Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Law

What is the purpose of a society that accepts a set of laws?  This is a very complex question that could probably be covered in a series of books rather than a single blog post, so I will try and do it justice.

From my perspective, at a very basic level, a law is designed to deal with a behavior that is generally considered evil or just very bad.  When a law is passed, it is designed to include some kind of punishment for dealing with infractions on said law.  Murder is probably universally accepted as the most egregious act of evil imaginable, although in the United States, child rape is considered a close second these days (which is why the UN only does it in the third world or New York City).

Until recently (and by recently I mean the last century), laws were usually used primarily to define what was generally accepted as evil in a society and the punishments that could result.   When the progressives gained significant political and state power (the progressive movement has taken over the political class and the bureaucracy in the United States and much of the Western World), they decided that they could use the State to bring about some vaguely defined Utopian vision.  In order to do so, they started to pass laws whose purpose was to not only punish lawbreakers, but curb the behavior of law-abiding citizens to suit their standards of living.

The Prohibition Era is a shining example of this line of thinking.  Instead of regarding alcohol as something to be tolerated, these positive-thinking individuals decided to ban it for everyone.  But what their ideology did not account for (and for most Statist Utopians, it never does) was that the demand for alcohol was be more intense than the people’s own desire to obey the law.  Combine that with the Great Depression and the ban on alcohol had its days numbered.  It has been said that Franklin D. Roosevelt, a progressive himself, initially won because he said he would lift the ban on alcohol if elected.  Indeed, the Great Depression had not yet reared the entirety of its ugly head yet in 1932.  On a side note, this probably means that illegal drugs like marijuana will probably be legalized in most states within the next decade or so and the Federal government will probably abandon its wasted War on Drugs.

As a Christian, I view the laws as Jesus taught the Pharisees: that the laws were created because our hearts were hard.  In other words, without evil in this world (or sin as it is commonly called among Christians), there would be no need for laws.  In essence, the law shows us what separates us from God and gives us a means to take corrective actions.  If you read much of the Law as handed down by Moses from God, you get a sense of a system that deals more with reparations rather than retribution.  While life is held as sacred, to the point where even accidental death is considered murder, most other evil acts required some form of reparation to the victim.

The Western justice system is not based on this principle and probably never really was.  I know that many people claim that are laws are based on Judeo-Christian ethics, but I think most of these are common among all cultures.  You would be hard pressed to find a society that accepts theft, murder, and kidnapping to be acceptable forms of behavior, at least among their own people.  Because of this, I reject such nothing that we are operating under a Judeo-Christian based system of laws and are instead operating under an old Feudal one.

Most punishments issued by the State, even in colonial times, serve to either enrich the State or deprive the criminal of his life.  When you are caught speeding in your car by a police officer and receive a citation, the sole purpose of said citation is to enrich the State.  While the Statists, both in and out of the State, will argue that it is for your own good and for the safety of others, do you really believe that these hypocrites do not violate these laws as much as the rest of us, if not more so?  The truth is that most of the laws which are enforced by the State serve only to benefit the State.

To illustrate this, take a look at the laws the Oakland, CA police chief said they will not enforce anymore.  You will notice that most of those laws do nothing for the State when they enforce them.  You will also notice that minor drug possession crimes are not on the list.  This is because drug laws actually serve to enrich the State as they are allowed to confiscate large amounts of cash without a warrant, as well as break into homes on pure suspicion.

The truth is, our system of laws and justice are not oriented toward liberty but toward the State.  They have nothing to do with dealing with evil acts, but justifying the existence of the State.  Today the United States has proportionally more people in prison than any other country in the world.  Many of them are locked up for minor offenses and other activities that many of us would not even recognize as crimes.

But still today the majority of Americans tend to view the State as the final say on all things evil, which is a sad state of affairs.  This is why so many people, including many misguided Christians, assume that lawbreakers are evil people when there are plenty of laws against actions that are not evil.  It is unfortunate that the vast majority of Americans still believe that the justice system we have is a righteous system of some kind and fail to recognize that the modern justice system only serves to enrich the State in some fashion.