I might be old, sitting here scratching my head in disbelief. I might be naïve and a dreamer, and I may be the last scrupulous person on the planet, but I have to throw the question out there: Since when are laws not to be obeyed?
The recent kerfuffle over the damned-if-you-do damned-if-you-don’t immigration legislation recently passed in Arizona is just the latest example of how some feel the need for the rules to be bent for some. Pity the poor illegal aliens, or at least that is the hue and cry of some. The truth is Arizona is under siege. When a once-benign town like Phoenix becomes the kidnapping capital of the world, it’s time to take action.
Have I missed something here? Isn’t it already a law that a person must be in the country legally? If so, why would the need to provide documentation of such be considered a racial affront?
Before the pro-illegal immigration people jump my bones, let me say right here that I’m not against immigration. Heck, my mother was an immigrant from Japan, my grandfather on my dad’s side escaped a Turkish death by coming here as a young boy from Greece, and before that were ancestors from Scotland and France. All I am saying is that if you’re going to immigrate anywhere, do it legally and get in line. I’ve seen the grind of bureaucracy up close and personal and even very recently. My daughter-in-law is also seeking resident status and I know what hoops she and my son have had to jump through in the last year.
If I travel to Canada, which is just a short car ride away, I must carry my passport. If I decide to jet off to Cancun (yeah… right) for a quick weekend, I must also carry my passport. If I run a red light in Windsor or cook a hot dog by the side of the road in Puesta del Sol and get pulled over and/or questioned, I must show my passport to the powers that be. If I go to Canada or Mexico and do not have my passport on my person – thus not being able to prove who I am and what I am doing in a foreign country – I can be detained and even incarcerated. I can tell you from personal experience that Canadian law enforcement and immigration have no sense of humor when it comes to misplaced documents. I have no problem with showing my original Department of Defense birth certificate, all of the passports I’ve held since age one and a half, or my recently issued Department of State birth certificate (replacing the tattered DOD document that is over 50 years old) to either foreign law enforcement or the home-grown type. This is because I’m a law abiding citizen.
Let’s move away from immigration to other areas of the law. Here in Detroit, the tragic story that will not die is that of Kwame Kilpatrick, former hip-hop mayor, convicted felon, and political gangster. True, he served his time. He was also fined one million dollars for his role in a scandalous cover-up that cost the city eight million, money he is loath to part with. Never mind that he moved to a rich Texas suburb and is still living large in a mansion with all of the trappings of a gazillionaire. Mr. Kilpatrick has had to be dragged back to court every couple of months because of his non-compliance. He thinks he is above the law, and many people here in Detroit think we should give the man a million dollar pass. They boo-hoo about his “poor” children having to suffer the indignities of being the spawn of Mr. Kilpatrick. If I were them, I’d feel pretty embarrassed too.
While I feel sorry for the kids (not so for Mr. or Mrs. Kilpatrick), there is a huge difference between me and Kwame – I’d still be in jail and the City of Detroit would be raking me over the coals to get to the cash, penny by measly penny.
Let’s now mosey over to the hi-jinx in our Congress. I will not finger-point at one party or the other, but we’ve got senators taking sweetheart deals for mortgages, money changing hands, the votes of our representatives being bought and sold. As a citizen, it’s against the law for me to sell my vote, but not so in the halls of Congress. In any other venue, bribery would be considered a crime, but if you are orbiting the political sphere you have nothing to fear. Politicians seem to be coated with a slimy ooze of invulnerability to protect them from prosecution and subsequent reservation at the Big House. On the other hand, if a person were to come to me and offer me money for a certificate and I complied, I could lose my license to operate and possibly serve jail time.
Then we have guys like Timothy Geithner who neglected to pay income taxes. (“Ooops! I forgot!”) I knew a person once who neglected to pay his income taxes, and the IRS was on him like white on rice. They rightly seized everything that wasn’t nailed down, including his child’s bank account. Or consider Bernie Madoff, who made off with billions of investor dollars. It was amazing to me to see a crook like him continue to live in luxury in a penthouse purchased with his ill-gotten gains while awaiting his trial. Never mind the poor retirees who suddenly had nothing left and were forced to go back to work in the twilight of their supposedly golden years. Poor Bernie is bemoaning his fate of living in his teeny-tiny cell now that he’s incarcerated. The poor guy was beat up! Didn’t he consider the ultimate outcome as he was fleecing his customers? Or did he imagine his charm would shelter him from a room in jail?
When being unethical is commonplace, the snowball rolls faster down the hill. On a smaller scale, I have heard of people who steal, but, hey, it’s okay. Just by being, Big Business steals from consumers and the Man pushes everyone’s nose into the dirt. So if you can cut out of work early or play games online or steal a few office supplies, so what? Students cheat in school, but it’s acceptable if the kid lives in the ghetto. If I don’t have it and you have it and I want it and I take it, why should anyone object? It is quite all right to react with wrong if the end result means you get what you want.
It’s the only thing I can think of that explains the free-for-all scoffing of laws.
Let’s see, there used to be something known as equal protection under the law, a clause in the 14th Amendment. When the rich and famous, the supposedly disenfranchised and deprived, and the politically connected land a Get Out of Jail Free card, the laws are no longer protecting all of us equally.
Perhaps what I’m missing is the end of civility, honor, and conscience.