Historically, the rule of law has separated the civilized from the savage, and for the sake of our republic, it needs to continue.
In the United States, the Constitution establishes our republic and defines our inalienable rights that citizens are granted by God and not government. It seems as if the application of the First and 14th Amendments to the Constitution have become arbitrary for some people to accept, due to the filtered narrative offered through a partisan perspective.
The First Amendment allows for free speech and the 14th Amendment grants due process under the law. This should be general knowledge for beginning high school students with a rudimentary understanding of how government works.
When I see a group of people who have studied law far more extensively than I reach a bewildering conclusion, I question the political motivation behind this move to pursue Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Farmer with the voracity of prehistoric carnivores.
I wonder how these sesquipedalians of Latin and legal prose could skip the part of the Constitution that protects the right of citizen speech. I also ponder whether it was a surreptitious effort to convict Farmer through the kangaroo court of public opinion rather than respect the idea that before the removal of life, liberty or property, a person must be granted due process under the law.
The Skokie Affair (where a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision upheld the right of the KKK to publicly march) has been settled since the late 1970s but seems to be in doubt by local legal scholars. There was an official accusation of racism by association leveled against Farmer by five people who graduated with law degrees and passed the bar exam. This activity can undermine our republic if it becomes normalized for attorneys who disagree with a citizen’s viewpoint to have that person canceled.
Because the U.S. is a republic, it means citizens are protected against mob rule through representative democracy. Throughout history, there have been countless examples of people who have paid in blood because they had opposing opinions from the mob. The popular opinion today will be punishable tomorrow if freedom of speech isn’t respected and protected.
It is beyond reasonable to expect any public official who actively engages in racism to be removed from their capacity serving the public. The initial evidence against Farmer seemed circumstantial at best. It would have been appropriate if they directly linked Farmer to racist activities as evidence when he was tried in the court of public opinion.
One of the ways society has changed over time is that people used to respect diversity of opinion and wouldn’t actively seek to crush the ability of others to earn a living based on opposing viewpoints. Irshad Manji once said: “Offense is not something to be avoided at all costs. Quite frankly, offense is the cost of honest diversity.” Cancel culture doesn’t just affect the bread winner in the spotlight, but rather a chain of people dependent upon the service provided.
As the president of the Frankfort BlueBackers, when I say we back the blue, we mean the men and women who honor their commitment to the law. This implies respecting the rule of law, and since attorneys are referred to as “officers of the court,” it is beyond reasonable to expect them to respect the rule of law regardless of political affiliation.
Based on due process, it has been determined that Farmer has been cleared of all accusations. As a result, if we intend to keep our republic, it is important that we respect the decisions made through the evolving process of making justice blind.
We can’t on one hand say that convicted felons need a shot to be rehabilitated, rather than punished, but at the same time punish those to the highest extent who haven’t been convicted through due process. We can’t call for justice, but when the verdict doesn’t satisfy our desired outcome, we ignore the same rule of law we expect others to follow.
Then again, I suppose we can do that, but it would most likely erode the republic further. Don’t forget that for centuries our ideals stood as an inspiration for freedom, equality and justice.
Delvin Azofeifa, of Frankfort, teaches government, civics and financial literacy in the Fayette County Public Schools. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org