As I read and re-read favorite books, I find that so much of what is happening right now, in real life, is reflected in or addressed by passages in fiction.
In 1968’s The Man On The Balcony, by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, a pedophile has murdered a number of little girls. As the police struggle to find him, a group of angry parents, some of them armed, has decided they need to protect their children — since the cops aren’t doing it to their satisfaction.
Two of these militia members have mistakenly assault a police officer and have been arrested. They are middle class. They are furiously indignant. They are brought before Chief Inspector Martin Beck, a consummate interrogator. This is how he deals with them:
The man in the track suit opened his mouth to speak but Martin Beck checked him. He gestured to them to sit down, sat in silence for some moments with his elbows on the desk and pressed his palms together. Then he said:
“What you have done is indefensible. The very idea of militia comprises a far greater danger to society than any single criminal or gang. It paves the way for lynch mentality and arbitrary administration of justice. It throws the protective mechanism of society out of gear. Do you understand what I mean?”
“You’re talking like a book,” said the man in the track suit acidly.
“Exactly,” Martin Beck replied. “These are elementary facts. Mere catechism. Do you understand what I mean?”
It took about an hour before they understood what he meant.