Sunday, May 12, 2019

Arbitrary legality makes bad laws

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for April 10, 2019)

Recently, out of curiosity, I scanned the daily jail log for Curry County. I had never done so before and probably won't do it again. Afterward, I felt guilty and was ashamed of myself.

I learned something interesting, though. Half of the people-- five out of ten-- booked into the jail that particular day weren't even accused of having done anything wrong; only things which have been arbitrarily declared illegal.

What's the difference?

An act which violates an individual's life, liberty, or property is wrong; a real crime, whether or not the law considers it a crime. These acts are wrong in and of themselves. The Latin term for this is "mala in se".

Those booked into the jail that day and accused of having actually harmed someone were claimed to have either harmed others physically or to have violated someone's property rights. Your main responsibility as a human is to respect the rights of others, so I have no sympathy for anyone who chooses to violate others.

This is assuming they actually did what they are accused of, which isn't necessarily a reasonable assumption to make these days.

The other half of those jailed weren't even suspected of harming anyone. The only justification for caging them was that they had offended the government in some way. Either they refused to identify themselves to a government employee, didn't have the required permission papers, had forbidden substances, or tried to avoid being apprehended and kidnapped by an armed government employee. This makes these inmates political prisoners, not criminals. Even if I believed in punishment and imprisonment instead of justice, I wouldn't believe these people deserved it. They are the real crime victims.

I understand why government would like for you and me to think of those things as crimes, but they aren't They can't be. Instead, these acts are "crimes" only because someone wrote legislation designating them so-- a made-up rule with no ethical foundation. "Crimes" only because government employees say so. The Latin term for these acts is "mala prohibita".

If you get aroused by punishing others, you probably don't care. "It's the LAW! It has to be obeyed", you might insist. Still, if you want your laws to be respected, you'll first need to make them respectable. A good beginning is to get rid of all those laws based on nothing but the empty opinions of politicians. This would eliminate all of your counterfeit mala prohibita "laws".

Thank you for helping support

A pointless protest?

Artwork by my daughter, Emily

Personally, I don't think you should spit in anyone's food. Probably not even if the person is a cop. Some Florida teens disagreed (I hate linking to that site because it's a disease).

I'm in favor of fighting back when the other person is currently archating or making a credible threat to do so. There is an argument to be made that even wearing a police uniform is a credible threat, as well as evidence of a history of archating, plus an ongoing willingness to continue doing so.

If a cop doesn't understand why someone might be tempted to do something spiteful toward them, they don't understand what policing has become. They don't realize what they've come to represent to a large minority (at least) of the population. Their lack of accountability and their brutality keep getting worse. And their cluelessness about how this makes them look to others certainly doesn't help anything. Act like a gang and people are going to treat you like a gang. Like it or not. You're going to be seen as a legitimate target, no matter how draconian the consequences.

But, what good does spitting in their food do? Whether it is a cop or an MS-13 member. Does it defeat them on some level? It's like giving those vermin the digitus impudicus. Might make you feel good for a moment but it accomplishes nothing and gives them an excuse to molest you.

If they are currently violating you, you have the right to defend yourself. Then, in the case of cops, they or their gang will murder you for doing so, but you've accomplished more than by pointlessly spitting in their food.

But, do what you want. I can't get too worked up either way.


Writing is my job.
YOU get to decide if I get paid.