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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: May ::
Re: Old Bill
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0991  Tuesday, 9 May 2000.

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Monday, 08 May 2000 10:04:08 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0976 Re: Old Bill

[2]     From:   Marilyn Bonomi <
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        Date:   Monday, 8 May 2000 14:00:17 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0976 Re: Old Bill and Related Topics


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Monday, 08 May 2000 10:04:08 -0700
Subject: 11.0976 Re: Old Bill
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0976 Re: Old Bill

Terence Hawkes clarifies:

>You may of course believe that a number of high-ranking police officers
>collectively, and for no apparent reason, conspired to break the law, or
>that suddenly and simultaneously they decided to break it on the basis of
>personal whim. Otherwise, it seems not unreasonable to presume that they
>were carrying out instructions from a higher authority.

No, it isn't 'unreasonable'.  Nor are any number of other, more subtle,
explanations.  Your explanation just doesn't, in my opinion, possess the
sort of necessity that one would associate with the terms "clear
presumption".

Rather than saying that the police officers and government were forming
a wider conspiracy than just the senior officers themselves, one can
avoid all such conspiracy theories.  The government might, for instance,
have made broad requests (perhaps hyperbolized by the process of passing
through intermediaries), which were realized in illegal tactics.  In
this case, the broad requests aren't in themselves illegal, nor do the
illegal tactics require a conspiracy of any sort.  They might just be
the product of certain tactical, doctrinal or ideological
presuppositions widely shared throughout the police forces, or some
combination of the above.

>To suggest that the source of this authority might be a government anxious
>to preserve and reinforce friendly trade relationships with China, does
>not strike me as a 'leap of logic'. Of course, it could have been Mick
>Jagger, the Spice Girls, or even, given the final recourse to the new
>Globe Theatre, the clamant shade of the Commander himself.

Saying that it was all the prime minister's doing is more or less on the
same level as these claims, or the claim that Hamlet must have known
that Fortinbras was plotting to take the Danish throne, or even that
Fortinbras knew that he was plotting to take the Danish throne.  All
rely on a complex plan being put into place by one or more persons "in
the know" rather than a road to hell being paved by tactical and
contingent decisions based upon unexamined, or already determined,
ideological or doctrinal presuppositions.  The debate would be more
subtle, not to mention more charitable, were it to move from the level
of conspiracy theory to group psychology, the function of habits of
thought in identifiable groups, the role of doctrine in paramilitary
organizations, the development of police tactics, the politicisation of
law enforcement, etc.

David Nicol's presentation of further evidence of your case only makes
your failure to present such evidence all the more apparent and strange,
while Abdullah's blandishment that this is a "classic case" might
illustrate the sort of leap of logic I'm talking about.  Conspiracy
theories only become more fashioning in the face of cynicism about
authority.  They don't in and of themselves demonstrate a higher level
of argument, nor are they any more critically intelligent than
MacCarthyist accusations about Communist conspiracies.  The only thing
which is changed is that we now make blandishments about authority
figures, where once the blandishments were made about Communists, or, in
our own period of study, Catholics.

Cheers,
Se

 

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