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The Green Lights of Systemic Corruption

If there was one founding principle of the Mongol ruler, Genghis Khan, it would be – one rule of law for all men. He suffered great injustices as a young man and tasted the disparity of justice at the hands of powerful leaders. Subsequently, he came to found an empire on that one powerful principle.

Genghis Khan got it. Admittedly, an estimated 40 million people died in his expansion to rule 22 per cent of the the world’s total land area… but he got it. If you ceded to the Khan and joined the Mongol Empire there was true multicultural citizenship under that rule of law. It was a very progressive idea at the time. Genghis Khan got it. He got that without ‘one rule of law for all men’ there is no law, only a pseudo-arbitrary system of checks and balances determined by connections, power and corruption.

We like to believe these are more law-conscious times than the rule of an infamous barbarian from the Asian Steppes. But when you look around at the written and broadcast news we’re bombarded with a constant sideshow of systemic corruption. If you watch any American thriller you would almost be convinced that corruption is not only expected in politics and policing but that it’s a desirable trait of the powerful. That the ends justify the means. And along that chain of thought it’s not too hard to see how renditioning and the Guantanamo Bay prison factor into our idea of Law.

Corruption is most often overt rather than covert and usually manifests in ways people have come to think of as ‘normal business’. So here is a litmus test of how to identify corruption. The ‘Green Light’.

Because any time you see ‘green lights’ thrown out in a society… where ‘one rule of law for all men’ is ceded… there is corruption. It’s not merely a flag that corruption exits; a ‘green light’ is corruption in it’s everyday most basic form.

The ‘green light’ that Neddy Smith apparently received from Senior Sergeant Roger Rogerson in the 1970s to rob banks, deal drugs and commit murder was corruption. The ‘green light’ that a government gives to a developer to fast-track past due environmental processing is corruption. The ‘green light’ to persecute any individual (no matter what the reason or the provocation) is corruption.

Lawyers are in a special ethical situation worth mentioning. The first school of ethical thought is that a lawyer’s role is to defend their client (innocent or guilty) to the best of their ability and to test their client’s case against the Law. This may mean an occasional guilty person walks free but in the long-term the Law is made more robust. The second school of ethical thought is that a lawyer is also a citizen and every citizen has an ethical responsibility to report crime and to ensure that guilty people are removed from society.

Unfortunately this second school of ethical thought is what has permeated the Tasmanian legal system for generations… and I recently had a conversation with a lawyer who saw no problem with that stance. Except, I should point out, that if arbitrary committees and backroom power brokers decide who is guilty and innocent ‘in special cases’ before trials ever get before juries then in my opinion we do not have anything close to ‘one rule of law for all men’ – we have a ‘green light’.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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