Category Archives: Law

Obeying The Law

It starts at the top:

…for people to want to obey the law for reasons that go beyond avoiding punishment, several things have to be true. First, they must generally approve of the law: Maybe not of every individual provision, but they have to believe that, in general, the laws are just rather than unfair. Second, they have to feel reasonably confident that most others will obey the law, too: People like to feel like good citizens, but they don’t like to feel like suckers. Finally, they have to feel as if the people in charge also respect the law. Examples are set at the top, and if the government treats unwelcome laws as unworthy of respect, you can expect the populace to feel the same way.

Nonsense. Laws are for the little people.

Controlling The Populace

You’re probably breaking the law right now.

…we may hope that prosecutorial discretion will save us: Just explain to the nice prosecutor that we meant no harm, and violated the law by accident, and he or she will drop the charges and tell us to be more careful next time. And sometimes things work that way. But other times, the prosecutors are out to get you for your politics, your ethnicity, or just in order to fulfill a quota, in which case you will hear that the law is the law, and that ignorance is no excuse. (Amusingly, government officials who break the law do get to plead ignorance and good intentions, under the doctrine of good faith “qualified immunity.” Just not us proles.)

I don’t find it all that amusing. The whole federal code needs to be overhauled, in accordance with the Constitution. And it does seem unconstitutional, and a violation of mens rea, to prosecute and convict people for laws that they can’t reasonably be expected to have knowledge of.