Here’s a definition for the concept that gets so much play these days. “The term, rule of law, refers to a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the state itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms.”
The kind of legal anarchy and debauchery that Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio practiced was nothing of that sort. Not even close.
Sheriff Joe has been pardoned for statutory malfeasance that included; Unconstitutional jail conditions, failure to investigate sex crimes, abuse of power, election law violations, misuse of funds, racial profiling, illegal searches and seizures of “suspected” illegal immigrants, official oppression, contempt of court and many more. Now the “Birther” crime he supported Benedict Trump in was just a side hustle.
Sheriff Joe’s side hustle literally saved his ass; especially had he been ordered to jail in pink panties in tent cities like many of those he denied civil rights and due process to. The whole tragedy has come full circle like a bad movie. If Trump had to go retro to “Make America Great Again”, why didn’t he use some really good examples? Examples like the Rifleman.
There was a sitcom about the rule of law. The Rifleman was introduced in 1958, starring Chuck Connors, a former tri-lettered athlete who played for basketball’s Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Dodgers and Chicago Cubs baseball clubs. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears football team but never suited up.
As Lucas McCain, Connors was featured as the first single father of prime time television among many other distinctions that make it one of my all-time favorite television shows. Lucas’s 44-40 Winchester kept the rule of law intact on-screen, but his brand of social justice was equally compelling. Consider.
Not only was he the doting (widowed) father of his adorable son Mark, played by actor Johnny Crawford, the show broke ground on other fronts. The Rifleman was the first series to have a Black guest star without making a comment on race. The inimitable Sammy Davis Jr. shows up in two different episodes. The Rifleman was the first TV Western where a gun wasn’t fired in every episode. As a former Lieutenant in the Union Army, Lucas knew a lot about diplomacy and the sanctity of human life.
Finally, and adjacent to my original point, The Rifleman was the first American series to be broadcast in Russia. After Leonid Brezhnev attended his historic 1970’s meeting in the United States, Connors and Brezhnev became friends, which led to several invitations to visit the U.S.S.R.
It is just damned near uncanny, that Donald Trump would execute a pre-emptive pardon to Sheriff Joe Arpaio within seven months of his yet to be determined term of office. We understand why he has pardoned Vladimir Putin, because Putin owns Trump from his blonde combed-over pompadour to his overly protruding tie. However, the pardon of Arpaio has a double entendre working.
Trump saved Arpaio in a very efficient and public way to signal to folks like Paul Manafort, General Michael Flynn and his own namesake,” Little Donnie,” that he would do the same for them. Simultaneously, Trump offered a high pitched inaudible communiqué to his base, that he remains festooned to the philosophy of White Superiority and the classic Klan narrative.
The Rifleman will go down in history for the nobility of character and consideration of the U.S. Constitution that Lucas McCain practiced in precept and example. The pardoning of Joe Arpaio will live in infamy and recollection of the day when the charge, pledge and badge of oath taken by law enforcement professionals ceased to mean any damned thing at all.
The rule of law has officially been rewritten…For now!!