My last word on freedom under the law, for now
In the play, A Man For All Seasons,
the family of Sir Thomas More argue over the bad intentions of the schemer Sir Richard Rich, who has just left.
ALICE (Exasperated, pointing after RICH)
While you talk, he's gone!
MORE And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
ROPER So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!
MORE Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
ROPER I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
MORE (Roused and excited)
Oh? (Advances on ROPER)
And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you -- where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (He leaves him)
This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast -- man's laws, not God's -- and if you cut them down -- and you're just the man to do it -- d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly)
Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.
* * * * *
The whole point of the RFRA is to help protect people -- "give them benefit of law," as Sir Thomas put it -- against those who would cut a great road through the laws in order to get those they see as bad. Sometimes, the Ropers of this world are conservatives, sometimes they're progressives, but we have way too many people trying to "get" the other side these days. We need good, sound laws like the RFRA for the sake of ordinary people's safety.