Since it is Martin Luther King’s birthday celebration weekend, it is an appropriate time to consider issues of law and morality, justice and decency.
Yesterday I posted a satirical piece about former Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and Governor “Squeezy” Quinn. I accused Quinn of pension theft.
This did not go over well with Chas Montoya who wrote, “Fitzgerald and Quinn are friends. Your post represents a delusional conspiracy, and it libels the first honest gov Illinois has had in a long time. Find a real villain, Fred.”
Aside from the fact that Chas did not appreciate (or perhaps get) my sense of humor, as I drank my coffee this morning, it got me thinking about the issue of honesty and villainy.
Chas is correct that Squeezy and Fitzgerald are friends. Some have suggested that Squeezy functioned as a kind of a mole inside the Blago administration, helping Fitzgerald send the former governor to the federal pen and getting himself a bedroom in the governor’s mansion.
But when that happened, he swore an oath to uphold the constitution of the state of Illinois.
And shortly thereafter he announced that he was placed on this earth to undermine that same constitution and the pension protection clause. He promised that he would make every effort to break a covenant with the state’s public employee retirees.
So from a moral and ethical point of view, what is worse? How are these three Illinois governors ethically different?
Steering some contracts to friends, as George Ryan did?
Trying to sell a Senate seat, as Blago did?
Or taking an oath to uphold the constitution and then ripping the document to shreds and violating the oath of office?
Breaking the law is not necessarily an unethical thing to do.
We honor Dr. Martin Luther King this week and yet he was an outlaw.
Among his most important teachings comes in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
I’m afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?
It is quite likely that the results of Squeezy’s actions will cause much greater harm to the people of Illinois than anything George Ryan did (although one can only feel heartbreak for the family of those that died in the crash involving a fraudulently licensed truck driver), or anything that Blago did.
It is pension theft on a massive scale.
Even if the courts find that Squeezy violated the constitution and his oath of office, it will not be a considered a criminal offense.
In America, to break segregation laws once sent you to prison.
To steal millions of dollars from retired workers is just politics.
But it will demonstrate that unlike the man we honor this weekend, Squeezy has no moral core.