Do what's right, not what's legal
(My Clovis News Journal column for April 19 [4-19!], 2013.)
When a law is silly, good people may break it; when a law is wrong, good people have to.
I wouldn't tell you what to do, beyond telling you that you probably already know the right thing to do. I will tell you that if I see you breaking silly laws without hurting anyone or their property, I will respect you. But if I see you breaking, or even openly defying, bad laws, I will consider you a true hero.
Look at how many heroes from the past are heroes because they broke and defied bad laws. Rosa Parks and Henry David Thoreau come to mind. How many heroes from the past do we look up to strictly because they obeyed laws? I can't think of any right now.
The law only deserves respect as long as it is respectable. "Laws" which attempt to control or regulate things other than theft, aggression, or damaging or trespassing on privately owned property do not deserve respect. In fact, they deserve contempt.
This also means that anyone I see enforcing silly laws is someone I have no respect for, and anyone I see enforcing bad laws I see as the enemy of everything America was supposed to be, and an enemy of liberty and decency.
No excuses involving "the will of the majority" or "just doing my job" hold any water. And any claims of "upholding my oath" are worse than pointless when your interpretation of your oath requires you to do wrong.
This doesn't mean it's always nice to break all silly "laws". Some behaviors are just not polite, regardless of the law. It isn't always smart to do everything you have a right to do. You need to look at unintended consequences that can result. Of course, this applies to proposing and enforcing "laws" too.
This profusion of "laws" has caused a condition I call "law pollution". It has been estimated by attorney Harvey A. Silverglate, a civil liberties advocate who has researched the issue, that each and every one of us commits at least three felonies every day; usually without knowing it or having any ill-intent. That's hilarious.
When everyone is some sort of a criminal it means the laws are wrong; not that everyone is bad.
If I were inclined to give you advice I would say "do what's right, and don't worry about what's legal". Come to think of it, that's the same advice a retired deputy sheriff once gave me.
Labels: Clovis News Journal, cops, Counterfeit Laws, government, jury nullification, Law Pollution, liberty, murder by cop, responsibility, Rights, society