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March 27, 2008

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To the editor:

Barack Obama has given us the latest great speech in our history. In it he described the genius of America as our ability to improve ourselves. Recognizing perfection can never be reached, America's single great attribute, he said, is its belief in the process of becoming more perfect.

Neither we nor our laws are static, but evolve in freedom, toward justice. We must contemplate the meaning of that word. It means balance. Injustice is a lack of balance. Freedom defies rigidity; it defies the static tendency of order that leads, for example, to the imbalance of racial prejudice.

Jumping to a different page of the news we find a little story about a 12-year-old girl who has been denied entrance into the national spelling bee. I suspect many of us are offended by an apparent injustice. We are offended that those responsible will not correct what seems a harsh and obvious injustice. We are offended that a rule has been used to create injustice, that a law can be applied so blindly.

Freedom is the ability to choose our own path. We are not governed by law; we create it. We continually re-make law to aid us in the process of forming a "more perfect union." We are not bound by our past mistakes; we can choose; we can move forward.

William Skepnek,

Lawrence

Comments

kansas778 6 years, 10 months ago

This is the most frightening letter I've read on this site. Rule of law is a safeguard against the tyranny of the majority that democratic countries must maintain. Freedom is not complete freedom of action, but freedom within the confines of the law. The law sets the limits, and we are free to act within them, as without those limits, there will be no safeguards against abuses, no predictibility, and no structure. If we bend the rules in an effort to prevent injustices, that itself is an injustice to those who have acted in reliance upon those rules. You cannot cure injustice with injustice. We must be governed by law if you want to prevent injustices, we have seen the consequences of being governed by the alternative.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

The "rule of law" is by no means a safeguard against the "tyranny of the majority".

Laws are created and implemented by a majority of Congress, the members of which are elected by a majority of the (voting) population.

There is really no way around the fact that, in a democracy, the majority (even a small one) has more power than the minority (even a large one).

kansas778 6 years, 10 months ago

jafs--congress is elected by the majority, but are not beholden to do the majority's bidding. That is one of the protections against tyranny of the majority. Also, the courts prevent unconstitutional laws from being implemented as well, and changing the constitution requires supermajorities, and even then Congress and the state legislatures don't have to go along. There is no way around the fact that, in a constitutional democracy, the majority is prevented from exercising tyranny over the minority.

Ragingbear 6 years, 10 months ago

Freedom's just another way to say that there's nothing left to lose.

acoupstick 6 years, 10 months ago

Rules (and laws) don't apply to everyone. If you get in trouble or encounter a law you don't like, do the following:

  1. Lie. Insist that you are innocent at all times and express moral outrage that anyone might think otherwise.

  2. Lie. Insist that you are truthful at all times and express moral outrage that anyone might think otherwise.

  3. Whine and complain. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

  4. Pass the buck. Place blame elsewhere and express moral outrage that anyone might think you are to blame.

Following rules is for chumps, just ask anyone in the public eye: politicians, entertainers, college and professional athletes, and little girls who win spelling bees.

kansas778 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm sure Marion Jones is wishing she had followed the rules.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 10 months ago

Well, at one time it was the law that blacks had to sit at the back of the bus, but that law did not equate to justice according to many people, so it was changed. Our country has evolved by extending the rights of the constitution to those who were not first included in those rights. Some of you would love to go back to the way it was, because you somehow feel less powerful than you did before, but acting superior to others doesn't give you power. Power comes from having power over yourself and your own actions, not others.

kansas778 6 years, 10 months ago

dorothy, and today, it is the law that says discrimination will not be tolerated. Now what kind of world would it be if that law could not be relied upon?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 10 months ago

That's because we improved our laws, we evolved towards justice. That's the message of the speech. Get a clue.

BigPrune 6 years, 10 months ago

Adolph Hitler gave great speeches as well. When the crowds chant in unison for Obama, much like crowds chanted in unison for Hitler, shouldn't we question what's going on?

kansas778 6 years, 10 months ago

dorothyhr (Dorothy Hoyt-Reed) says:

That's because we improved our laws, we evolved towards justice. That's the message of the speech. Get a clue.


dorothy, I have been talking about the LTE, please take your own advice.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 10 months ago

Number 1 - Because I'm white racist whites feel free to be themselves around me, so I know for sure that some people don't rent to blacks or hire them. Could they get caught, yes, but it's not that easy to prove. Not to mention some grocery stores who deal differently with KU frat boys who steal beer (lecture), and Haskell boys who steal beer (arrest). So although laws of justice exist, they don't always prevent discrimination.

Number 2 - Obviously, you did not get my post. Power over yourself is more important than power over others. Obama's preacher probably does not yet have enough power within, since he has a hard time controlling his anger. He has some power over, because some of his congregation listen to him (if you've ever attended church, you know that only some listen). Do some black activists want to have power over whites? Probably. It's quite a theme in history that the oppressed become the oppressors. That's why everyone should study history.

