Ralph Kingsbury Column: Because I Can

I often have to walk with a cane. I often am not sure when that will be so in order to not be in a situation that causes problems for me and for others, especially those who do not know me there are times when I carry the cane with me.

Because of my problem I also find it difficult to sit in most airplane seats, especially those ridiculously crowded inside seats. If I can do it I try to get a seat in one of those emergency exit rows because there is a lot more room to the row in front, or one of those bulkhead walls.

On my last trip to New York I got that bulkhead row and the attendant seeing my cane went out of her way to make sure things worked for me. She asked if I could handle the emergency handle if that should be necessary. I said yes and I think the look on her face was satisfaction that there wasn’t some ten year old, or a doper sitting there.

On the way back I was sitting in a similar row when the attendant saw my cane. To cut to the quick, you would have thought she was the sheriff. She sat down beside me with her clipboard (you know you are in for it when someone with authority is carrying a clipboard or one of those wireless phone things growing out of their ear.) and told me it was obvious because I had a cane I wouldn’t be able to open the emergency exit door that required that flip. I started to explain that I could. That had nothing to do with my problem. My D.I. talked nicer to our basic training platoon than she did responding to me. I knew any more talking on my part would get me kicked off the plane and probably thrown in the airport jail.

I was reminded of that experience tonight as I was listening to the national news when I heard the story from Utah about the school district who, in front of everyone else told some students their parents were behind in paying for previous meals.

Oh, the school wasn’t mean to these little children. They gave them an apple and I think a piece of bread. Kind of like prison food for those who don’t obey the rules, but that is it until their deadbeat parents pay up.

There are people to be tough with until they pay their bills, but not like this when they are grade school kids. To my friend writing comments to me about playing the children card I will tell you in all honesty had I been there and one of those little kids started to cry I would have punched that food Nazi in the nose. Right there. Right then. Shame on them.

Then I read the Say Anything story about the “settlement” between Valley News Live and the Fargo and West Fargo school districts. Regardless of which side you come down on my point concerns the attorneys reaction to Rob Port’s Freedom of Information request. It’s the law. Something is covered by the law, a request is made, you send it. End of story, but that isn’t what happened. What gives that attorney the right to do what he did?

Then there is the Attorney General’s Special Places proposal. Really, who and why would anyone be against that. I have walked the battlefield at Killdeer just as I have at Gettysburg. I can hear the battle. The spirits from both sides are still there. Well, this is the problem: a little thought and we know what will happen. The lawyers are already opening new savings accounts. Those opposed to any development will use the law to throw any development plans under the bus, as the popular phrase currently goes.

I could recite other cases, but it is enough to ask: Why do people do things like that? People like that attendant? Like those teachers? Lawyers?

Because they can.

That’s all. It is that simple. It is what this country’s founders understood and wrote our constitution and Bill of Rights to try and prevent. They knew there were people like that in 1776, and they knew that if you picked any year in the future, let’s say 2013 or 2014 that attitude would raise its ugly head somewhere, somehow.

The founders understood. People use the law to do mean vindictive things simply because they can.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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