A Breach of Good Faith

I need to get this off my chest so I can move on. I need my clarity back, my peace of mind, my love for other humans and especially for my fellow Americans. I need to tell you what I think and I won’t mince words.

I am angry with many of you. I love you, I wish you no misfortune – though misfortune is certainly coming for you – but I’m pissed off.

This is not complicated and it’s not a matter of opinion. America is built on a set of simple principles; they’re not all that unique, either. Every American has a moral duty to protect these rights and values, because our people have died to secure and protect them for us.

Liberty and Justice for All

This is in our Pledge of Allegiance. Not liberty and justice for me, and my fellow white males; for all. Everybody, no exceptions. Muslim Americans, LGBTQ Americans, female Americans, Mexican Americans, African Americans, Native Americans, all get exactly the same amount of liberty and justice.

Freedom of Religion – The First Amendment.

Also known as The Separation of Church and State, It doesn’t mean freedom to Be Christian but not Muslim. It means any religion or no religion. Religion is not established or prohibited in this country. Religion may never be a principle in our laws or our public policies.

Freedom of The Press – First Amendment.

“The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.” – James Madison’s original draft of the First Amendment

Freedom to Protest – First Amendment.

The right of the people peaceably to assemble.

Equal protection and due process of the law. Fourteenth Amendment.

All laws must treat everyone equally, and none of our rights or privileges may be taken away without due process.

When Donald Trump was campaigning, he broke and promised to keep breaking every one of those principles. He promised to treat Muslims differently, he attacked the press in social media and did that again today. He had people thrown out of his rallies for trying to speak, and encouraged his thugs (supporters) to assault them. He belittled the disabled.  He’s attacked people on the basis of gender, disability, race. He’s even attacked our military and our veterans.

I won’t even start on how he thinks about and treats women.

Why is this your fault?

Because when we have any election, whether it’s for president of the US or president of the local sewer district, we owe each other good faith. That means every voter decides according to his or her conscience, based on what they believe – in good faith – is best for the nation or the town. Not according to their personal interests, but in the interests of the community and the future, considering the children. Right?

We’re supposed to find people who have the experience, willingness, and conscience to do good work for everyone, and nominate them to be of service.

And a president is supposed to preside, not rule. He – or she! – is supposed to lead the people, empower their best values and ideas – and continually make the nation better for everyone. Trump just wants to rule. We fought a war 240 years ago to free ourselves from rulers, for God’s sake!

If you vote for someone you know is a threat to the rights of your fellow Americans – even if you believe he’s not a threat to you – are you keeping that faith or breaking it?

If you voted for Trump because he claims to be Christian (he’s not) and you hate Muslims, you broke faith with your nation. Muslim Americans have the same rights you have, and you had a duty to defend those rights when you voted.

If you call yourself a Christian and you voted for Trump and Pence, shame on you! This was no ordinary election and you know it. This was a locomotive of real evil, pulling a long train of hate speech and lies, and you knew it all along. How is that not a sin?

If you voted for Trump and Pence knowing their policies might be a threat to any of your fellow Americans based on their age, sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation, then you broke faith with your neighbors and your nation.

If you were eligible to vote and you just couldn’t be bothered to get up off your fat ass and even mail a ballot, then you broke faith too. In fact, maybe far worse.

If you voted for evil or failed to vote against it, you’ve failed your friends and neighbors, you failed to keep faith with our troops and our veterans, you’ve desecrated our flag and the nation for which it stands.

But we still love you. And when you’re ready to ask for forgiveness, let us know.

The Tables

So if I’m picking up the signals, conservatives are claiming that the man killed by cops in the Oregon standoff was trying to surrender. Witnesses say that’s a lie. Liberals claim the cops’ shooting was justified.

Two thoughts:

When did support for flagrant rebellion against the Establishment become conservative, and support for law enforcement become liberal? Haven’t the tables turned in some insane way?

This word, conservative: I do not think it means what you think it means.

It’s a Tribal Thing

I’d like to take just a few lines to acknowledge the Jerry Sandusky – Penn State child molestation scandal. If you’ve had enough of the topic, skip on.

