Law in the Internet Society

The Dark Knight

-- By DylanHunzeker - 10 Nov 2017

It's not nearly finished, so please be fair and as polite as possible in comments. Thanks in advance.

The Dark Knight: A Study

I was watching The Dark Knight recently on a bus home to my native Washington. D.C. It happens to be one of my favorite films of all time, not simply due to a personal predilection for snappy verbal ping pong played between its characters and the high-stakes histrionics. Those being only accoutrements, theme and symbolism and the moral ambiguity of the whole piece take center stage.Plot is unnecessary; you don’t need to know the one here to understand that like every superhero film this is about Good (Mr. Wayne also known as Batman) versus Evil (The Joker).The how is most important. What, precisely, makes The Joker so powerful? The answer is twofold. One, he has no compass beyond rote entertainment and some form of BPD mixed in with psychopathy. Non-bribe-able and obviously sans Father Figure or even a good high school counselor to show him how he could put his 175 IQ to actual good use for the sake of society (so that he may go to a top 5 school and eventually work for Google, Facebook, or Palantir) instead of, well, for the sake of killing people en masse and running around Gotham like a little rodent until he’s caught. So the invidiousness of his power lay in the fact that he literally will not stop at anything, but for what we still don’t know since he is a ticking time bomb no pun intended. He’s a terrorist [plot twist: who refuses to blow himself up].Second, he knows things. Not just about people, not just about the happenings of Gotham, but he understands the future and thus factors as not just our central antagonist but also our central seer (this pairing is not unusual; see Teirisias). Ergo when he says “the whole thing will blow”, he isn’t just predicting but rather creating what’s to come. Who made him? “We did”, says Harvey Dent, the film’s tragic hero turned villain. Indeed.

Professor Moglen oft highlights that environmental law isn’t about consent but rather the adoption of rules of liability reflecting “socially determined outcomes”: levels of safety, security, and welfare. Thus privacy law should not be about consent but about liability. He is right; we need to disregard the question of consent (and “third parties” for that matter, see [these cases]) if only to help those who don’t know they need saving and/or who don’t have even a basic understanding of technology to know how to protect themselves if they wanted or attempted to. The pain point of living in a society like Gotham is the understanding that if we have created an environment where The Joker is forced to exist, so we must create infrastructures to avoid him. (Understand that I said "avoid" -- some evil will never die, thus must be circumvented).

Is law really the best and only answer here? If I were to fly into Beijing and touch down onto a runway as smoggy as the sky surrounding the airplane had been cloudy (as I did last week), will environmental law really make sure that I don’t get a cough or have a 40% chance of dying of lung cancer dependent on how often I'm there? Or will the mask that I bought and brought with me be more useful? One could make the argument that the utility of environmental law is about sequence; if there had been regulation prior to my landing, perhaps smog wouldn't be an issue. Perhaps this is true, but the fact remains that I can't see the tarmac when I'm sitting on it. Law becomes as ornamental as Batman’s one-liners were to The Dark Knight’s ethos. Certain laws stay and influence, as some clauses of dialogue permeate the collective unconscious for years to come (“wanna know how I got these scars?”). Rather than being causal-effectual relationally, they co-exist and one can’t come without the other; law isn’t the only way and it can’t work alone. FreedomBox and SFLC must both exist and be utilized for either to mean anything. Bureaucracies and current structures can only help people so much; technology will have to take us further.

The Law: A Closer Look

The Tech: A Closer Look

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r1 - 10 Nov 2017 - 05:26:05 - DylanHunzeker
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