Making An Ass of the Law


Mr Brownlow: “In the eyes of the law, you are the more guilty of the two, for the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction.”

Mr Bumble: “If the law supposes that … the law is a [sic] ass – a [sic] idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience—by experience.

The above is of course the oft-repeated scene from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Dickens has of course frequently been credited with the phrase “the law is a (sic) ass” although purists argue that the phrase was earlier published by George Chapman in 1654 in his play, “Revenge for Honour.”

Be that as it may, many of us (including lawyers) do believe in the accuracy of the phrase. Well, they are not to blame, really. Reading some of the laws passed and decisions made by the Courts around the world lend credence to the phrase. However, allow me to remind you that laws are made and interpreted by people.

Being so, it is not the law which is the ass.

Laws are passed for certain specific reasons and functions. They are supposed to reflect the society’s preference for or abhorrence of certain things or acts. We criminalise murder or rape, for example, because we, as a society, regard them as unacceptable towards our wellbeing as a society. However, when such good laws are given an interpretation or application which is bereft of rationality, than the law becomes an ass. Or rather, the law has been rendered an ass.

Quite often too, bad laws and rules are passed by the very people in whom we entrust the duty to regulate. In this case, again, the law is not to blame. The people who pass them are. And when we think that it was us, in the first place, who entrust these people to regulate us, than it is we who are to blame for the laws which make an ass out of all of us.

Thus we have people who try to ban Valentine’s Day celebration as apparently, our youths have the tendency to fornicate endlessly on 14th February every year. As evidence, well, just look at the number of baby dumping, say these moral Nazis.

Of course, in Perak, the poco-poco dance is banned. Why? Because the movements in the dance bear resemblance to the very evil Christian cross. Thus the Muslims who dance the poco-poco may unsuspectingly change their faith while doing so. While we are at it, why don’t we also change all T-junctions to roundabouts, please. Thank you for saving my faith.

Recently, we ban a sex education book written 40 years ago because apparently it may affect the moral of our kids. Well, I am sure for the past 40 years, the book has been the subject of surveillance in Malaysia. It has been found that all the babies born out of wedlock here are the result of that book. All the rapes and sodomies as well. And just count the number of baby dumping in Malaysia nowadays. I bet you it’s that book which is the cause.

Have you all noticed that our local radio would erase out the word “morphine” from Bruno Mar’s “It Will Rain?” Yes. In Malaysia, Bruno Mars would go “If you ever leave me baby; Leave some bzz bzz at my door…” (Why don’t we be a bit more creative? Fill in the blanked out lyric with some other words, like “cheese cake” or something, ya?).

We are even allergic to the word “morphine” nowadays. Now, please utter the word, “morphine, morphine, morphine, morphine.” Now, have you all become drug addicts? While we are at it, why haven’t we blanked out “ménage et trois” from Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night”? Oh, I forgot, nobody in the censorship board understands that French phrase.

Last week the Erykah Badu concert was banned when pictures of herself with tattoos of “Allah” in Arabic was splashed by a newspaper. According to official statements, problems may arise if the concert were to go on.

Have we ever looked at the real problems before banning things?