as hear the word "Earth" again, Heller is agreeing to the publishers' demands to appoint a Royal Censor to execute those previous orders, as well as purge any traces of the dreaded PR from the media.  Unfortunately it turns out Hisst killed the Royal Historian at some point, so Noble Arthrite Stuffy gets roped into the role, reluctantly giving up his publishing empire for the good of the people (and because his fellow publishers push him into it since his paper was the most influenced by psychiatry and stuff).

"There is one proviso," said Heller, severely, "I do not much hold with censorship to hide state errors or oppress dissident voices just because the state has been stupid.  Where censorship is really needed is to protect the individual person against a river of manufactured lies and to protect the public from being stampeded by unprincipled villains such as Madison and Hisst.  Your duty must never include the suppression of the truth.  So DO NOT ABUSE THIS POST!"

And there you have it.  Censorship is okay if you're eradicating any mention of subjects you disagree with.  Put a gag on free expression so that nothing inaccurate and unpleasant can be said about any individual, since there's no way to tell whether accusations are true or not if they're made public - the censor, of course, will have no such difficulty.  And to keep someone from abusing this power, simply tell them not to.

Number five.  He had gotten number five!  It was the key in his equation. 

Maybe this is like Command Isolation Geometry, so if you introduce legislation in the right order, everyone will agree to the last piece without difficulty.  Or perhaps this is more similar to the Magician's Forcer Gesture.

He offered up a prayer.

To whatever generic space deities are listening.

Now to set the stage for number six, the fatal one, the one which would determine whether five billion people,


including his friends,

There we go!

would live or die.  Number six would deal with the fate of Earth!

Just a few more chapters now.

Back to Part Eighty-Eight, Chapters Four and Five

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