The letter of the law vs. the spirit


I read from afar with shock and amazement the story about John McHenry being charged with a felony for a multitude of reasons. Reading the article, it became quite clear what transpired. This situation is clearly a “letter of the law” versus a “spirit of the law” situation.

I have known John McHenry and the McHenry family since John was in high school. He is a young man with high standards and strong core values. One of those core values is a strong sense of private property and personal responsibility. Unfortunately, it appears that “letter of the law” enforcement was evoked when a “spirit of the law” situation arose. Clearly, law enforcement ignored the sense of urgency the strong-willed McHenry understandably exuded while fearing for the worst for his property and his animals.

The purpose of this email is to urge common sense and pragmatic cooler heads to prevail in a situation where a well-intending law enforcement servant met up with a strong-willed land and livestock owner genuinely concerned for the well-being of his animals and property in a crisis situation.

Granted, the deputy had the authority to restrain McHenry. But then again, were this property and at-risk animals the responsibility of the deputy, he might not have been as zealous toward duty and allowed McHenry to do what he had to in protecting his livelihood and possessions. Important to this discussion, if the charges stick, McHenry will never teach again. Is that appropriate to the situation? I think not.

There is no blame to be cast here. There is only understanding that both participants were driven by a sense of duty and responsiblity that prompted the incident. One can only hope that charges are dropped and that everyone can learn from this unfortunately, crisis driven situation. Much can be learned by both.

The 25 years I was fortunate to live and raise my family in Cortez and Montezuma County honed a strong foundation of fairness and common sense. I sincerely hope that times have not changed my beloved former home into a “letter of the law,” unforgiving and punitive community.

Mark Larson