From the archives of my hard drive (still relevant):
“The King mutters … to himself. He then proclaims a rule from a book he is holding; rule number 42 states that all people who are more than a mile tall must leave the court. Alice refuses to leave on the grounds that she is not a mile high, and also because she says the king just made that rule up to get her to leave. The King claims that the mile-high height limit is the oldest rule in the book, but Alice boldly retorts that the oldest rule would be rule number one. This is too much for the King and he tells the jury to consider their verdict.” (Alice in Wonderland, Chapter 12: Alice’s Evidence).
Of course, as the story goes, this is before the evidence has yet been presented.
I mention this clever snippet from Lewis Carroll’s fascinating journey into the human psyche because it reminds me so much of what is happening to our basic inclination towards justice these days.
For the longest time, people of good will and sound mind have defended a man’s innocence until he is proven guilty, most assuredly that is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Our innocence and the protection thereof are the bedrocks of civilized society.
The need for sensitive jurisprudence can even be found in the Bible, in Deuteronomy, when Moses proclaims that the Israelite judges should “Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother and the stranger that is with him.” Deut. Chapter 1:17.
In other words, this sound legal instrument has served mankind well since the dawn of awareness. Fast forward to the year of our Lord 2010 and examine the great issues of the day where we are now declared guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt in the court of public opinion without even a jury of a deck of cards.
For example: Seven million people in the State of California cast legitimate votes favoring the definition of marriage between one man and one woman –Guilty — of homophobia. The law is struck down by one federal judge with a personal agenda, and so the will of the people is silenced.
Arizona law mirrors federal law in an attempt to secure our borders against illegal foreign invasion — Guilty — of racial profiling. Enforcement is blocked by an administration seemingly unsympathetic to a legitimate national security threat.
A majority of Americans do not want a mosque built at ground zero — Guilty — of denying first amendment rights. This is without considering our national grief or our moral sensibilities or the fact that this is a historical construction tradition upon a point of conquest.
And, closer to home, what about those folks who prefer to keep the hard earned fruits of their labor in their own pocketbooks instead of in the taxman’s coffers or the politico’s war chest — Guilty — Uncaring, unconcerned, uncommitted to the advancement of (you fill in the blank for the issue of the moment: Children, libraries, home values, poor people, old people, safe streets, parks, museums, fairs, Washington insiders). The list of issues that you should be ashamed of yourself for not supporting is as endless as the requests for taxes or retributions or contributions or revenue enhancements or commitments or condemnations. You name it — no matter what it is called — you must be guilty of it.
But Alice was right; she wasn’t a mile tall and the oldest rule in the book should be number one. We should strive to protect and promote our brother’s innocence and for that matter, we need no King.
Janice L. Daniels of Troy is an Oakland County businesswoman and a political activist.