Those words were spoken by New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. in response to the recent arrest of a citizen carrying a gun, a story that has been prominent here for a few days. It is important to understand what the Mayor said.
We have always been a country of laws. It is how we conduct our lives. It forms the parameters of our dealings with each other and with our government. From those laws, we know what we can and cannot do. To suggest, as the Mayor does, that our laws can be ignored in the name of “rightness” fosters two separate concepts.
The first, tells our citizens that laws can, and in some cases perhaps, should be ignored.
But, we have a procedure for that in this country. It is called amending our laws via our duly constituted legislatures, and within the confines of our constitution. Ignoring a law in the name of “rightness” is not an option.
The second is even more insidious.
What is “right”, and who defines it?
If not our legisltures, than who? Does it change from day to day, mayor to mayor, president to president? Is it something so elastic that, over time, “right” simply becomes whatever those in power deem it to be? And, how will we know what is “right” if we cannot count on our laws to establish that for us?
This is the beginning of the gradual road to anarchy.
Laws will be followed until they become inconvenient. Then “right” will take over…whatever that may be.