Do you know there is a saying called “the Law is an ass”? It is derived from an English proverb which likens the law’s stubbornness and stupidity to the supposed innate nature of a donkey. Charles Dickens popularised it in his novel “Oliver Twist” where Mr. Bumble is told in a court regarding his domineering wife that “… the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction”, replies:
“If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is an ass – an idiot”.
In my mind, the law becomes an ass because the judges, lawyers, and the legal profession do not follow the spirit of the law. They are only concerned with the letter of the law.
Our politicians are very good at making new laws all the time because it gives them the appearance of acting positive and trying to solve a problem. In doing so, they do not allow for the fact that when the lawyers and judges apply the law, only the letter of the law is followed and never the spirit. It leads to contradiction in many cases where all the ethical and moral considerations are lost. Thus the law becomes an ass.
We see this in action in every bureaucratic institution everywhere and at all levels of government. It means that those working in that situation are not allowed to use their common sense or reason with their brains. These people are being conditioned to think in a particular way and trained to stick to the letter of the law. Do you realise that when one is working under these conditions unless one is aware of it, one unwittingly becomes a zombie?
In the recent case of Isreal Folau and Rugby Australia, a moral and ethical dilemma has arisen because both sides have claimed their correctness according to the letter of the law.
Israel Folau claims that he has been discriminated against and unfairly sacked by Rugby Australia because of his religious beliefs.
Since Rugby Australia is a bureaucratic organisation which can only think in terms of the letter of the law, they had to find Folau in breach of contract to sack him. There was no other option because they followed the letter of the law.
To implement the law, Rugby Australia did what most bureaucratic organisations do, display their authority and use bullying tactics. They warned Folau and threatened him with dismissal so that he may bow to their demands. Under those circumstances, how would you feel if you were in Folau’s position? Would you not dig in your heels?
Thus we have an example where the letter of the law is applied, without any ethical and moral consideration to an individual who had not committed any crime, to make him submit to their demands.
Recently in the Brisbane Courier-Mail of 7 May 2019, there was a report titled “Music legend felt ‘violated'” published. Diana Ross “was close to tears as a security officer felt between her legs during an airport pat-down”. “I was treated like s..t”. “Makes me want to cry.” “It’s not what was done, but how,” she insisted. “However, a TSA spokesman said that CCTV footage appeared to show the officers involved ‘correctly’ followed all protocols”.
Here again, was an example of how bureaucratic handling of a situation can result in traumatising an individual. And of course, the bureaucracy always goes scotfree because they always act within the letter of the law. Under the protection of the law, an average person subconsciously or consciously tends to feel more powerful and superior; thus, there is a likelihood of authority being abused.
Hence when we apply a law without the spirit behind its formulation, it becomes a heart without the soul. I hope this case between Folau and Rugby Australia does not settle out of court. I want the wise judges in our Law Courts to prove to all of us that the law is not an ass.