Years ago, in the city where we live, my wife and I were served a court summons for property violations.
Given my father’s sign advertising his business had been unceremoniously removed from the city right-of-way and shortly thereafter destroyed and tossed in the dumpster by men driving a city truck, I was somewhat familiar with the process that normally applies when a citizen experiences the wrath of the government.
I obtained a copy of the 20-some page City Code Enforcement Policy in anticipation of my day in court.
“In the interest of expediency” – an actual statement by the powers-that-be, or that-then-were – the city justified accelerating its clean-up program, but with the consequence of both eviscerating the applicable rules and exasperating those affected.
With the court summons in hand, and a copy of the Code Enforcement Policy, and my written defense prepared, I went to court.
The courtroom was packed, ironically, with my neighbors. It was evidently community day in court. All had been summoned to state their case and those who did not, because they could not afford the time off work, simply paid the fine.
The good news: every single case that morning was tossed. The reason? The city had not followed its own procedure.
The bad news: it happens more often than we may realize.
“We are living in a time when blurry is the new normal,” wrote Rob Schwarzwalder in the April 22, 2017 LifeSite. His article is entitled “With moral confusion as the new normal, here’s what could be coming next.”
When rules change, or are not fairly – but rather arbitrarily – applied, confusion, chaos, or even worse – compliance – ensues.
Worst is compliance because those who made the rules, in charge of equitably and fairly enforcing the rules, now exert further and undue control by rules that change as the circumstances prove favorable – regardless of any principle that might have been sacrificed in the process.