The email button to the right, not working these last three weeks, now is up and running. Previous messages are indeed queued somewhere. I haven't seen them yet but will in a day or two. I hope they all meet the standard set by the first to make its way through the repaired system -- the one quoted after the jump, from Chris Borthwick of Australia, showing that the European roots of "selective enforcement" run far deeper than Captain Renault's last-minute crackdown on gambling in Casablanca:
I remember the same argument being made by E.P. Thompson about the enormous number of crimes punishable by death in eighteenth-century England; the purpose was not lots of dead criminals, but lots of opportunity to build prestige among the local squirearchy by allowing them to demonstrate the power to pardon (and prestige in the government by giving it the power to allocate pardoning rights to the squires).
And if you want to stay in China the same concept was favoured by the Legalists under the First Emperor. Wikipedia has it “Law was used to create paradox by which the Emperor's agents could then pick and choose what law would be enforced. The "art" (Shu) was in the clever excess of laws created, which, though individually simple and clear, created a framework where mere accusation would find most anyone of any station in violation of something, with their innocence difficult if not impossible to prove. Here the "special tactics" came to bear, as selective enforcement ultimately occurred at the pleasure of the Emperor. Power was expressed as much by prosecution of the law as by selection of which law to prosecute, and by the absence or cessation of prosecution due to yet another contravening law. Here the mystery of the Emperor's pleasure was communicated to the masses. Even those who wielded power on behalf of the Emperor were subject to the pernicious web woven under this doctrine of Legalism. The motivation of the Emperor was hard to know, as submission to one law readily brought one into conflict with another. Thus, only the Emperor was perfect. The controlling advantage was ever in the hands of the Emperor, who would always control the choice (or creation) of the final law to be brought to bear upon any situation.”