Friday, November 21, 2008

The Rule of Law . . . or Chaos & Anarchy

What is it that separates human beings from animals? More than anything else, it is that we have within us a spark of the divine:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
(William Wordsworth)

That divine spark gives us the tremendous capability to organize ourselves as a society simultaneously dedicated to freedom and order. In such a society, each is free to choose within broad parameters how to live, how to love, how to work, what to say, what to do, what to be, and how to worship.

But that free society is possible only because there is order. Thus we have civilization, which affords a degree of peace and security to society. Otherwise, there is chaos and anarchy, for when people do not feel bound by the rule of law, there is nothing to restrain or prevent them from doing whatever comes into their mind to do.

We have traffic laws to keep people safe: drivers must stop at stop signs, and obey posted speed limits. It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level above a given point. If everyone suddenly decided that traffic laws were inconvenient, because they interfered with a person’s freedom to have a "good time," get plastered, and then race home as fast as that person dared to drive, imagine the condition of our roads and freeways! No one who wasn’t plastered would dare to drive, because everyone on the road would be going 60 -80 mph, weaving from one lane to another, IF they stayed on the roads to begin with! No one could get anywhere because, without traffic signals, it wouldn’t be long before two freedom-loving people would insist they had the right-of-way at an intersection, and there would be an accident, which would tie up traffic for the rest of the day.

Nor does it work for SOME of the people to obey the law, and a privileged few to be allowed to live "outside" or "above" the law. Then, you wind up with the type of Gang Society Chicago witnessed early in the last century, with one lawless group after another fighting for supremacy, and the poor, law-abiding citizenry left in the middle as pawns.

Which is why I am so troubled now, weeks after the election is over, to see organized groups seeking to harass and intimidate peaceful, law-abiding citizens with the goal of overturning the results of a free election. Free speech is fine. Continuing to speak after an election is lawful. Harassment, bullying, disrupting church services, attacking the elderly, are threatening bodily harm, are not. I don’t care who they are or what their "cause" is; anyone who participates in this type of harassment and persecution is a barbarian, and should be arrested and sent to prison for disturbing the peace, inciting to riot, and in some cases, like the one shown in this video, assault.

The election is over. The people have spoken. Not everyone is happy with the results. That goes for ALL the races and ballot measures, not just any one proposition. But that does not give ANYONE the right to go on a rampage and destroy someone else’s rights.

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