Politics And Life

I’m not sure if, at the age of 54, I can officially consider myself “old.” I’m not even sure there is any kind of “official” definition. I know that—though the age has “moved up” in my lifetime many places—I am eligible at some venues, for the “senior discount.” Maybe that’s old, maybe not, I’ll leave it to the reader to reach his or her own conclusion.

What I believe I can say, is that half a century plus of living has allowed me to see a good many things about humanity.

The result of this fact, is that I have become more and more prone to eschew considering strongly—much less speaking about—a variety of subjects. Don’t misunderstand me, I have my own (typically rather entrenched) opinions on the subjects in question.

Politics would be very much among these, were it not for the potentially devastating effects of political activities on the very simplest of human endeavors. I think it obvious that, if the least such activities are potentially so ill affected, the more significant and important ones are so to an even greater extent.

The result is, though I would like to entirely ignore things political in nature, I find myself entirely unable to do so.

That’s not to say that my attitude and actions regarding politics has changed substantially. It just means that I must take the time to address things with which I would certainly prefer not to deal.

The single most significant cause for my need to speak out is that laws are enacted, executed and adjudged as a result of the political process. These laws—when allowed to accomplish their intent unquestioned—often result in anything from mildly unfortunate to massively disastrous outcomes.

That’s not to say there is no such thing as a benign or even potentially beneficial law. I will say though, that this appears to me to be far from the “norm.” And what makes this more the case than the original intent of the ordinances in question, is the “law of unintended consequences.” Put another way, laws, rules, ordinances and regulations are often written with very particular ends in mind, that does not mean, the resultant “use” for them is what was by any means intended.

Every moment, somebody finds him or her self in the back of a squad car, in a courtroom, or a jail cell as a result of the misapplication of some rule somewhere. This happens in every society, it is not exclusive to one or another as far as I’m able to tell.

This means that each and every person in a given society, can expect to be affected by the outcomes of the various political processes that occur around that person, regardless his or her involvement in the aforementioned processes.

Much of the time, if one has standards of his or her own, and most particularly if those standards are relatively high, one can all but ignore the results of the political process—or at least, this has been the case in times past.

I say that because more recently, at least here in the United States, there has been a tendency towards doing things in ways which previously, would have been considered entirely unacceptable.

One example of this relates to a legal concept commonly known as the “presumption of innocence.”

In this country, it has been common that, if a person is accused of a given crime, he or she was presumed innocent. The onus—the burden of proof—was on the accuser, not the accused. More and more, it seems as though this concept is being abandoned. What makes the abandonment more insidious, is the fact that it appears to be dropped inconsistently.

This appears to particularly be true in those who affect the political process, but it happens to others as well. For the others, it can be one of a variety of things—often largely unknowable—that the presumption of innocence is “dropped.”

In the arena of politics, it tends to be a great deal more predictable. Most of the time, if a person is “in the same party” as those who might be weighing accusations, he or she is more likely to be presumed innocent (if not “be given a pass” and have the entire allegation ignored).

This gets to the patent ignorance of another precept found in U.S. Jurisprudence, that being the concept of “equal protection under the law.” When one person is presumed innocent and another guilty based on things immaterial to the accusation (like politics), it begins to appear that the pulse of the concept of equal protection is weak to the point of threadiness.

I am a person who believes himself ill equipped to judge the guilt or innocence of others, as such, I pretty much always “err on the side of caution” come to accusations. In my view, we’re all guilty (of something at the least). As such, I too bear the burden of guilt.

My desire is that others treat me with the same grace I would like to think I apply to others. As such, when people fail to apply the standard of innocence until guilt is proven, I see a major problem in their actions.

It doesn’t help that the original concept was put in place because it’s much harder to prove innocence than it is to prove guilt.

Regardless its cause, inequity in judgement is a bad thing. Where it exists, if the political process is to be trusted, such errors in the process must be fixed inasmuch as it is possible so to do.

In my humble opinion, the place to start fixing such issues, is in starting with the presumption of innocence—no matter how heinous or evil the supposed or alleged crime being reviewed.

A large part of this can be “dealt with” by each person refusing to accept the “judicial results of the court of public opinion.”

The next step, it seems to me, is for us to stop assuming that, looking from the outside, we have a complete or correct understanding of what has happened.

Okay, here I am at my “word limit.” As such, I should leave things at this point, where you now find them. Allow me to wish you the best of times, and thank you for reading.

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