Double standard, n. (1894): a set of principles that applies differently and usu. more rigorously to one group of people or circumstances than to another.

That’s Webster’s definition of something a lot of people have been talking about recently in the wake of local public officials being allowed – seemingly – to walk free from violations of the law for which the rest of us would have to face the consequences.

Tupelo’s city attorney was never jailed back in December when he refused to take a driving under the influence test after being stopped for suspicion of DUI. Earlier, back in April of last year, a Lee County supervisor was apparently afforded the same leniency when he, too, was stopped for a DUI charge. If not for local news reporting, both may have never had to own up to the allegations of violating the law. It seems justice is not only blind but also deaf and especially mute when it comes to some people.

If it had been you or me, such charges may have never made news, but we certainly would have had to face the humiliation of being booked into jail, posting a bond and appearing publicly before a judge to answer for the charges and accept the punishment.

That’s been the gist of what I’ve been hearing from people disgusted by the possibility that someone – either because of their office or whom they know – would be treated differently than themselves. Aren’t we all supposed to be treated equally under the law?

Or, as Teddy Roosevelt once put it, “No man is above the law, and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man’s permission when we ask him to obey it.”

So why, then, do some of these same people spouting righteous indignation over the apparent special treatment given a couple of local public officials remain silent when the highest public official in the land openly defies the law?

Precedent Trump (the spelling is intentional) has repeatedly refused to comply with congressional subpoenas in recent weeks seeking testimony from members of his administration and ordered his Treasury secretary not to turn over his tax returns to Congress even though the law says, in biblical terms, he “shall” do it if Congress requests it.

So where’s the hue and cry over that? Isn’t that the same as saying you can’t arrest me, I’m a city or county official? And you can’t argue the president is justified in not complying because it’s all just a political ploy by Democrats. At least one of those subpoenas came from the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

If, as the president likes to say at every opportunity, he has been “exonerated” of any wrongdoing, what does he have to hide? And if he’s allowed to circumvent the law, what sort of precedent does that set for future presidents who may or may not be from your particular political party?

So we’re right to hold our elected officials to a higher standard. But to point fingers at local politicians while ignoring the conduct of those on the national level is a real – and dangerous – double standard.

Marty Russell writes a Tuesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at marty.russell56@gmail.com.

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