Power over oneself has nothing to do with how much money you have. Money mostly gives you power over others, but how many rich people have the same or more problems with drugs and alcohol than those of us in the middle class. Money can get you power over others, but not power over yourself. Power over yourself lasts, power over others doesn't.

kansas778 6 years, 10 months ago

dorothy, I am also white, but racists have never, and will never, feel free to express any such sentiments around me.

I understand your discussion about power, I think control is a better word though. Self-control is a common expression and more readily praised and recognized for its positive qualities. My sense of your use of the word power is to mean possession of control over oneself or others.

Anyways, it seems that your main criticism of the law in this regard is that it is an inadequate remedy to prevent all injustices. On its face, that statement is true. However, my contention is that it is the most adequate remedy to prevent the majority of injustices, that other possible remedies have the unintentional consequences of creating more injustices than they solve.

The LTE talks about laws that are applied without concern for the particular injustice that following the letter of the law in that case might entail. However, what happens to the predictability of the law? If, for instance, we allow someone to get out of a contract because they made a bad bargain, and holding them to it will be a hardship on them but releasing would not be a hardship on the other party. What will that do to the ability of individuals to freely contract?

It is easy to pick scenarios like racial discrimination where we can take principled stands, but we must evaluate the concept across all areas. What happens if we disregard law in favor of righting injustices in torts cases? Certainly every medical malpractice plaintiff has an injury that is not their fault. It isn't fair that they should suffer so, and doctors have insurance for the purpose of spreading the costs of such injuries around. But we must cut off liability somewhere, we must follow the rules of law, or else we create new injustices. We all pay for medical malpractice through higher rates, and that is an injustice for the rest of us, and so it must be balanced with the injustice of the plaintiff's claim. Only by following the law can we ensure the balance of injustices here, and there is no way to remove injustice entirely from the equation.

So it comes down to worldview. I believe that all injustices cannot be removed without creating new and possibly worse injustices. The law gives us predictability and a way to manage the injustices to keep the balance so that there is the smallest amount of injustice. Others believe that all injustices can be removed through good intentions and intelligent application. I disagree.

RedwoodCoast 6 years, 10 months ago

Yo, Marion:

You seem to be afraid that Obama is going to be a pro-large government socialist. I say with every action comes an equal and opposite reaction. Big Business has corrupted the true nature of our government (and has for some time). Obama is proposing to reverse this. So if you want to rebuild the government, then it seems like you're going to need to increase its power so that Big Business just becomes business and the government becomes one of the people and not a tool of capitalistic venture.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

That Michele Obama is one sharp woman and has her head on straight. They make as nice a family as any family for the White House.

The issues are not grandma,pastors or sex. For some reason since the days of Reagan-Bush republicans have concerned themselves with others sex lives. Why voters place that above a party with a history of Iran-Contra,Savings and Loan Scandal,Sub Prime Scandal,parties supporting a lying president/illegal occupation of another country,spying on americans at will,president lying about social security http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0505orr.html and the killing or injury of at least 1,000,000 Iraq people is wayyy beyond me.

The issues it seems are: Bring all the troops home. The Iraq people know how to rebuild a country and run an oil business. Their oil is not our oil. Creating new industry that cannot be outsourced Cleaner Energy Sources National Health Insurance Dumping No Child Left Behind Restoring Rights of Americans that republicans took away Reining in the power of the President Restoring the EPA Acts that the republican wiped out Restoring the USDA to a credible agency that places consumers over special interest money Voter Rights NOT special interest rights: Campaigns go too long,spend way too much money and do not necessarily provide the best available. It is up to us to stop the nonsense at the voting booths on the 2008 ballot. Not voting sends the wrong message and changes nothing. Lets's demand a new system and vote in Fair Vote America : http://www.fairvote.org/irv/ Demand a change on the 2008 ballot. The big money candidates are more beholden than ever to corporate special interests due to the very long nature of campaigns. How do they have time to do the job they were elected to do? We need public financing of campaigns. Citizens cannot afford special interest money campaigns for it is the citizens that get left out. http://www.publicampaign.org/ Who would be against Public Funding? The special interest money providers and their bought and paid for politicians!

kansas778 6 years, 10 months ago

Merrill, I agree that special interest money is a corrupting influence over our representatives. Corporate welfare is wasteful and wrong just as much as other big government spending. However, your solution of public financing would be just as corrupting. Who would decide who got the money? Also, it is an over inclusive law to not allow private campaign funding, because it is our free speech to support our candidates of choice with donations and campaigning for them. I think the best answer is term limits. No more career politicians in Washington, who have to get re-elected over and over, and give kickbacks to the businesses in their home states. They wouldn't spend time raising money for their next campaign, but getting the job done. Also, it would provide an immediate feedback as we'd get an all new house every two years, and senate every six years, and the congressmen would be a reflection of the current wishes of the voters.

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