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Coastal Voices: There ought not to be a law

Have you been to the Crescent City post office lately? If you have, you probably noticed the sign on the entrance door.

It says, “Armed robbery of a postal employee or postal facility carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years upon conviction.”

Now I would have thought that it was self-evident that robbery of a postal employee or facility would carry serious prison time. So if anyone with a peanut-sized brain could figure out that it is a federal felony to commit this type crime, why is it necessary to put this sign in the window of the post office?

It could be possible that someone who robbed a post office somewhere in the United States came up with the following defense argument:

Defense attorney: So, Mr. Defendant, when you held up the post office did you know that the offense was against the law and would carry a sentence of up to 25 years upon conviction?

Defendant: No I did not. I thought I would only get 20 years if I got caught. If I had known that I would get 25 years I would never have held up that post office.

I can’t think of another reason why this sign was posted on the post office door, and of course, if it’s on our post office’s door it must be on every post office door. Think of the time and effort it took the U.S. Postal Service to investigate all of the alternatives and come to this as a possible solution.

However I don’t think that this is the end of this. I can envision another courtroom drama that may go like this:

Defense attorney: So, Mr. Defendant, when you held up the post office did you know that the offense was against the law and would carry a sentence of up to 25 years upon conviction? Didn’t you see the sign on the door?

Defendant: Well yes I saw the sign, but I am an elementary school dropout and I have trouble reading and comprehending. I really thought that armed robbery meant that the holster had to be attached to my arm, so considering I was holding the gun in my hand and the sign failed to say hand robbery, I was safe.

Now this is not going to stop there. Naturally this case will prompt a new federal law. The law will mandate that every elementary school student be instructed in the meaning of every word in Title 18 of the United State Code as it applies to holding up post offices. The cost will run into the billions of dollars, which each school district will have to pick up as a non- reimburseable expense.

Of course this will necessitate a special education credential that says only qualified teachers are hired to teach the material, along with the hiring of a school administrator to make sure that every teacher carries out this mandate and submits the proper paperwork to insure compliance.

Well, by now, you can see where this is going. We have hundreds of state and federal laws on the books that must have utilized this same crazy reasoning.

Our new state senator has proposed that we look for state laws that can be eliminated, that serve no purpose or that may be in conflict with other laws on the books. I think we need to go a step further and suggest getting rid of some federal laws that have no rational basis, such as the law that mandated that bright red sign on our post office door.

Bob Berkowitz of Crescent City is the owner of LifeStyles Research Company and a former Del Norte Unified School District Board member.

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