LibertyBob.com

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On Crime

2002-08-12

Category: politics

I would like to start my discussion of crime by simply defining it. We know that a crime is, in its simplest form a violation of law. When making new laws though, crime must be looked at before the law is there to violate.

Let's take an extreme example. We know that murder is bad. It is a crime and it's easy to agree on the fact that it should be. Why is that? Well, somebody killed somebody, obviously, but it's not really that simple.

The victim of a murder was mortal and was likely to die anyway. Death is the natural end of life. What makes this death different? The fact that a person impacted another person's life in a way that the second person probably considered to be negative. That seems to be the key.

In another example, we have theft. Why is theft a crime? The stolen thing wouldn't be around forever anyway. Again, the issue is that one person adversely affected another.

You may ask, "When criminals get locked up by society, they are being impacted badly, why isn't that a crime?" That is a special case. The criminal while planning his or her act must assume that if they are not successful they will be locked up or worse. With this knowledge, they enter into a series of events willingly that may go badly for them. So, though another group impacts them in a negative way, they have chosen that impact by their actions.

This is an important concept. Things appear to be crimes when one person, or group, has a negative effect on another person or group. The reason that this is important to a lawmaker is that it must be a criterion for passing a new law. The lawmaker must ask him or herself: Who is doing what to whom?

Sometimes these issues aren't that easy to deal with. There are abstracts to consider. We have pollution laws because we have to consider the long-term effects of people's actions on people who may not exist yet. We stop speeders not because they have damaged someone but because they have an increased likelihood of hurting someone.

It's easy to see why some politicians and activist groups want to have a great number of laws passed. Some of these laws may do good and no harm. Some may cause harm but only to a small group of people. Some laws would endanger our very freedoms. Before any law can be passed, the lawmaker must stop and think, "Is someone being hurt by someone else and will this law stop it?"

This is an over simplification, of course, but it is a good image of my views on the function of government. The world is too crowded for the government to be wasting time and resources on things that aren't really necessary. You don't want them telling you how to handle your life if you aren't bothering other people. Nobody should tell you how to live or what to think as long as you aren't hurting other people.

That's pretty much my view on laws in general. Again, this is the simplified version. If you have questions about specific issues, check out other pages on the site or contact me.


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