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February 24, 2003

The purpose of rules.

Last weekend a group of 1960's rejects calling themselves "Great White" decided that rules didn't apply to them, and murdered almost 100 people in a nigthclub fire. Now that they find out that most people think that burning almost 100 people to a crisp as part of your nightclub performance is not a good thing, they're claiming they had the permission of the nightclub manager to violate the fire code and endanger the lives of the patrons. And that all the other nightclubs that are saying that the band also used pyrotechnics without permission, are also lying.

We have rules for a reason, but in our culture it has become acceptible to snicker at them, ignore them and even brag about it. Now we have 97 lumps of charcoal that used to be someone's brother, sister, son or daughter, and few people are acknowledging the real message we should be taking from this -- when you laugh at rules, eventually bad things will happen.

For how long have Black leaders ridiculed the police, only to have crime in Black communities rise -- the majority of which is Black on Black crime. Yes, it's really popular to bad mouth the police, but the message is that rules, laws and authority aren't to be taken seriously. You can't have safe communities when that message is preached by the community leaders.

We all were furious over what Timothy McVeigh did, but then we tried him out of state (a voilation of the 6th Amendment) and hid evidence from his attorney, then denied him a reasonable time to view that evidence once it was discovered. We laughed at rules. We said, "Heck the slimewad's guilty anyway, just go ahead and fry 'im." But we ignored the bigger picture. Someday that may be me or you aqccused of something, and we'd sure apreciate the prosecution following the rules, wouldn't we? But the precedent's been set, so that they may not feel they have to.

How many people have been released from prison in the past few years after it was discovered that the police, the prosecutor, the forensic analysts even the judge decided the rules were too much of a burden?

Our former president claimed that the rules of purery didn't apply to him because "it was all about sex". His Vice President claimed that campaign finance rules didn't apply to them because they really, really needed to defeat the Republicans.

The manager and members of Great White need to be prosecuted for what they did in Rhode Island, but we also need to look at the atmosphere we've allowed to exist in our culture. The atmosphere that says, "Rules are for Geeks. Rules are meant to be broken. Rules are for other people." That also had a big part to play in the deaths of those people. We loaded the gun, Great White just pulled the trigger.


Posted by Jack Lewis at February 24, 2003 12:07 PM