"It [government] covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting: such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." ~ Alexis de Tocqueville
Laws! Huh! (Good God Y'all) What Are They Good For?
Exclusive to STR
February 7, 2007
Absolutely nothing. Say it again: Absolutely nothing. For as fellow Root Striker Marc Stevens points out in his excellent book, Adventures In Legal-Land, a government "law" is nothing more than an opinion backed up by many guns. This stands in sharp contrast to a scientific law, of course, which is formed on the basis of objective observation. As well, it is a one-sided "contract" -- which is, of course, an oxymoron. No one can make a contract by themselves any more than one could possibly make a "Contract With America."
Here's an example of the very absurdity of legislation (law-making) from a long-ago experience of mine: In 1972, I accompanied my parents on a trip to Washington, Denizen of Criminals. My father was an officer in the Air Force, and had been ordered to attend a week-long series of seminars and conferences in the capitol. During our stay, we paid a visit to the Lincoln Memorial. At my father's urging, I walked around the building's interior to Lincoln 's left (my right), turned left, went through a doorway and up a single flight of stairs right to the statue itself. At that point, I climbed a metal stepladder -- the kind big libraries have in order to reach all the books on the upper shelves (there must've been some maintenance workers nearby or something . . . or maybe I was just charmed) -- and right straight up on the ex-president's lap. Just as proud as punch, I settled on his left knee (I did not, then, understand what a brutal, hypocritical tyrant Lincoln had been; like most kids, I was taught that he was kind, benevolent, wise, and honest -- a Great American President. By contrast, looking back, Nixon was a piker compared to Abe). My parents were down below -- Dad in his crisp uniform, Mom in a full-body paisley dress -- both waving and smiling. (As an aside, I also remember how impossibly young they were. So was I, for that matter.) I think my father snapped a couple of photos, though if so, those pictures no longer exist to the best of my knowledge -- assuming they ever developed in decent shape. So I regret that you have to accept my recollections on faith. Because I think we'd all agree that, attempting to even get near the actual Lincoln statue in 2007 would get you chucked into a Charleston Navy brig by Homeland Security faster than you can say 'PATRIOT Act.' Not so in 1972. Why? What has changed so dramatically in 35 years so as to render a once innocuous act into something criminally suspect? How is it that a marble statue of Abraham Lincoln has gone from being a publicly accessible monument to something off-limits; viewable only from behind a screen of armed government guards?
Well, one can argue that in a post-9/11 world, things have gotten a lot more dangerous (and they have -- especially if, like myself, you lend no credence whatsoever to the government's "official" version of just what happened that day and who was responsible and why). After all, there were no Viet Cong strapping bombs to themselves and blowing themselves up in the midst of big crowds in 1972 -- at least, not here at stateside. But one look at this country's foreign policy record since the inception of the Monroe Doctrine and it becomes pretty clear where that path has led us. The power-mongers, however, would consider neutrality a show of weakness. It would constitute an inability to control, dominate, and exploit the world. And so, rather than rescind or renounce any of these arrogant, high-handed, one-sided edicts, more troops and armor are sent to Iraq, bullets fly in Afghanistan, bellicose threats are hurled at Iran. And we lose, among many other things, our right to sit on Abraham Lincoln's lap.
But say, what about murder, theft, rape, assault (you know, all the things that governments themselves do in the first place)? Those things are and should be crimes no matter if they're written down or not. They constitute acts of aggression against persons and property. Using violence (law) to prevent me or anyone else from sitting on a statue because I might have some plastic explosives taped to my belly button is not only outrageous, it's prima facie evidence of a society in decline. We can even reasonably argue that laws do not protect a civilization, but invariably destroy it.
Laws? They contribute nothing useful whatsoever to the world we live in. And neither do those whose business it is to make, interpret, and enforce them.