Letter of the law

I have no argument about who won the seats in Bodden Town, but I do need someone to explain to me and the rest of the country exactly why we are being asked to make an exception to the law for two people who may not have followed the constitutional requirements. (I do not know precisely what they did wrong and why, so help me out again if I missed it in the paper.)

If, indeed, they did fail to follow all constitutional requirements, then we must consider that anything that these men do as legislators may be contested. No law whose passage depends on them will be legally enforceable if someone chooses to break it. This is not a minor matter. These men affect decisions that regulate all of the country, all of the people living here, not just Bodden Town, not just the citizens, but everyone who steps foot within our borders or who negotiates business here. Our elected officials control our lives, they can, if they are moral and intelligent, lead this country toward continued prosperity, health and well being, or they can, if corrupt and/or stupid lead us down the drain as many countries around us are finding out.

We have laws that must be followed, but on occasion we decide to break them for emergencies. I may have to speed to get someone to the hospital to save his life. I may be forgiven the offence, but it is not for me alone to decide when I can break that law. I cannot just speed because I am late for work. Where to we draw the line?

In a case of the legality of the election of a representative, it is not up to just one jurisdiction to make that decision. It must be investigated and decided upon by an authority that represents everyone involved. In this case, it is the entire nation–all three Islands. Who has that authority? I would assume that it is the governor and the Attorney General? How far can they condone twisting the rules? This is a dangerous precedent. Sometimes we have to live with the letter of the law even when it seems to hurt everyone, even when it is inconvenient, and even when it is expensive. The only way we can avoid the misery of countries that started breaking their own laws is to make sure that we don’t take that first step, no matter what. In the famous story of King Arthur, he had to have his wife executed, and although it broke his heart, he showed his country that the law must be followed. We cannot teach our children that it is OK to ignore it when it is painful to obey.

We must be ready for whatever decision is agreed upon by those who can legally make that decision.

Cathy Church

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