"Nobody these days holds the written word
in such high esteem as police states do..."
Italo Calvino
(1923-1985) Italian writer
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
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Look at all the men in black (SWAT, FBI, CIA, soldiers) ... more police (control, regulations) every day!
 -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
  • 3
     -- italo, woodland park      
    Never forget an ancient maxim handed down from generations unkown. "You can always beat the system by following the rules." That's a rough paraphrase. Those desolate night fires where all man's truth resides don't always translate well across all time.
     -- J. B. Wulff, Bristol     
  • 2
    When the cops stop you and want to search your car and they smile and ask you politely to open your trunk, smile back and ask to see the warrant, even if you only have a set of jumper cables in the trunk.
     -- jim k, austin     
  • 4
    Perhaps Calvino wrote this to see if his reader was awake. Of course, it is exactly the opposite. The Soviet Union had a nice written constitution, but the State ignored it. The U.S. has an even better written constitution. It is ignored by the "men in black" who "beat the system" by ignoring the written word.
     -- Stew, Fredericksburg     
  • 4
    As the US became a police state under King George W the state ignored our constitution and bill of rights, subjecting us to numerous abuses. No, Calvino has it exactly backwards... in a police state the written word (laws) mean nothing, all rights are lost to the whim of the state.
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA, US     
  • 2
    Reston, what I think is meant is that the more words we have to abide by (law and authority) the more they are used by those very people who wish to subjugate us. Municipalities love the written word it gives them power over their fiefdom. Insurance companies love the written word as it give them an out in paying claims. Attorney's live by the written word of past judgments. The written word is used to suppress our freedom. Throw out the law books and religious icons (books) and let's start again with a blank page and only allow any future law to be on ONE page.
     -- RBESRQ     
  • 1
    It may surprise Reston that the Constitution is not in effect for the simple reason that the majority of Americans believe government can declare and enforce anything they want. And yes when we are dragged away to jail, it is not because we have violated the Constitution, it is because we have violated some statute written down for cops to enforce. It does not matter to the cop if the laws are constitutional or not -- tell it to the judge (who is beholden to uphold the Uniform Commercial Code, not the Constitution). And if the US became a police state with GWB, when did it end under Obama? Sorry to say, but Americans sold each other out for promises to rob 'the other guy' by the (police-)State a long time ago -- you can thank FDR for that!
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 4
    The most certain measure of the degree of the declension of any civilization is the extent of the proliferation of laws nominally intended to constrain the evolving lawlessness of its population.

    Unquestionably, the low road to serfdom.
     -- Patrick Henry, Red Hill     
    There are 4 legal scenarios at play here (if religion can be considered the 4th scenario) The here "written word" references God's Word to man as was memorialized in writ. That is the written word which was held in such high esteem. The legal philosophy "natural law" is the next legal scenario. The absolute law (gravity, physics, fiscal law, etc.) - that which the Constitution was based. The second legal scenario is "legal positivism" - That which man as god says is law, places it to writ and enforces through brutal tyranny. The police state holds "legal positivism" sacrosanct unless it is more convenient to implement the third legal scenario - "legal realism" (it doesn't matter what is placed in writ - all that matters is what is immediately expedient (current courts and the executive refer more and more to "legal realism")). "Legal positivism" is the focus of the quotes second half.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 1
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