The openness principle backfires
The world’s fastest constitutional change
Once, in the spirit of true social consciousness, Swedish lawmakers decided that the evidence in all public trials—everything called “The People vs. ...”—should be available to the general public. It seemed reasonable. If we’re all suing somebody, we should have access to all information pertaining to the trial.
It was a constitutional right up until 1993, when the
police cracked a huge child pornography ring. As the trial
started, some sicko realized that this was a public case
and therefore, he had a right to get copies of the evidence! The county courthouse was suddenly inundated with requests for copies of the child pornography.

The distraught courthouse officials didn’t know what to do. The law demanded that they provide those copies.

This is the good part: I will always have a warm spot in my heart for one of our evening newspapers—sensationalist garbage that it is—for what they did during this case. They published every single one of those sicko letters requesting copies of the evidence. One was so pathetic that they didn’t just publish the text—they printed a photocopy of the letter. Written in pencil, with lots of misspellings, from a man claiming to be “studying the phenomenon” of child pornography. In fact, the man was in prison serving a 20-year sentence for that very crime. The prison was even given as his return address!
Astrid Lindgren, the beloved author of Pippi Longstocking and dozens of other children’s books, was also given a full-page article, where she wished that the perpetrators would burn in hell.

Largely thanks to the efforts of this newspaper, the Swedish government pushed through the world’s fastest constitutional change, eliminating the public right of access to evidence in public trials; the whole process was completed within two months. Now that’s what I call a public service!
Swedish phenomena
- Red houses
- Signs
- Winter darkness
- Feathersticks
- Easter hags
- Going Postal

Funny stories
- “Is that in Europe?”
- The Good Ship Vasa
- The openness principle