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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    Greg on Politics(1): Criminal Laws Comment
    Gregory Morris, 5/15/07 9:27:15 am
    Criminal laws do not prevent crimes, they only provide a deterrent and a punishment. Those who value their freedom will abide by the law, while those who put the gains of their crime above the potential risk of prison will break them. Keep in mind there are also "crimes of passion" which cannot be prevented, nor deterred. Any law whose purpose it is to take away the civil or human rights of an otherwise law-abiding citizen is unconstitutional (see the ninth and tenth Amendments specifically.) I'm talking about laws that are passed because they sound like they might prevent crime (otherwise known as feel-good laws.) Most gun laws fit into this category, of course, but there have been a rash of similarly appalling laws passed in the recent years to the same effect.

    Too many legislators forget the cardinal rule of reason when it comes to law, which is personal responsibility. This should be the foundation of our legal system. Instead, these days we blame anyone and anything else. What's worse, the media and the courts both let Congress get away with it!

    I strongly believe that laws which criminalize a victimless activities are unconstitutional, on the grounds that they violate the spirit of the constitution, and the letter of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. When I say "victimless", I understand that anyone can make up a "victim" for any activity. For instance: "Second-hand smoke causes cancer" - well don't hang around people who smoke. "Not wearing a bicycle helmet causes other people's insurance rates to go up" - tell the insurance companies not to cover head injuries when a rider isn't wearing a helmet. "Smoking marijuana supports terrorists and leads to other crimes" - no it doesn't, it supports Doritos, and leads to carpentry and art. "Prostitution victimizes women" - prostitution pays women who choose to offer a service to men. "Gambling hurts families" - this is a social problem, not unlike alcohol abuse, which should be treated through prevention and counseling. Making it illegal doesn't stop it from happening.

    A crime only takes place when there is an obvious victim who is unavoidably damaged by the crime. Prostitution may be victimless, but forcing a woman to be a prostitute is a heinous crime, and should be punished accordingly. Marijuana doesn't hurt anyone, but drug dealers act in other criminal ways, and should be punished when they do. Too many politicians find it convenient to go after the face of crimes, rather than the root, and criminalize behavior that hurts nobody, while leaving the real crimes unprosecuted.

    Remember, laws never provide liberty. Liberty is natural. Our legal system is nothing more than a social contract, where we agree to give up some liberty in return for a higher degree of perceived security. The danger comes when we agree to give up so much of our freedom that we become afraid to think, speak and act as we feel. Every time we give up another rights, it leads us closer to Orwell's vision of 1984.

    Note: this is not meant to be scholarly essay. This is simply my opinion. If I use someone else's ideas, I try to credit them where appropriate. I also reserve the right to change my opinion when provided with better information, as any half-intelligent person should do.

    [Comments are closed after a month.]

    < "Where is All That CO2 Coming From?"
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