Compassion Can Be More Cruel Than  Law

Open Letter to Arkansas Senators on Elliott's Instate Tuition Bill


The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of laws, where there is no law, there is no freedom.

John Locke (1632–1704)


No law can possibly meet the convenience of every one: we must be satisfied if it be beneficial on the whole and to the majority.

Titus Livius (Livy) (59 B.C.–A.D. 17), Roman historian




            Regarding Senator Elliott's SB799, I know you will be told that the compassionate thing to do is to pass this bill.  However, we have laws precisely to protect against  “compassion” that occurs naturally, and which can eventually create injustice and chaos.  We are better protected by laws that at times may seem cruel than by our feelings.  For example, it is very simple to feel sorry for someone who has broken the law and now is subject to what seems harsh punishment.  But to ignore that broken law leads invariably to even more crime and more hardships to others, often the innocent. 


            Mandating that children of illegal aliens who came here as children must pay out-of-state tuition may seem cruel, but it is the price that they and their parents pay for the crime of coming to this country illegally.  Some children suffer when their parents are imprisoned for committing crimes.  We have compassion for those children, but we don’t let the parent out of prison.  Both child and parent have to suffer for what the parent did.  To let the parent out of prison would create chaos; it would precipitate an eventual breakdown of the law that would endanger other innocents. 


            Do laws mean anything anymore?  To you?  To anyone?  We have a Secretary of the Treasury and head of the IRS who is an admitted tax cheat.  Because of that I wonder how many people this year will refuse to file their taxes.  Ignoring laws, or interpreting them any way one wants will have  serious consequences, the worst of which would be, of course, anarchy.   I believe that we already have an electorate that is becoming more and more cynical, and that is very dangerous for all of us.


Interestingly, when Sen. Elliott claims that 10 other states have ignored the federal law and gotten away with it (a paraphrase of her comment), it sounds suspiciously like the excuses my teenage granddaughter uses when she really wants something that she knows her parents won't approve of and which may not be good for her. 


Finally, if you pass this bill, and Jim Purcell, director of the Department of Higher Education, is correct about Arkansas losing its ability to charge out-of-state tuition, how do you plan to replace that money?  Tax us even more?  Raid the treasury?  It will be interesting to see how quickly an out-of-state student files suit if this bill is passed.


 I implore you to uphold our laws and not pass this bill.


Iris Stevens

Jonesboro, AR


Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice, and ... when they fail to do this purpose they become dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968)