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The Importance of Consistency

One of the most important functions of the Law is to provide a baseline for behavior within a community.  If the law is applied unequally to different situations or groups of people, it creates a perception that the law itself is not “just.”  That is why the legal system must first place ethics and morals before all other concerns.  If a Law Maker (politician) is viewed as corrupt, so must be the law.  If a Law Applier (Judge) is viewed as biased, so must be the law.  If those law advocates (attorneys) are viewed as immoral, so must be the law.  This applies to all law and rules in our community, when the law is not equally applied it creates skepticism for the Rule of Law.

Two Stories for your thoughts:

Toy Gun
A 12-year-old boy in Colorado got a five-day suspension for flashing a toy gun across his computer screen during an online art class.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said although the teacher thought it was a toy gun authorities still did a welfare check on Isaiah Elliott without parental notification.

“It was really frightening and upsetting for me as a parent, especially as the parent of an African-American young man, especially given what’s going on in our country right now,” Curtis Elliott, Isaiah’s father.

He said his son, who has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and has learning disabilities, wasn’t aware the gun was shown on screen in his distance learning.

“He was in tears when the cops came. He was just in tears. He was scared. We all were scared. I literally was scared for his life,” said Curtis Elliott.

“The virtual setting is not the same as the school setting,” the dad added. “He did not take the toy gun to school. He’s in the comfort of his own home. It’s a toy.”

The toy gun was neon green and black with an orange tip featuring the words on the handle: “Zombie Hunter.”

Reports said the school district, the Widefield District #3, refused to give the Elliott family the recording of the online class, but authorities showed the family a video of the class from a recording from a police body camera.

The boy’s mother said the punishment didn’t fit the crime.

“For them to go as extreme as suspending him for five days, sending the police out, having the police threaten to press charges against him because they want to compare the virtual environment to the actual in-school environment is insane,” said Dani Elliott.

The school won’t apologize for its discipline, stating “We follow all school board policies whether we are in-person learning or distance learning. We take the safety of all our students and staff very seriously. Safety is always our number one priority.”

Malibu Rum
Earlier this week, Illinois mother Meghan Maza Oeser posted a picture of her second-grade daughter Penny showing off a bottle of rum to her class for a virtual show-and-tell.

The photo shows Penny wearing a set of pink headphones and holding up a white bottle of Malibu rum in front of a laptop on the table in front of her.  The child’s mother also hashtagged the post with “#InJesusNameAmen #BlessIt #PleaseTakeThemBackNow #HideYoWife #HideYoKids #HideYoMalibu.”

A second-grader showed her class a bottle of her mom’s Malibu Rum for a virtual show-and-tell, where the students were supposed to show “something that smells good.”

Since Oeser posted the photo, it has gone viral. As of Saturday afternoon, the photo had more than 73,000 comments, more than 217,000 shares and more than 94,000 reactions.  Most of the commentators noted how their own children, or possible future children, would do something similar.  One person even commented that Penny wasn’t wrong about how good the Caribbean rum with coconut liqueur smells.  Oeser already has gone viral on Facebook this year, the New York Post reported.

In April, the mother of six made another post about her children’s first day of virtual learning and how she accidentally flashed her daughter’s class. That post also had tens of thousands of shares, comments and reactions.

Why would the police be called by a teacher who knew a young man had a toy gun at his home.  This neon green gun was “flashed” during virtual school and due to this a welfare check was sent to the child’s home, without his parents knowledge or consent.   Now where in that scenario was a search warrant asked for or issued.  Nowhere was an adult notified or was anyone notified of an actual concern or any threats being issued.  Not one crime, or concern was actually documented by the child, his parents, or issue noted about the home itself, however the boy was still suspended for five days.

Meanwhile, you have a mother posting pictures of her child “in possession of alcohol,” discussing how good it smells.  Which is literally a crime, Minor in Possession of an Alcoholic Beverage, you also have Furnishing an Alcoholic Beverage to a Minor.  Then you have a pattern of behavior, where the mother “accidentally flashed” her daughter’s class.  Could that be labeled as indecent exposure to a minor child – a charge that could find you put you on the sex offender list.  The response: 73,000 comments, more than 217,000 shares and more than 94,000 reactions; not one home inspection and not a single day disciplined.

Granted, no discipline may have been warranted in either situation or maybe discipline was warranted in both, but that is not the point.  The concern is that when you have inconsistency in the application of the law, you create a perception of inequality in the Rule of Law.  Justice is Blind for a reason.

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