Sunday, 27 December 2009

Boxing Day Scrooge

If you park in St Helier in any car park or road where you normally need to display a parking ticket, you needed to on Boxing Day. This is because the Monday next and not Boxing Day (26th) is the bank holiday.

In England, Councils are divided. Some follow this rule, others decide to waive it and allow both days as parking free, which also stimulates the economy with sales.
In Jersey there is no division. One rule for all, and the spirit of Scrooge is alive and well! To paraphrase Dickens, using the law in this way seems a poor excuse to pick a pocket. Would loss of parking revenue for just one extra day this year really make this much difference? And wouldn't that be outweighed by the general goodwill generated by the generosity of the States?

But "the law is the law", as Inspector Javert said in Les Miserables, and for the moment we are stuck with the rigid unbending system as it stands. Victor Hugo's novel points up the difference between the law and justice, and how the law can be wrong.

Sometimes this is over large matters, but just as significant can be the small things. It may not be much to give a little slack over parking rules, but the kind of thinking that will not is the kind of thinking that writ large, may also be incapable of distinguishing between what is legal and what is right, and, like Inspector Javert, sadly conflates the two to the detriment of justice.

Verses often read at Christmas are the cheering verses from the prophet Isaiah (Isa 9:6-7):

A child is born to us! A son is given to us! And he will be our ruler. He will be called, "Wonderful Counselor," "Mighty God," "Eternal Father," "Prince of Peace." His royal power will continue to grow; his kingdom will always be at peace. He will rule as King David's successor, basing his power on right and justice, from now until the end of time. 

But what is not so often read is the verses only a paragraph or two further, when it is explained why "right and justice" needed, when Isaiah pronounces how well the legal system of Israel operates:

You are doomed! You make unjust laws that oppress my people. That is how you keep the poor from having their rights and from getting justice. That is how you take the property that belongs to widows and orphans.
(Isa 10:1-2)

Something to ponder that is not so often mentioned as part of the Christmas message!

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