Scalia on "24"

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Justice Scalia used the TV show "24" as a vehicle to discuss why we need to consider how our legal framework might deal with the, unlikely as it may be, possible doomsday scenario of knowing about an imminent nuclear attack in a U.S. city, and having someone who has intel that will allow us to prevent that attack, and how we might get that information.

Some have been ridiculing and attacking Scalia for mentioning "24." "It's only a TV show, you idiot!," they say. Of course it's only a TV show. But that doesn't mean that it's not a valid point: "24" is only an example that many people are familiar with, and while many people just say "it's so unlikely it's not worth talking about," that doesn't mean we actually shouldn't talk about it.

Indeed, this concept is perhaps the major dividing line on the issue of torture. Some, like John McCain, think torture should remain illegal, but that in such a doomsday scenario, we should break the law and let the people (or their duly elected representatives) decide what to do about it. Others think the law should contain an exception for such a scenario.

I agree with McCain on this: the law cannot conceive of every possible situation, and we need to elect and appoint people capable of making such decisions. This can work so long as they are accountable.

Wil Wheaton made a silly comment: "When I turn on CNN, I wish our world leaders would watch a little more Star Trek and a little less 24." Well, as improbable as "24" is, it is far more realistic than Star Trek. Yeah, we don't need money, everyone has everything they need! Scarcity is no longer a problem because we have matter conversion! Let me know when you get teleportation and replicators actually working, along with the ability to easily find and colonize other planets, along with easily finding and mining resources from other planets ... then we can talk about how we could possibly have a society where everyone is loving and peaceful and has everything they need.

And, of course, it totally ignored Scalia's point, which is not that we should be like "24," but that the show displays examples of things that could happen, and we as a society have not yet come to terms with how to deal with those things in our legal framework.

But it got me thinking: what TV shows should we be patterning our country after? And no cheating by saying news, sports, reality shows, or other "nonfiction" TV.

My offering: the Smurfs. Slightly more realistic than Star Trek, and in addition, you get to create your own females!

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

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