Law must be respected, not undermined

Our society has a love-hate relationship with one of the founding principles of our country: the rule of law.

We expect the police to protect us from harm, but we have adopted a mentality that the only laws worth abiding by are the ones we agree with.

This mentality pervades even American River College and the surrounding community, which faces traffic in narcotics, armed robberies, and rape.

Instead, we should be citizens who help, not hinder, law and order in society.

A case in point that spotlights this love-hate relationship is the reaction around the nation to recent events in Ferguson, Mo.

While protesters from New York City to Berkeley, Calif. bemoaned what they thought was a lack of justice in a grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, rioters destroyed businesses, burned down property, and threatened lives.

These rioters were defended by those who should know better.

Darlena Cunha, writing for Time magazine, asked “Is rioting so wrong?”

“Protesting is a luxury of those already in mainstream culture, those who can be assured their voices will be heard without violence, those who can afford to wait for the change they want,” said Cunha.

Since the laws themselves are made by the people we elect to represent us in government, and free and fair elections ensure that our “voices will be heard without violence,” this argument is unnecessary at best and dangerous at worst.

It is an undercurrent of American life and thought — appealing to the law and to justice while undermining them.

I am not saying that every single law should be obeyed unthinkingly. Jaywalking is not on par with violent rioting or murder. Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, jr. were courageous in their violations of the law.

Nevertheless, the mentality that the law is irrelevant unless one gets caught has spread to serious and violent crimes. This is what is unacceptable.

Shortly after arriving at ARC this August, school president Thomas Greene set up a task force to fight crime on campus.

Greene and Public Information Officer Scott Crow want safety to be a priority not just for the administration and the police, but also for students.

“Instead of a top down approach, this is an approach that uses that shared responsibility model where students step forward and say ‘Safety is important to me,’” said Crow.

Everyone has the right to a safe school and a safe community. The way to try and ensure this is not through an attack on our court system or our police.

It is up to us to reject violence and work together. Report crimes to the police, make our fellow students aware of danger zones like the Arden Creek trail, walk friends and classmates to their cars at night, and most importantly reject a mentality that encourages us to not be law abiding citizens ourselves.

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About the Author

John Ferrannini
John Ferrannini is a fourth-semester student on the Current, where he serves as Editor-in-chief. He previously served as managing editor and News editor. John is majoring in journalism and plans to transfer to Sacramento State.

1 Comment on "Law must be respected, not undermined"

  1. “Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry”.-Thomas Jefferson

    A citizenry has both a right and a responsibility to stand up an demand to be heard when injustice becomes the norm rather than the exception. The actions of the police as reported by both the mainstream media and not -so-mainstream show the beginnings of a police state min America. MLK wouldn’t have been half the force he was without the threat of militant communities willing to fight for what he was talking about.

    It’s true that laws are written by elected officials but the question is who elects them? Disenfranchised communities are those who are first marginalized and victimized by the government put in place to protect them.

    I don’t think that violence is always the answer but sometimes you need to plunk the giant in the head to get it to pay attention.

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