I have seen some remarks to the effect that Joe Paterno and the University President shouldn’t have been fired because they reported their suspicious to others, thus meeting their legally mandated duties. And remarks to the same effect that the assistant coach now on leave reported what he witnessed to his boss.

I’m going to have to call bullshit here.

This isn’t about law, it’s about a moral imperative. More obviously, it’s about biology. Watch any herd of elephants or pack of wolves and you’ll see the adults protect the young until they grow enough to fend for themselves. That happens when a predator of another species attacks or one of their own kind goes rogue.

This group of men in Pennsylvania knew that one of their own was preying on children and they failed to stop him. There’s no exculpation, no excuse. That they and all similarly situated should be punished for their failure to protect the young is more than a matter of justice; it’s imperative that we all learn from it.

Put another way, any grown man – or woman – who won’t do everything needful to save kids from being hurt is worthless to the tribe.

Posted in law

Doing the Duty

Back in July, I received a summons for jury duty. Since the date they originally wanted my service clashed directly with an important family event – specifically, the all-to-rare opportunity to spend time with my non-local family – I sought and received a deferment. Hard to believe it’s been 90 days, but my time is up.

I’m willing to serve. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a civic duty. An important function, but for which chaos would reign. If I had a damn good reason to avail myself of the court, I hope others would feel the same. But that’s only because we haven’t devised a better way to do the duty juries do.

I think jury duty belies an interesting cultural paradox. On one hand, it reflects some of the highest and best ideals of a civilization that is trying hard to leave behind its reverence for, and dependence on, authoritarianism. We no longer rely on the king or the nearest convenient duke or church official to decide what’s true and fair. The good is judged by the people, in whom is vested wisdom and power, as it right. Or at least better.

On the other hand, the impulse to resort to the intervention of third parties to resolve disputes and try the facts shows that personal responsibility is still not ingrained in us. We know the truth and what’s best and what’s fair. Especially the guys who wear the suits and go to the courthouse to work, they know. We’ve all known, since we learned to use the bathroom by ourselves:

  • Don’t take what’s not yours. 
  • Don’t take more than your share. 
  • There’s a place for your stuff, keep it there. 
  • Don’t make messes for others to clean up. 
  • Don’t hurt others. 
  • Admit your mistakes.

If wisdom is invested in 12 of us, why isn’t it found more often in two of us who argue, or one of us who damn well knows better than to commit a crime?  If the cosmos of the town is tested true, how can its microcosm be so stupid?

Of course we have a right to a trial. We have the right to gather the neighbors and ask for their help in resolving disputes, as much as their help in putting out a fire or searching for a lost child. We live together in tribes and camps because we need each other. I’m just saying the courthouse should be the last resort.

A few years ago, I couldn’t write these thoughts and share them publicly without the aid of a local newspaper. Now my little essay is global in seconds. That is as much a social advance as a technological one. We have opened the means to publish to everyone, essentially free gratis. So it seems strange to me that a society that has amassed the insights of the ages and put it all within reach of our fingertips still sustains litigation as a common public institution. I mean, we’ve been doing the same thing for hundreds of years. Are we learning anything?

In law school, we were taught that most of a litigation lawyer’s job – and a criminal attorney’s too – is negotiation. Nobody really wants to wind up in court, if they can bargain, arbitrate, reach an accord and satisfaction, or somehow find a concilliatory common ground. Because only one of the lawyers is going to leave the courthouse with a smile, and neither of the parties ever will. The process simply sucks, and everybody pays.

If that’s true, why does every court have hundreds of people on jury standby at all times? What systemic FAIL is intractably repeating itself across the country every week?

I can’t help but think that if the convocation of the worthies was a last resort – and not a tool of leverage and rhetoric, too often somewhat mercenary – then a standing army of jurors would be on its way to being as obsolete as the horse and buggy or the floppy disc.

Of course, we still think war solves something, so there you go.    

Incidentally, I just called the courthouse number and I don’t have to show up on Monday. I call again Monday night, and we go from there.  Wherefore, let us all as of one mind squint our eyes, like Lady Justice behind her blindfold, and give another big push toward trying to evolve.