Friday, November 19, 2010

Letter to a Town Lawyer

The little town we moved to has a local newspaper, and recently two letters appears that complained of the town government's enforcement of land use laws against them.  One townsperson wrote a letter in support of the government against these individuals.  I posted the following in response:

Hi Charles,

I disagree with your premise: “That is, whether or not one agrees with the law one is bound by it, no matter who they are or think they are.”

I think we can all think of laws, current or past, that so conflict with our moral sense that we would support those who break them; even in some cases consider them heroes!

I believe one is bound not by the laws of the government but by one’s conscience and the moral law written in one’s heart. Of course there is great personal risk in not following the government’s laws, and as a result we often subject ourselves to it for practical reasons.

Yes, perhaps these statements are a bit grandiose when we are considering the petty zoning ordinances of a small town. I suspect the motivation for the letters had more to do with the manner in which the ordinances were enforced.

I agree that one person’s actions have effects on neighbors, and in community we should seek to resolve disputes caused by those actions. But I stand by my words from an earlier comment: it is in community that we resolve differences through communication and compassion, not through police and lawyers.

The zoning laws are not the will of the people. They are the will of some of the people, who have selected particular means to enforce them that I object to.


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