When the rules become so complicated and convoluted that well-meaning people unwittingly break the law, the legal system has lost its moral authority.
Students at Georgetown University are discovering the horrors of, what Tocqueville called “small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd.”
An editorial in The Hoya, the official student newspaper, students advocate “eliminating bureaucracy.” Their grievance? Indecipherable rules that student groups cannot understand.
In other words, student groups have no way of knowing the exact consequences for violations or even what kind of conduct merits punishment. For the university to legitimize its authority to sanction student groups for improper conduct, administrators must more clearly communicate their rules and expectations.
If they think Georgetown’s rules for student groups are confusing and unmanageable, wait until they fill out a tax return more advanced than the 1040-EZ.
I’m thrilled to see students at a Jesuit school awake to the horrors of bureaucratic tyranny. I hope they carry their love of liberty and sound government into the political world by working hard this year for the overthrow of Barack Obama.