WHEN the defeated Don John, a self-proclaimed villain, was determined to cause serious mischief against his brother, Don Pedro and his friend, Claudio, he decided that the victim shall be Hero, Leonato's sister whose fabricated story about her having succumbed to the amorous attention of another man had since angered her suitor, Claudio.

As a result, a massive hullabaloo had erupted on the day of their union when Claudio pelted her down with a series of invectives and accused her of lechery. He then abandoned the innocent, shock-stricken Hero at the altar in complete humiliation. Claudio was however reunited with his lover upon discovery of truth of the conspiracy orchestrated by Don Pedro.

Such is Shakespeare's apt portrayal of love and connivance through "Much Ado About Nothing", beautifully written in verses of iambic pentameter, where audiences' attention is subtly drawn to the importance of careful, unbiased, and learned analysis of a matter free from judgmental and prejudicial sentiment that would potentially cause a stir as severe as Claudio and Hero's brief yet torturous parting.

Shakespeare also very craftily engaged the minds of his audiences when the latter are invited to immerse themselves with the agony of indignity and worse, unnecessary parting suffered by Hero which could have been very easily avoided had Claudio exercised enough caution so as to not easily fall prey to Don John's ploy.

This play was believed to have been written in 1598 and its first performance 1612. Its seemingly superannuated existence notwithstanding, coupled with the fact that the play was written four centuries ago during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Malaysia is somehow in a continued habit of re-enacting the lack of judgment as depicted in the play.

More interestingly, such recurrence operates mercilessly under the guise of legal [in]sensitivity.

We seem quite predisposed to wrath and offensiveness, rather unnecessarily, when a subject relating to race, sexuality or religion is raised in a manner not music to our ears.

Very often are rage and tumult resorted to before openness is sought and very rarely is middle path traversed by the warring parties in the face of conflict.

The late Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim's tragedy is evidence enough of this crystallised idiocy, amongst others.

Despite the unchallenged Consent Judgment of the court reflecting the uncontested intention between parties to remove the Seafield Maha Mariamman Temple, the temple protestors had decided that the best way moving forward was to take it to the street in total disregard to the said court judgment leading to a massive racial kerfuffle the entire nation ever witnessed.

A Consent Judgment is as a good as a judgment obtained at the conclusion of a trial in court. Legal recourse could have resorted to only had legal appreciation still continued to exist.

Alas, this was never the case and the late Adib was made a sacrificial lamb as a result.

The recent unfortunate beating of two men allegedly indulging in same-sex intimacy in the complete privacy of their car should also not go unnoticed.

Actuated by the perceived breach of societal norm, a throng of angry men had supposed it morally justifiable that the purported couple be dealt with without reference to the law.

Such is a classic example of taking the law into one's own hands. Complete regard to legal procedures and due process is not had resulting in moral disorder.

Perhaps if we take meticulous heed to the importance of being earnest in our desire to maintain actual peace and equanimity, absolute respect for the law can materialise through an act of caution and not of being highly presumptuous or blatant indiscretion.

While it may be arguable that one's intention in curbing a crime is noble, one must never allow himself to be in a wild fit of folly and unreasonably assume that hastening to put a stop to a crime, if at all, is an individual responsibility which negates the need to refer to the authority.

Law is not there to assist us in our choice in action. Rather, law is there to determine whether such choice of ours has an appearance of legality.

We must at once forbid our eyes from being falsely gladdened and our fingers hexed by any opportunity to assume moral superiority over supremacy of the law.

No one is above the law and never under any circumstances should that position change.

We have seen what Claudio's mistake has cost him. It was not without its price and Claudio was left with no choice but to pay for it. However, we can spare ourselves the same predicament if we choose a different path.

If we ever genuinely strive to be a crusader of justice, then let justice be achieved through and only through the law.

Otherwise the real and actual traitors amongst us is no one else but our presumptuous-selves.

Knock on wood.

* Alan Razak is an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya.

** The views expressed here are strictly of the author's and do not necessarily reflect Astro AWANI's.