Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Laws Were Made

My brother once told me that the "law" is a collection of rules designed to keep power in the hands of those who already possess it.

My brother is a lawyer.

If somebody sworn to uphold the law has such a dreary view of it, that should be a sign to the rest of us. Few people believe that this country's justice system is flawless, but most people still don't understand the extent of its flaws. Moreover, while people claim to support "law and order" they are often willing to cast aside laws whenever those laws constrict the freedoms they feel they should possess. Sometimes this is based on higher ideals, but often it's just based on comfort.

I often find it interesting to examine how laws, both major and minor, bind us and tear us apart. Most of us understand our responsibilities as law-abiding citizens, but all of us break the law on a near daily basis whether it be through minor offenses against traffic and civil ordinances, or more serious acts involving violence, theft or fraud. If you were to poll most Americans I would imagine you would find dire feelings about the state of lawlessness in our society, yet I would bet most people would rate themselves and their family and friends as quite law-abiding.

For example, folks in Texas often feel their state embodies "law and order" in this union, yet months ago those same people, including the state's governor, were openly discussing the seditious possibility of seceding from the United States.

Police officers typically have a derogatory take on lawbreakers and the lenience extended to them by courts and "liberals." Yet, nearly everyday I receive information or actually see officers breaking the law on their own, and these failings are quickly covered up and excused. It would seem that criminals aren't those who break the law, but people who haven't earned the right to break the law.

There is the rub. Many Americans feel that some rights are for all, and some rights are only extended those people who have "earned" them. The only problem is that it seems like "earning" certain rights simply boils down to being born the right color. For some folks, no matter what they've done or suffered they will never earn the right to openly flout the laws of this country. And certain other folks are born with that right and can never lose it.

It's a curious thing when you think about it.



Rise and Grind said...

Well (as a lawyer too) the laws are here to protect us from each other and that's why some break them. They are not really here to bind but to have a common understanding shared by the public at large.

If these laws were not present and there wasn't a system to mitigate them then you would have vigilantism on the streets. As you said we choose which ones to obey but without them it would be a tougher existence.

Big Man said...

Rise and Grind
I'm not convinced that the current laws we have are designed for protection. Some may provide protection as an offshoot, but they seem more designed to protect the property and interests of certain folks. How much of a deterrent do laws provide? Do some laws, and the enforcement of those laws, actually spur people to commit crimes?
Yes, the strong might prey on the weak more if their were no laws, but I could argue that the strong still prey on the weak just in less obvious ways.

Raving Black Lunatic