Sarasota News Leader

07/11/2014

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BOB'S BOATHOUSE'S DEFIANCE AN AFFRONT TO THE PUBLIC EDITORIAL Laws and ordinances do not exist solely as a mechanism for identifying wrongdoers and the sanctions against them. In a civilized soci- ety, laws and ordinances provide a framework — boundaries, if you will — whereby honest folk know what is and is not permissible behavior. Those boundaries normally function quite well, with the overwhelming majority of citi- zens remaining in compliance with them. And those who do not comply usually are apprehended, charged and tried. If con- victed, they face appropriate penalties for their wrongdoings. Interestingly, in this modern era in which the U.S. Supreme court is anthropomorphizing corporations, granting them the previously human-only rights of freedom of speech and religion, there remains one area where corpo- rations are not being treated as people: when they break the law. In the beginning, corporations were allowed to exist as legal entities so the collective will of the owners, directors and officers could be expressed in their name. Corporations could buy and sell property, enter into contracts, sue and be sued. What was not contemplated in those early days was the notion that a cor- poration, which is a legal entity only for the conduct of the corporation's affairs, could be a lawbreaker … and, if a lawbreaker, subject to the judicial penalties prescribed for lawbreakers. Instead, most governments find themselves dealing with corporate wrongdoing as a civil OPINION

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