Thursday, September 29, 2005

The law

Do I respect the law? Well, I feel it is probably necessary to have laws to ensure that ethically challenged individuals have some compunction to stay within the lines and not endanger life and property but I'm wary of the definitive article when it comes to law.

It's not so much that I (would) pick and choose which laws I obey so much as I see them as secondary to the question at hand. I'm no more inclined to do something just because a bunch of politicians said I could - or avoid doing so because they said I couldn't - than I am to follow some Holy Law that does not sit well with my own evalation of what I feel is right and proper. In that I am exercising my rights as a free-thinking rational being, not as a citizen, a civilian, a subject, or a creation of God.

I may have other forms of existence, but this is the only time I get to be me in this epoch, on this plane of existence, and I'm not giving that up for anybody.

Now lovers of "the law" may find this irresponsible but consider these laws, from the last four centuries:

  • October 1705
    Chap. XLII.
    An act for establishing ports and towns.
    WHEREAS her most sacred majesty, Queen Anne, out of her princely care of this her colony and dominion of Virginia, by instructions to his excellency Edward Nott, Esq. her majestys lieutenant governor- generall here, has been pleased to take notice that the building of towns, warehouses, wharfs and keys, for the more expeditious lading and unlading of ships at proper places in this colony, exclusive of others, will be particularly usefull and serviceable to her majesty, in bringing our people to a more regular settlement and of great advantage to trade, and has therefore caused it to be recommended by her said governor to this generall assembly to pass an act for that purpose, suitable to the interests and conveniencys of this colony,

    Be it therefore enacted, by the Governor, Council, and Burgesses of this present General Assembly, and it is hereby enacted, by the authority of the same, That from and after the twenty-fifth day of December, which shall be in the year of our Lord 1708, all goods, wares and merchandises which shall be imported into this colony by water (servants, slaves and salt, excepted) shall be entered, allowed and landed at some one or other of the ports, wharfs, keys or places hereafter mentioned and appointed in this act, and at none other place whatsoever,


    Page 405
    until they shall have been first landed at one of the ports or wharfs aforesaid, and a certificate thereof obtained from the officer of the port, appointed or to be appointed by his excellency the governor or the governor and commander in chief of this colony for the time being, by advice of the councill of state here for collection of the Virginia dutys, upon pain of forfeiture and loss of all such goods, wares and merchandises.

    And be it also enacted, That from and after the said twenty-fifth day of December, 1708, all servants, slaves and salt, which shall be imported into this colony by water, shall be reported and entered at some one or other of the ports, wharfs, keys or places by this act appointed as aforesaid, and a certificate thereof obtained as aforesaid, before they shall be landed, bought or sold, upon pain of forfeiture and loss of every such servant and slave so landed, sold, or put to sale.
  • Louisiana Purchase timeline
  • One hundred years of French secularism
  • even in 2005

Do you obey the laws concerning the servants, slaves and salt? Do you envy a secular state proud of the fact? Do you respect a site that researches Islamic law as it applies in the Maldives? This is a small sample of the plurality of law. So much is a product of culture, of religious belief, of the era in which the legislation is framed. It must be possible to have understandings about the ban on killing and stealing, for example, that lie outside the legal priorities of one governing body. Or perhaps not. There's a reason we have a blanket law against jaywalking even if we observe to ourselves that we will only cross if it doesn't involve a motorist braking suddenly or swerving to avoid us.


At 10:11 am , Blogger Sherry Pasquarello said...

as we said in the 60's,back in the day, "right on!" (and yes, we did say that, a lot, maybe too much, geez, i'm old! )


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