Saturday, April 18, 2009

Law versus Common Sense

Something occurred to me just now. I was reviewing my email and came across yet another obvious spam phishing piece of crap. The 'from' line says "Bank of America" and the 'subject' line says "Unauthorized Activity." The email address says "plukqb at accounts dot net." From this information I can glean it's spam. Predominantly because I do not have an account with Bank of America, and if I did they would not contact me via "random letters at generic word dot something other than com." However, this sort of email fools people all the time, even today. A spammer philistine can spam thousands of email addresses with little to no time or resources spent on their part, and they only need one fool to fall for it, for it to be worth that small investment.

I've said this before, but wherever I said it is lost so I guess I need to document it again here: shouting fire in a movie theater, when there is no fire, should not be illegal. It is an expression of free speech and therefore should be protected by the first amendment. However, the repercussions for such behavior have repeatedly in the past proven to be a detriment for the citizenry of a democratic republic, and so We The People generally agree to give up our freedom in this regard, in return for the security of being able to sit in a movie theater without getting trampled on by the thoughtless words of some mischievous malcontent who abuses inalienable rights.

We all agree to this. However, we give up a slice of inalienable rights when we do so, because we can't trust to police ourselves and all choose not to do something so malicious to one another. When we give up even a little of our inalienable rights, such rights stop being inalienable. What does inalienable mean? It means they can't be taken away - they are supposed to be inherently ours, but if we choose to give up a little bit, then common sense dictates it's possible that the rest can be taken away. So the word inalienable loses its meaning and purpose. That's just common sense.

There are laws on the books in which it is against the law to pose in public as a law enforcement officer. However, there are times when such behavior may be excused. A costume party for example, or perhaps a stripper in a club can wear an outfit for purposes of fantasy. However, even then it is expected that the person not behave in such a way as to purposefully fool others into thinking they have the authority of an actual policeman. If one takes advantage, there's a line that is drawn in the law and if caught, one can expect serious repercussions. Police don't take kindly to their authority being usurped. There are of course other forces out there who think the police have too much power, and maybe they'd pose as a policeman to tarnish the police reputation or otherwise undermine their efforts to impartially enforce the law. Some could argue there are people who are legitimately wearing the badge and the blues, who inadvertently undermine already.

Still, I can imagine legitimate reasons why someone who is not a policeman might pose as one, to harmless and perhaps even beneficial results. However, I can't for the life of me imagine a single scenario in which it would be somehow beneficial or at least harmless to pose as a financial institution. Are there laws on the books making it clearly illegal to pretend to be a bank in a virtual manner? There must be. If there are laws dictating how unacceptable it is to function in society yet undermine its law enforcement efforts, surely there's laws against undermining our economy.

Of course, how do you police that? If we sent to jail everyone who has purposefully or accidentally undermined our economy, we'd have to start with the last several executive administrations of the US government, and work our way down from there. I fear in one way or another, we're all guilty. How many of us can't afford to repay our debts in a timely manner? If one can't physically make enough money, bills don't get paid. The companies that expected those bills to get paid have to tighten their own belts, and spend even more money trying to collect those debts. This may lead to that company having less revenue than it needs to stay in the black and so it falls into debt to those it borrowed money from. It's a vicious cycle. No one wakes up in the morning saying they'll undermine the economy, but in one way or another we all do. If you own a credit card, you may be in debt and not even consciously think about it. That realization puts the insignificant spam in our inboxes in a bit of perspective, doesn't it? In our day to day lives, we have to police our own activities and those of the ones around us. We do our best to pay our debts and juggle our finances so as to hold up our little end of a very big monstrosity. It's never as easy as it looks.

We delete our own spam. We don't expect the government to do it for us. We try in our day to day lives to make the best choices we can for ourselves and those we love. It would be nice if the government could police these trouble spots for us, but sometimes the government is part of the problem. I'm sure it doesn't mean to be, but too many laws bogs down the system, and perhaps there are forces out there purposefully creating a need for more laws, because the more laws you have, the more you think you need, and any political system eventually grinds to a halt, encumbered by its own set of rules.

It would be nice if we didn't need these laws. It would be nice if every individual could choose to do the right thing because common sense dictates it's the right thing to do. However, allowing an anarchist state in which everyone just rules themselves leads to chaos and confusion, and a lot of jackasses screaming fire in movie theaters just cuz they can, and a lot of people getting trampled on just cuz they were in the way.

There's a level of existence that's below the radar for fat government intervention. There's a point where each of us must police ourselves as best we can. However, at that level we have little to no power to actually enforce such policing, especially if our fat government has already intervened in personal freedoms so much as to effectively leave us politically impotent. So a balance must be reached and that balance is ever precarious and fragile. It doesn't take much to sway rights and mights one way or the other. In fact it could happen right under our noses and we wouldn't even realize what we've lost. Laws are supposed to evolve out of common sense, but when they stop doing that, they start conflicting, and that's where it becomes harder and harder, within the confines of Man made Law, to truly be human.

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