Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Subverting the Canadian Paradigm

If you follow the link above you will get to a post which offers you the chance to violate Canadian law (if you're Canadian), by reading about a major political/financial scandal (something about advertising contract kickbacks and the Liberal Party). I have some mixed feelings about this, actually. Our own relationship between the press and the courts is such that "trying the case in the press" is a cliche for trying to subvert the judicial process, and finding a reasonably good jury that hasn't formed strong opinions about widely known cases is a great challenge (and we can discuss the abuse of the jury selection process another time, but I actually think it works more often than not at this point). The Canadian "gag rule" is an attempt to preserve the jury pool, to keep "opinion makers" away from the topic until they can't do any harm. It seems like this might be a case in which the closure is going too far and the topic is too important, but it doesn't seem like a terrible idea in principle.

Let's face it, the information is going to come out: nobody who's guilty is going to be spared public humiliation, criminal charges, etc. And, as this whole blogging thing demonstrates, the information is not even close to actually secret. Unless there's an urgent need -- an upcoming election, for example -- a bit of patience might pay off dividends in an improved process. The "need to know" isn't necessarily a "need to know now." There are legitimate uses for anonymity, secrecy, etc....

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