LEGAL, ILLEGAL = RIGHT OR WRONG?

The short answer to that question is no, certainly not in many cases. A friend of mine, that was not all that religiously minded, back in the eighties pointed out that any law which was not able to be attributed to one of the Ten Commandments was actually invalid. That idea has real foundations. The idea of law is to keep order in the whole community, not penalise or benefit anyone or any group of people. Nor does it entitle law makers to tell citizens what they can or can’t do in the privacy of their homes. The exception to that is of course if one’s chosen activity presents a threat or harms others in society. (Bomb making is excellent example), but that should also include excessive noise, pollution and any other activity which damages the quality of life that their neighbours are entitled to.  

It is obligatory on all law makers to prove that the activity which they wish to outlaw is, in fact, something which does harm or, at least, presents some kind of potential threat to society. Too often laws are based on social mores, such as a person’s sexual preference, or choice of leisure drug,  despite  the absence of any evidence which proves that choice to have any detrimental effects on the general community. Also, just as setting road speed limits far too low for the prevailing conditions promotes the lucrative  (for the police) ‘crime’ of speeding, making things illegal for the wrong reasons can and does generate public acceptance of much criminal activity. It also has our law enforcement people preoccupied with chasing folks who are, in fact, perfectly respectable and productive members of our society. 

Unfair, inadequately researched laws are actually themselves a danger to our society; they cause a variety of antisocial behaviours. Quite understandably, people resent being prevented from doing as they wish without good reason. That resentment can cause violence and push an otherwise lawful person over to those who have little or no respect for any law. Arbitrarily banning a sport or activity, without clear cut, unbiased full research, is bound to generate ire among advocates and an overall lessening of their faith in the rightness of the law in general. The history books are full of proof that just laws can stand the test of time, while those made for political ‘correctness’, or to favour some particular group, usually disappear with their proponents. 

The only way I know that we could end up with a book full of fair, socially beneficial laws, is to make law making transparent. Let those who would restrict some activity or practice, demonstrate, publicly and truthfully, why that restriction is necessary for the benefit of our society At the very least, they would have to show that the activity they want to ban presented a clear and unreasonable potential danger to the public. The so-often offered rationale that “It could be used by criminals” is totally invalid. So could anything at all! To ban anything because it could be misused by criminals is nonsense really. Reality is, a bad guy can use anything from a bull dozer to a baby’s pram, to aid him in a criminal act. We just can’t outlaw everything that could be mis-used.  

I’m certainly not suggesting all our law makers and politicians are deliberately making unfair laws for their personal benefit, even though judging by the news of late some certainly are, the usual reasons are peer pressure and the public’s perception. Unfortunately, the latter is pretty much guided by the media, who are, for the most part, controlled by a small group of unelected and very often socially irresponsible magnates. The rationale for pressuring politicians to vote for legislation which they don’t really approve of is quite simple. Like any kind of business, government has to generate money and, if they actually taxed us for all of what they need, there would doubtless be a revolution and the kind of sad street violence that these ‘austerity measures’ are causing in Europe. 

What I am saying, with great conviction, is that our government, like all others around the world, makes laws that generate the most dollars for government. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, after all, we are the consumers of all that the government provides. However, despite being one of the highest taxed in the developed world, we are taxed again for the use of almost everything that government provides. (Roads, waterways, public transport and so on.) They don’t call them taxes; they call them ‘tickets’ or ‘licences’ or ‘permits’, why not simply call them what they are? Because if people came to realise that is what they are, like I said, there would be much unrest among the general public, so they brag on about what they are ‘giving’ us for our taxes, then promptly tax us for using their tax paid for utilities. Isn’t that called “double dipping”?

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