Editorial: How not to get indicted

Column by John Young

The day Donald Trump got arraigned for attempting to overthrow the U.S. government — actions by which he triggered a deadly riot and raked in millions of dollars on a calculated lie — I went to the store for a celebratory donut.

Celebratory? Wasn’t it a “sad day”? A “somber day”? “Tragic”? “Sobering”?

Terms like this came from thoughtful TV people I respect. Not so. They know full well it was a great day.

On this day, all Americans could observe that laws are meant for every one of us.

I observed exactly that attitude — that laws are meant for you and me — at the grocery store where that celebratory treat awaited me.

Have you ever stopped to think of what a peaceable, law-abiding place your grocery store is?

People have any number of opportunities to grab what they want and hoof it out the door, to cheat, to steal. They don’t. They follow the law.

On this day, no one stood among the fruit, juice dribbling chinward from the newly arrived crop of Colorado Palisade peaches. Want a peach? Pay for it.

People who observe the rules don’t pocket pecans or trail mix. Nor do they break into the nacho chips right there in Aisle 8.

They don’t pry open the hummus and sample two fingers’ worth because it’s at arm’s length.

They don’t do all these things because (1) it’s against the law; (2) it’s wrong. That, in microcosm, is how this society operates. The alternative is chaos.

I don’t know if anyone in that store other than myself stepped livelier that day because a special counsel sent a message that a one-time president who thinks the law doesn’t apply to him would have to defend that treasonous claim in court.

I detected no spurious defenses for malfeasance from the people I saw shopping or working in the store.

Those who had punched the store time clock weren’t making gazillions off someone else’s labors and a portfolio of lies.

A man whistled while he ministered to the zucchinis and peppers. He’ll never have a jetliner with his name on it, but I trust him to handle the artichokes honorably.

A woman working checkout told her boss she didn’t need the 15 minutes she’d committed to the enterprise by showing up early. He offered to pay her extra.

I use self-checkout, as do so many. Self-checkout depends on an honor system. It would have been easy to lie to the machine, say to have a pricier éclair in that bakery bag rather than the donut I rang up. I didn’t do that. It’s called cheating.

My state now has an environmentally smart policy of phasing out plastic bags, requiring a 10-cent charge for each. People have bought into that without kvetching. They bring reusable totes. Understand, they could lie at self-checkout and ignore the policy to save a dime. They don’t. Donald Trump would. Count on it.

It’s easy not to break the law. You can do it for your whole lifetime.

It is stunning how many serious crimes – 78 charges at this count, each enough to sway one of three grand juries – Trump supporters will pretend away.

Let’s just say that if even one such offense – just one — were hinted of Barack Obama, these law-and-order folks would howl like wounded dogs.

Look at any penitentiary and know that almost no one is there for just one crime. Most are there because crime became a habit.

So, too, with the man whose latest bad day in court sent me to my favorite pastry section.

I paid for my keep. I left peaceably. All was good.

Departing from the parking lot, I made a complete stop at the exit. It was tempting not to, but (1) it’s safer; (2) it’s the law.

Obeying the law is how to not get indicted. Have a donut.

Longtime newspaper editor John Young lives in Colorado. Email him at jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author.