Intent/Spirit or Letter? - Printable Version

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Intent/Spirit or Letter? - Kurt - 05-31-2020

When it comes to laws and rules are you a letter of the law person or spirit (intent) of the law person?

For example there was a scene on Andy Griffith were Barney was giving tickets to truck drivers going only a few miles over the speed limit. Andy talked with how they always let truckers get a little extra speed going down that hill there before they had to go back uphill so they build momentum.

Barney was by the book, letter of the law, arguing about how the law was specific and the truckers broke the law.

I'm an intent person and try to follow what a law or rule wants to accomplish more than what it may say exactly and would take Andy's side in this argument.

Do you side with Andy or Barney?

RE: Intent/Spirit or Letter? - Kurt - 05-31-2020

I also think intent is important in things like conversation and humor. People mispeak all the time. What did they mean to say?

I've had friends where we insult each other's religions, races, sexes, etc. but the intent was always to laugh not to put down or offend. I wouldn't say many of these things to people who wouldn't understand my intent.

RE: Intent/Spirit or Letter? - 10x - 05-31-2020

My dad has a saying he probably stole from somewhere that goes like this:

Principles with clarity, Practices with charity

In other words, your principles are definite. You live by the law. But when it comes time to live life, judge or help others, etc. you do it keeping in mind the principles but at the same time acting with charity.

I think this is the way I do things. I am a stickler for the rules--dot the i's and cross the t's--but AFTER that can consider the situation including intent, spirit of the law, etc.  Sometimes the law wins and sometimes the spirit wins but mostly it's a compromise I think.

Some people see that as unfair. John gets a speeding ticket for going 45 in a 30 but Mike doesn't because it's his first day of work and he's nervous about the job and wasn't paying attention.