Laws don’t determine what’s right and wrong.

30 Oct

This November 5th some members of anonymous are planning on marching on Washington DC, possibly armed, to arrest the government. As noble as this idea is, in reality they’re going to be arrested the moment they put their hands on any members of the government. If they bring guns, people will be shot because all government authority ultimately rests on the shoulders of someone with a gun. What they’re attempting to do, overthrow the government, is illegal but it isn’t inherently wrong.

However, I feel that if you asked the common Joe/Jane on the street, anything illegal is wrong. I imagine their reasoning would be something as terse as “Well of course it’s wrong! It’s illegal. Things that are illegal are bad!”

Unfortunately, I feel a lot of people in our society have this mentality when it comes to laws. It extends from a view of morality instilled in us from childhood:

Mother and father say something is wrong, therefore it is wrong. Mother and father say it is wrong to break the law, therefore anything illegal is wrong.

The problem is that the law is not some perfect measure of good and bad. It’s written by other human beings, human beings who often have ulterior motives. Governments are living organisms, hive minds, composed of a plethora of smaller beings. All living organisms have a survival instinct. As such, one of the first things made illegal by any government is the overthrowing of that government.

There was a legal academy where I went to high school. Basically, it was some extra-curricular courses students could enroll in if they were interested in going to law school after high school. The idea was to give them foundational knowledge of the American legal system to help better prepare them for law school. The types of people who joined this legal academy were the type of people who loved to watch crime dramas on television, to read about crime mysteries in books, and enjoyed crime fighter comics like Batman and Judge Dredd.

I’ve noticed that later in life these type of people tend to be more conservative and had an obsession with crime and punishment. Their black and white view of right and wrong and over eagerness to punish perceived rule breakers always irritated me. They’re like some annoying self-righteous asshole kid on the school playground that always has to run and taddle on you, desperate for praise and recognition from the authority figure.

The big problem then becomes: What if the people writing the laws write unjust and wrong laws to protect their own misdeeds? What if the right thing is made illegal? Of course this happens all the time in real life. Coercive governments the world over write laws that protect their own interests and attempt to sanction their own crimes. Businesses with enough means bribe governments to write laws to manipulate the market and protect their own interests. It’s common practice.

So how do these crime and punishment types deal with this reality? They don’t. The compartmentalize it, ignore it, or rationalize it away with the just world hypothesis. Such complexities are not within their limited and comfortable range of comprehension.

And so this coming Monday those members of anonymous that march on Washington will experience the government’s monopoly on violence and will be branded criminals by the very people they’re trying to help. Never mind that their crime was trying to do the right thing.

5 Responses to “Laws don’t determine what’s right and wrong.”

  1. slrman October 30, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    I have to wonder how they plan to “arrest the government.” I am certain this is a symbolic gesture and one worthy of the attempt. They could claim citizen’s arrests and, if they have some expensive legal assistance, might escape without being shot.

    Good luck to them.

    • godlesspaladin October 30, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

      I think the plan is to claim citizens arrest, but I’m not sure what they’re going to do. Just stand there and flail their arms around shouting “you’re under arrest!” ? They can’t very well physically arrest and stop government personnel from going about their business. The moment they do the police will be called out and the anons will be arrested and charged with assault. If one of the anons pulls a gun, the police will fire into them, at which point other anons might fire back. Either way, there won’t be enough of them to stop the US government.

      In that blog I linked to they said “we only need 3% of the population to show up.” I think they imagine some scene like in V for Vendetta where all the crowds overwhelm the army and just walk past them. 3% of the US population is 3 million people. In reality somewhere between 20 and 100 people will show up, at which point they’ll all be crushed.

      • slrman October 30, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

        Even if they have 3,000 or 30,000 demonstrator, the police will simply declare a riot and act accordingly. Among the other rights that have been lost in the USA is freedom of assembly.

        • godlesspaladin October 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

          Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if that happens. You can bet your ass that there will be agent provocateurs in the crowd posing as violent anarchists to give the police some semblance of justification for riding in with horses and tear gas. Either way, should be interesting to see how this plays out come Monday.

  2. slrman October 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    However it plays, I suspect it will not be good for the anonymous people. We will se how our preditions turn out.

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