"You have the right to be wrong," the officer said as he arrested me. "You have the right to make mistakes, to err in judgement, and even to . . ." He paused before continuing. "Well, I was going to say you have the right treat others wrongly, but I hesitate on that one. You do and you don't. Its better that you don't, but sometimes the only reason we treat others badly is because we don't realize what we are doing. We don't mean them harm, we just do it because we aren't thinking. Anyway, now I've read you your rights, you're under arrest."
"Excuse me, officer," I asked. "but what are you arresting me for?"
"Well," he came back, "the people down at the office have been reading your blogs, some of the old ones. Here's this one. Let me show you. You say in it that one of the ways we could inject competition into the health care system would be to offer more than one choice of companieswhen buying insurance through the workplace."
"Well, that's right, isn't it?" I asked.
"Nope. Not at all. You're not too smart, are you? See, there's this thing called volume buying. Walmart does it all the time. You buy in large amounts, and it reduces the cost. Did you catch that? It reduces the costs. Now, competition is not lost, because the company selects among the various insurance companies. You aren't doing the shopping, but someone is. It does the shopping among the competition, but competition is not left out."
"Hmm," I said, reflecting. "I think you are right. I hadn't considered that."
"Anyway," he said. "You're under arrest. I'm going to have to take you in. You've pretty much confessed here, anyway."
"Wait," I said, "What about the rights you just read me?"
"We have to do that," he said. "We have to read you your rights. But, just because we read them to you, doesn't mean you have them." He pulled out his badge. "See right here on this badge, it says I'm from the court of public opinion. The court of public opinion doesn't say a thing about you having any rights. Some do-gooder suggested you have those rights, and got it so we have to read them to you."
He waited for me to respond, but I was too flabbergasted.
"Besides, if it weren't for this blog you messed up on, it would be for something else. There's a lot of things I should be arresting you for."
"Like?" I asked.
"How about the time you asked a renter to move out, because you thought he was stealing from you?"
"Yeah," I replied. "I came later to think it was another roommate who snitched the money from me. I've always regretted kicking him out."
"Then," the officer went on, "there was the roommate missing a few mental bearings, who spoke of killing on the behalf of God, as a real-life avenger, and who believed Mormons were of the devil. You moved him out because you're a Mormon and you feared for your life."
"Maybe I was wrong on that one, too," I said. "Maybe I shouldn't have taken all his talk so seriously. I'd now guess that he probably never would have done me any harm."
"I could go on and on," the officer said. "You've been wrong a million times. What you've done has hurt people. In the court of public opinion, you aren't allowed to be wrong so much as once. So, what am I going to do, let you go scot-free and keep on causing all of this damage?"
"Hey, I'm just a human," I said. "But, I like to think I try to set things right when I mess up. I don't pretend to be without fault -- at least I hope not. I'm not perfect, obviously. But, at least I try to be perfect by trying to overcome my faults."
"That ain't good enough for me," the officer said, "nor for the court. Come along. I'm taking you in. Nobody's perfect, but, boy do you mess up. You mess up way too much, and its gotta stop, and so we'll just put a stop to it right here and now."
"And, just what is my punishment? What are you going to do with me?" I asked.
"I'm taking you away. The public is no longer going to respect you, nor listen to you, nor give you any credence," he said. "You're outta here."
I thought on it. Often that is our punishment for making mistakes. I couldn't say it was altogether wrong. Sometimes, we have to pay for our mistakes this way. I will only repeat what I told the officer. I'm human. Whoever that person who suggested we have rights, I only pray the court of public opinion would listen to him.