Arbitrary laws erode respect for the law makers and law enforcers

I just found out that dashboard video recorders that are ubiquitous in Russia and fairly common in the US are illegal in Austria and Switzerland. It’s a bit difficult to have any respect for laws when they are as arbitrary as this.

Anther example: sound suppressors are over the counter items in New Zealand and France, forbidden or very heavily restricted in many other countries. Again, hard to consider most laws as necessary or even helpful when their absence causes no visible problems.

A passing a law indicates such a grave concern that its authors approve of using government troops — and police are a type of troops — to eradicate some practice, property or belief. At various times, laws forbade things that we find benign or irrelevant, and often enforced the prohibitions with deadly force, torture and bloody mayhem.

It would be strange to Americans if cops arrested people for having catnip or coffee, but they consider harsh sentences for other herbs or seeds to be normal. And Americans walking around with folding knives in their pockets wonder why British or German cops would arrest people for that. Attitudes evolve over time, too. Used to be that dynamite was freely available in stores and condoms were not…and even advertising them was risky.

Unnecessary prohibitions that aren’t enforced merely erode what little respect lawmakers had to begin with. Enforced prohibitions immediately mark politicians and police as the enemy of the people, and eventually the first reaction to headlines about dead cops becomes “I wonder what they did to deserve it?” Nobody even wonders about most of the politicians, elected or appointed.

This entry was posted in civil rights and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Arbitrary laws erode respect for the law makers and law enforcers

  1. What is the point of banning a dashcam? Some mistaken notion of privacy for the other drivers, in public?

    • Paul Koning says:

      Privacy of drivers may be the excuse. Protecting government officials from being caught abusing the rights of the people is the only plausible explanation.
      It’s good to remember that much of the world doesn’t have a Constitution that protects the rights of citizens, the way the US Constitution does (or at least is supposed to). For example, I like to point out the Dutch “constitution” which appears to protect all sorts of things, until you get to article 120, which says “The constitutionality of Acts of Parliament and treaties shall not be reviewed by the courts.” In other words, the whole document is a dead letter.

    • Y says:

      No.. just privacy. Austria did not let google street view cars in.

      Keeping people in dungeons makes one appreciate privacy..

  2. Tierlieb says:

    Cory Doctorow said it rather succinct: “All laws are local”.

    Luckily, the absurdity of such restrictions becomes clearer the more interconnected the world becomes.

  3. Flint says:

    With most laws, it’s rather easy to show that some jurisdiction does not have that law, and their world has not ended as a result.

    Living next to Vermont is very useful for art photography, since there’s no state law prohibiting public nudity. Society has not collapsed because of a few naked people.

    Here in NH, there’s no minimum age for carrying a firearm (just a parental consent requirement). Those who try and attack the RKBA, trying to find exceptions by saying, “of course you agree that we have to prohibit some people – children, for example – from carrying guns” would probably be shocked to learn that we have pre-teens who carry pistols and this remains one of the safest places on the planet.

    Red light cameras and speed cameras are prohibited by law, here, and our streets have not turned into a life-size version of bumper cars.

    You can ride a motorcycle here without a helmet and, strangely enough, I can still get into the ER if I need to… it’s not choked with a waiting line of head injuries.

    Et cetera.

    There’s always some jurisdiction that lacks a law that someone else insists is absolutely vital to a functioning society, without the predicted social collapse.

  4. Lyle says:

    If your goal were to degrade a society, you’d certainly want to degrade respect for the law (and for law enforcement) by passing arbitrary laws. At some point (and we’ve arrived) it becomes practically impossible for good men to be in law enforcement. That opens the doors for all kinds of tyranny.

    • Rolf says:

      Yes, because of all those scofflaws, we must need MORE laws to help control all that lawlessness, and if you flout those, they will legislate again! It’s a vicious cycle, until there are enough laws on the books that the powers that be can target anyone they want, and get them on SOMETHING, marginalizing the dissenter’s voice, because he’s a *gasp* convicted criminal.
      It’s all about power – getting, maintaining, growing.

      • Paul Koning says:

        Ayn Rand said this very well in Atlas Shrugged. The purpose of laws is to create violators, to allow those in power to apply their power to you.
        “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?” — James Madison (in Federalist #62).

  5. If I were living a thousand years and running some sort of long con, certainly.

    In the real world, you’ll find most politicians are motivated by “doing something” for some imagined problem, and getting re-elected or the post-public service paying gig.

    Which occasionally leads to the hilarity of them being caught in their own BS.

Comments are closed.