Thursday, July 27, 2006

The bylaw is an ass…

…quoth Mr. Bumble. He may have lived in London.

With legal constraints and checks to municipal powers over private property and interests in judicial tatters and upheld only by permissive and arbitrary provincial legislation, there is so much idle power lying around that its exercise can only be equally capricious. Almost nothing must stay their hands from every nook and cranny of people's homes and yards, no principle of right and wrong or even pragmatic consideration of safety or utility needs to provoke them. But pick up a handful of brightly-coloured bylaws here and others must slip through the city's fingers there — there's only so many bureaucratic resources to hold them! The London Free Press has two stories today about the whimsical dribbling of bylaw authority in London, one by an obstinant refusal to enforce the bylaw, and the other by aesthetic immunities to a bylaw. Once, a man who had broken the law would have taken the chance of being caught… now, he takes the chance that the law might have any meaning or appeal at the given moment. When politics loosens its fetters by judicial and constitutional inconstancy, we have equality neither of nor before the law.