So why is any of this “Picturegate” causing such a fuss?

27/03/2009

Quite frankly, this boils down to the fundamental freedoms of individuals in Irish society.

Once upon a time, there was a man named Louis XIV. He was the king of France, and he said, “L’état c’est moi”: I am the State.

His grandson was a man named Louis XVI. He was eventually regarded as a despot, and was swiftly beheaded in a historical footnote called The French Revolution. Across the seas, during The American Revolution, America had earlier rid itself of colonial, monarchical rule in pursuit of a democratic nation.

At the beginning of its revolution, France published the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, followed two years later in America by the United States Bill of Rights.

Meanwhile, a man watching all this transpiring, named Montesquieu, came up with the first recognisable concept of the “separation of powers”.

Influenced also by the Glorious Revolution in England, Montesquieu distilled the administrative powers of the State into the executive (the government), the legislative (the house(s) of parliament) and the judiciary (the courts). He realised that to separate these powers is crucial to avoid despotism and tyranny, as each power is a check on the other, and no power can be routed by one or both of the other powers.

It’s a founding principle of modern democracy.

Montesquieu also said, “L’injustice faite à un seul est une menace faite à tous”: Injustice done to one is a threat to us all.

And all of this took place the 1700s.

Of course, these ancient folk had the benefits of the Enlightement: the age of reason. Clearly, rather than developing such sound ideas, our twenty-first century government has sought fit to do the exact opposite.