What? The Right opposes law and order?

Does society have a right to institute rules and laws to protect its citizens from preventable harm?

Self-evident, isn’t it?

Mayor Kenney prays people will obey the rules. (Photo: Inquirer)

Especially in democracies where the laws are written by representatives of the people. Are we on the same page so far? Is this something both liberals and conservatives agree on — the rule of law?

Don’t get ahead of me. Both sides will say, yeah, but what about unjust laws?

When there is a question about the legitimacy of a law, there are two remedies.

First, the courts, which provide a check on the legislative branch.

Second, the legislature. If Congress passes a law with flaws, Congress can undo its mistake. (Civil disobedience, deliberately breaking the law, is a possible remedy, but that winds up in the courts.)

Penalties for breaking the law must be reasonable. You shouldn’t send someone to jail for 20 years for stealing a loaf of bread. (You’re welcome, fans of Les Miserables.)

Let’s switch to current-day Philadelphia.

Mayor Jim Kenney last week increased fines on violators of the city’s COVID-19 health orders, such as masks in public, and no congregating. The $300 fine has been shelved. Here’s what we have now:

Business. The penalty for violating regulations is now $2,000 per incident.

Individuals. $500 per violation.

Enforcement officers, Kenney said, will be authorized to reduce the fines, from $2,000 to $700, and from $500 to $250. Huh? Is this Discount City?

Two predictions here. The regular fine is so high cops won’t write them. The city may have realized that, and put in place the on-the-spot discounts. 

Second, there will be charges of discrimination when some people get the discount and others don’t.

The mayor’s office says people who see rules being violated can call 311 or tweet @philly311.

And that’s where this thing becomes a controversy. Various municipalities have asked citizens to report wrong doers.

As I’ve noted before, there was a knee jerk response to this as if reporting was a hat tip to the Gestapo, the German Stasi, the KGB, or the Chinese Communist secret police. They were called snitch lines.

Is that fair? Not one example of neighborly tattling is a democratic society.

The pushback against whistle-blowing is especially strong on right-wing talk radio. Suddenly, the Right has become limp-wristed enablers. Wow.

Here’s how I lay out the issue: Face masks are to protect others, so when you do not wear a face mask, you are putting me at risk. When you spread the pandemic you put others at risk. Where do you get the nerve?

Worse, there were several cases where some jokers spat on food in groceries, or at cops. They were arrested and some on the Right carried on as if their rights had been cancelled.


How different is this from telling people, “If you see something, say something,” in this age of terror?  Is that snitching, too? How about dialing 911 if you see a burglary in progress?

I can’t prove this, but I will bet every person who hates the so-called snitch line also screams bloody murder at the ghetto “no snitching” credo that punishes those who help police solve a crime.

And please hold Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death.”

You have your liberty. I do not want avoidable death.

19 thoughts on “What? The Right opposes law and order?”

  1. That guy, who violated his oath of office as soon as he was sworn in by signing an executive order supporting sanctuary cities . That Guy . That does not keep us safe anyway , we are supposed to take his advice . My friend Jim O’Connor is dead because of that guy . I have no respect for that guy . He blew another billion dollars in the last four years , and wants more . No one holds him accountable , he gets a pass on crime on the budget, , and city council are a bunch of sheep . David OH is the first no vote on the 5 billion dollar city budget since 1999. I have no respect for any of them. My friend is dead , because of that guy. Mark

  2. The key section of your opinion piece is the part about the courts being in place to keep the scales balanced. Does the executive branch have the authority to put into place (by LAW) systems and controls to benefit the whole? Yes, but (as always) subject to the judicial branch determining if the LAWS are (a) constitutional and/or (b) just. Now, I really hate to bring Herr Hitler into this discussion, but it is important to realize his first action when taking power was to subvert the LAW. He put into place horrible (in hindsight) LAWS and then made sure the courts were as bad as the LAWS. Ergo, when Hitler’s LAWS were enforced, they were (by his twisted logic) legal orders. You know where those German LAWS took his nation and the world. So…I simply want to ask the courts: is it legal to close SOME businesses, but not all? (LAWS, by our Constitution, may not discriminate.) Is it Constitutional to tell American citizens they cannot peaceably assemble? There are myriad questions about actions taken by the Executive branch at the federal and state (and even city) level that the SCOTUS has been eerily silent about. You may have noticed: people are getting irritated by the infringement on their liberties. So…I am asking ‘Is the cure worse than the disease?’

