Just Follow the Rules

Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.”  Douglas Bader

What possesses people to think that the rules do not apply to them? They take a vacation to attend a sporting event, visit with friends, or see a music festival, manage to throw all sensibilities to the wind, and think that the new location allows them to violate the local drug or alcohol laws. By definition “illegal substances” are, well, ILLEGAL. With the exception of the new marijuana laws in Colorado and a few other places, it’s illegal everywhere else. So are cocaine, LSD, methamphetamines, as well as dozens of other, well, illegal drugs. That’s why they are called ‘illegal’ – because they are illegal.

So if they are illegal during the rest of the year, what makes people think that they suddenly are legal when they are on vacation or in another location for a special event?

While you’re considering that for a moment, allow me to remind you that elections matter. “It matters who governs.” Those people who run at every level of government should be carefully considered before we place them in office. Their political bent will affect how our communities, counties, and states are governed. If you don’t like what they say when they are campaigning, then make certain you work hard to get their opponent elected instead!

Now, what can these two matters have to do with one another? I’m so glad you asked.

It seems that many who will be attending an upcoming music festival in TN, Bonnaroo, are upset over how drug arrests will be handled this year. The former DA just mailed letters to those arrested, named the amount of the fine, and defendants could simply mail a check to pay the cost of their indiscretions. Not anymore! Recently elected District Attorney General Craig Northcott of Coffee County, TN, has made it abundantly clear that attendees will not be treated with the leniency they’ve had in the past.

“These Bonnaroo letters have to stop,” stated Northcott. “Those arrested at Bonnaroo receive a letter from the DA saying pay this amount of money, don’t get in trouble and the charges will be dismissed. Justice isn’t for sale. If what is appropriate the day before Bonnaroo is a conviction, just because it happens at Bonnaroo does not forgive the crime. … That’s a travesty that has to stop.”

Many past attendees are angered with this situation. “So pretty much all that means is that this new DA is just trying to make a name for himself by messing with the people who bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for his town,” opined one moron (I apologize, but I read many other comments by this idiot and just couldn’t find a more polite term than ‘moron.’). Comments by other past attendees include references to the lack of control over other major crimes in the area, accusations of harassing visitors to the community, and informing local citizens that their city is a mess anyway and without the support of Bonaroonians (their word, not mine) the town is a “<expletive> hole” the remainder of the year. Lovely.

Not only are attendees concerned about upholding the rule of law, many local citizens are troubled as well. “Ridiculous to take away the fine money from the city and instead taxpayers pay for their room and board while they’re here,” stated one local citizen on a social media outlet. Yes, some citizens of Coffee County are concerned that actually upholding the rule of law will run the event and its coordinators out of town. Other citizens, meanwhile, are hopeful that upholding the rule of law will run the event and its coordinators out of town!

At the same time Bonnaroo is taking place, the Country Music Association festival is taking place in Nashville. While the crowd at CMA fest is arguably more docile and level headed, there are still some arrests for drug and alcohol violations. According to local attorney Ben Raybin, attendees at this event should already be familiar with the rules since they have always been enforced in the same manner. The newly elected District Attorney General, Glen Funk, will most likely continue to follow the same protocol this year.

The bottom line, however, goes back to the rule of law. A rule is on the books for a purpose. Believe it or not, legislators don’t pass laws for fun or kicks. Laws are passed or repealed by lawmakers at the direction of the citizens they serve. If you dislike a law, then work with the appropriate officials to change it. When one disobeys a law one should expect to pay the penalty.

As for how the small town in rural Tennessee will handle the situation, well, General Northcott has clearly indicated how violators will be treated. If attendees don’t like the thought of jail time, they should simply not do the crime.

~Temerity Dowell

Many thanks to attorney Ben Raybin of Nashville, TN for the legal information he provided for this post. Should you need legal services while in TN, Mr. Raybin can be reached at: http://www.hollinslegal.com/attorneys/ben-raybin/

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