Ping!! – I checked the message on my wristphone.
It was from the Department of Justice: You have been identified as the perpetrator of an offence against the reputation of the State. Report to the Cleveland Magistrate at 10h00 today, failing which your digital access will be suspended.
In 2058, there is no alternative: the System always knows where you are; if your access is suspended, you will not be able to use transport systems, transact cryptocoin or even call anyone; every public building will bar your entry. You can’t even run into the forest as your embedded microchip will broadcast your location.
What have I done? I was pretty sure it related to an old 2012 article I had quoted from in my most recent sillysocksonfriday blog, on the consequences of the welfare state. The article cited increased costs, making labour markets too inflexible, with unintended moral consequences reducing the will to work and any sense of self-responsibility. It suggested that comprehensive social programs diminished informal caring relations and social networks, fostering social isolation and self-centredness.
The State is very sensitive to criticism and this is its way of suppressing dissent.
So I called my virtual solicitor, updated him and requested a barrister’s presence at my online meeting with the Magistrate. I advised that I believed it would be the same issue relating to civil liberties as my previous case. As this was not my first such clash with the State for criticism of their smothering welfare policies, they were again trying to silence me, despite the overthrow of my last conviction by the Global Appeal Court.
The universal Justice system was amazingly efficient and in this modern digital age, an issue could be decided and if necessary, appeal to national and global levels could be concluded within 3 days!
Of course, all evidence was immediately available to the Magistracy (nicknamed RexRegina) as were all laws, precedents and customs. There was still a need for representation as local knowledge was essential to ensure that the State was consistent in its prosecution of the laws.
That was its weak point – some State Security information analyst equated criticism with sedition: the District Prosecutor had to react to all complaints and often issued a summons to try to pressure a plea out of accused parties which enabled a settlement. If RexRegina threw the charge out, his/her butt was covered (or so he/she thought!) I believe it’s time for this function to be digitised too!
It is remarkable that the main attributes of a courtroom lawyer no longer required a quick mind and a smooth turn of phrase; digital magistrates are unmoved thereby.
The most common complaint and effective defence was victimisation. This had been so since the emancipation of women, demise of apartheid, legalisation of homosexuality and the #metoo outcry of the minorities in the late 1900’s and early 2000’s. The sensationalism and emotionalism provoked by the media had led to major distortions of value systems and virtual lynch mobs. The System reaction had been the required verification of media reports by blockchain and the institution of the digital Justice system.
At 10h00, I and my barrister reported online in the virtual Courtroom in hologram. The virtual Magistrate ascertained that we could proceed immediately, heard my not guilty plea, found there was no offence committed and re-iterated that criticism was part of the freedom of expression.
The District Prosecutor was ordered to review his system to ensure that it contained details of my previous appeal case.
I was awarded costs and ₿1000 compensation for malicious prosecution, which I donated to the Home Farming University.
To celebrate the endurance of the principle of freedom of expression, I ordered a tuk-tuk drone to fetch me from home to take me to lunch at the Lighthouse Restaurant. As a centenarian pensioner, one can’t afford a Jagjet! My virtual barrister joined me at no extra cost but of course did not dine…