    1. Always bad to reference Hitler and as noted, Germany was not a real democracy. Apples and oranges. Or as Trump would say, origins.

      1. My point (which you apparently missed) was, he who controls the courts controls the law. I could have used Il Duce, or Papa Doc, or Sadaam, but Adolf is better known. And we are a democracy, but the courts have been silent. Did you miss my point only because of the reference to you-know-who?

    ( just got back from Lancaster County, stimulating the economy )
    Interesting topic Stu, as always. Bring back the good old days, when you would sit with a few friends, drink bourbon and smoke a cigar.
    The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is about to go before the Supreme Court. They have several challenges now, as do other states. The suits are just as you are describing. Is it legal to close one store, but not another? Is it okay to close some churches, not all? I think anybody with a half of brain will say no to both.
    I believe that the problems originated when the Feds, then the states arbitrarily shut down everything. They did it for the good of all. This is a war, remember and wars need quick decisions followed by even more, quick responses.
    Because the advisers didn’t really study law (constitution), the problems multiplied. But rather than look back and correct the mistakes, they play “let’s slowly open some stores”. It only takes one good lawyer to say,”no way Jose”.
    As for Mayor Jim and Gov. Tom. What else do you expect ?

      1. I am getting ready to order two of them. One for me and one for my son.

    1. Tony, did you bring back any Shoofly Pie? I have not had that in quite a few years.

  4. The other problem that you all missed is the politics of the court. To go through the system, you need bucks. Lawyers that argue at the higher level, charge very big bucks. General Flynn’s lawyers are just a tad more than the guy on the corner that does divorces. Look at the 9th circuit. Lose there ( you will) and your next stop is Washington D.C.. SCOTUS

  5. Dont tell anyone but my son and I have plans for Mothers Day. 🤫

    If they had an emoji flippin’ the bird guess who it would go to? Oh, found it.🖕I think?? And one for🖕and🖕

    1. Tom, enjoy yourselves and stay safe. (Even if one of the flipping the birds was meant for me.) LOL

  6. Dear Stu,

    Good idea basically to defend the rule of law. What we are doing, though, is dealing with an emergency situation. The Governor does have emergency powers, and I think he has done a good job with the crisis. Whether his emergency powers exactly cover the measures adopted I couldn’t say. People went along with the restrictions because they understood the dangers to the public. It has chiefly been voluntary. But the felt dangers in the public mind seem to be diminished of late –whether correctly or not. The public is getting restless.

    Frankly, I don’t know how you can stand to listen to right-wing radio. If I did happen to come across that sort of thing, I’m sure I would take it with more than a grain of salt. We have entirely too much broadcast ideology in this country. I don’t think much of these guys showing up at protests at the state capitols carrying guns either. But these things are symptoms.

    Its a symptom of the general divisiveness in the country. Many people obviously think they have been long ignored, while their jobs were being shipped out overseas. In the background is that we simply have a lot of defiance in this country. “Don’t tell me what to do,” and “Who do you think you are?” etc. Without the divisiveness and defiance, we’d have little chance of understanding how Trump got into the White House. Who could have believed it?

    On the other hand, I suspect that without all those defiant folks out there, and it seems there are more of them the further West you go, we wouldn’t have much chance of running a democracy on a continental scale. Look at the other existing examples of continental scale societies with large populations, say Russia and China.

    In the end, though, mass democracy possible because of the rule of law and the willingness of the people to accept the rule of law.

      1. Yes, Stu, I agree H.G. Callaway’s comments are thoughtful and balanced.

        H.G., you brought up right-wing-radio and I would briefly like to address my thoughts. I started listening locally on WWDB, early 80’s. I see it as a counter to left, liberal-wing-television. Also the print media. Both right and left ideological. No doubt today, both drifting further their opposite ways, regrettably. One other note. Trump IMOP is the counter to Obama. Which the more divisive depends on who’s opining.

  7. “The best way to change a bad law is by its rigorous enforcement.” — Anon.

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