Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Unenforcible Law

Imagine a situation analogous to the following:
Four people share the apartment and the single bathroom. Caleb is the main person since his name is on the lease. John, Ted and Bill pay a share of the monthly rent. The bathroom needs cleaning. It's in appalling condition.

At the beginning they all agreed to perform specific duties, but four months in and it is becoming painfully clear that Caleb is not holding up his share of the agreed to bargain. He's done nothing to clean the bathroom and it both shows and smells---smells to the point it's polluting the whole apartment. The first thing anyone who enters the apartment becomes strikingly aware of is the stench permeating the air.

After four months of neglect Ted decides he's had it. He gets a mop, bucket and some Comet and Lysol and heads for the bathroom, only to be stopped on the way by Caleb.

Caleb asks him in a aggressive tone, "What the Hell do you think you're doing?"
Ted responds, "I'm going to clean the bathroom. It stinks to high heaven!"
Caleb fires back, "That's my job. We have an agreement. Remember? You signed it!"
"But you're not doing it!"
"No, and I'm not going to, " answered Caleb, "and neither are you. It's my apartment. I'm the guy whose name is on the lease, and I decide what goes on. If you don't like it, you can just get the Hell out."

Ted and the others are upset but feel powerless to do anything. After all, they had an agreement Caleb insisted they live up to---even though Caleb seems to not see his obligation to do likewise. When they remind him his response was that he agreed to be the one to clean the bathroom, but nothing in the agreement said when, how often or how thoroughly he would do it---if at all.

So we have a horrible situation in the apartment---a dangerous one as well, since sickness and disease follow fast on the heels of unsanitary conditions. Soon, all the people in the apartment, including Caleb, are feeling the effects of declining health. Still, Caleb holds his position fast. He insists upon refusing to act on the rule but denies all others the liberty to so in his stead.

The situation is intolerable. Soon the situation devolves into hostility and violence breaks out.

Such is the consequence when those in authority who persist in anarchic behavior and refuse to perform their duties. The consequence of lawlessness is unavoidable, and it matters not whether the practitioners are rulers in seats of authority or whether they are on the fringes of society––the results are the same: injustice and violence.

That such will happen is a foregone conclusion. If it will happen cannot be doubted. The only question remaining is when it will happen and on what initial scale.

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