Wednesday 21 June 2006

Making an ass of the law

The law of the ass

Not long ago, I had the temerity to take opposing view with a “soon” to be Doctor of Laws on the topic – the law is an ass.

In fact, I presented a number of perspectives that kept me convinced of that view that despite the brilliance of the counter argument, I would not have been entirely convinced as a member of a jury.

That is however beside the point; my concern is when this question exercises much in the delivery of fairness and justice some people go out of their way to make an ass of the law.

Nowhere is this so agitated than when some see some political, populist or stupid advantage to be gained from promulgating laws that leave judges in a quandary.

The ass in the eyes

The political if not populist can be seen in the way George Bush has been advocating the constitutional banning of gay marriage – it would be interesting to see if a penalty would ensue if Americans do decide to have a same-sex marriage and demand certain rights of partnership.

Besides, for those who have legally tied the knot, it would be a travesty to backdate or annul a union that once really had a legal basis.

Some judge would have to sit in hearing arguments of points of law that examine the intricacies of partners and more unspeakable talk unworthy of polite conversation as opposing ends interpret a statute of expediency create to galvanise a political base.

The ass in the mouth

The populist brings us back home in the Netherlands where the cabinet has finally caved in to the proposal which requires all naturalised Dutch citizens to prove their understanding of the norms and values of the Dutch through formal examination.

This is really a poor and sad time to elect to be Dutch for whatever reasons, the events of the past few months and the actions of the populist right-wing Minister of Integration and Immigration provide ample proof of this unfortunate development.

Somehow, some judge would have to sit in hearing cases where a long term naturalised Dutch citizen challenges the effrontery of subjecting their loyalties to such unnecessary and demeaning scrutiny.

A naturalised citizen should not have to go through this humiliation to want to be Dutch, fine in the application process but not after it has been granted – the implication being the natural born Dutch are more aware of these norms and values. Well …

The ass of an ass

In the UK, the tabloids have hijacked the voice of reason for the purpose of having the names and addresses of released paedophiles published for parental awareness. Now in a society where reason, law and order prevail, this should not be a problem.

However, not 5 years ago, the tabloids published names and addresses when lead to vigilante attacks on innocent persons whose names were confused with others.

The UK is just not mature enough for the revelation of such information; what is required is a comprehensive monitoring and tagging process and well and probationary and community support to ensure that convicted paedophiles are properly monitored and children are safe from predators.

Sarah’s Law which is to clone a similar existing US law called Megan’s Law is being pushed for consideration and the tabloids would probably get this done.

The ass with no legs

It appears everywhere you find a US Embassy or Consulate, it is surrounded by an Iron Curtain that restrains people from approaching, exercises a cordon of inconvenience as demands are made for perimeter security. Rather the separator of the freedom to demonstrate from the symbol of freedom – new definition of Iron Curtain – be it physical, legal or extra-judicial.

Now, a legal position is about to be contested as the prosecution service in the Netherlands wants the US Embassy to be protected from protesters who could be asked for their identity cards when in fact there is no just cause. [1]

Asking for the identification cards of demonstrators in front of an embassy in a free and democratic country is really tantamount to stifling free speech and freedom of association.

Rather than the prosecution service seeking a blanket remit concerning the all consulates, they are seeking a special dispensation for the US Embassy.

The dog of an ass

In this day and age, it might be a reasonable request, but it is also an exceptional request that makes one wonder why the embassy of the leader of the free world has become one that needs more protection than those of Bantustans or some other country.

The reasonableness of this is lost in the “me too” mentality that governs the sometime little nation psyche that consumes the self-assuredness of this government such that their participation in events of global significance looks like making up the numbers rather playing our part.

A real ass of the law

There might be benefits in being a friend of the playground bully, but eventually, when the bully is away, whose friend would you be?

So, in appealing a decision that maintained the freedom of speech and association on the premise of the US Embassy being an exception, as ass is being made of the law. Alas!

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