Yesterday I used the example of a drunk-driving incident to briefly illustrate how unjust the American legal structure is. From your county commissioners right on up to the federal government, the state constantly seeks to prosecute us for the mere potential to commit crimes, not simply in response to harm done intentionally to someone else or his property.
The problem with this system of governance is that it is extremely tyrannical. From a moral standpoint, you can't have a criminal without a victim, yet the state increasingly criminalizes nonviolent habits or behaviors that do no harm to anyone, save perhaps the individual who chooses to engage them. And even when the state does prosecute someone who's actually violated the property rights of others, the state doesn't merely force the individual to pay for his own crimes; it compels innocent taxpayers to pay for them as well when it robs us at the point of a gun in order to feed, clothe, and incarcerate the miscreant.
Sadly, the vast majority of Americans not only condones but actually encourages this so-called system of "justice," even though granting the state such enormous power means there literally is no limit to the abuses that can be wielded on nonviolent citizens. To illustrate this further, I will reprint some comments I received yesterday in response to my post.
First George Copeland, the National RNC Examiner, weighs in by saying, "I am delighted to contribute my tax money to put this scumball behind bars. He is a menace and I want him kept far away from me and my friends."
I'm astounded that a Republican would say such things, given that the GOP, beginning with Nixon and continuing right on through Reagan and George W. Bush, is primarily responsible for the expansion of the domestic police state through its war on drugs (and other vices) and the concomitant militarization of local, state, and federal police forces. Sure, the Democrats aren't much better and have never seen jobs programs they didn't like, but it's just that the Republicans are usually the ones telling us they're so committed to individual liberty. As if.
But regardless of Mr. Copeland's party affiliation, the point remains that he has every right to donate his own money to such a government; he has absolutely no right to steal mine to further his own agenda. This is a form of fascism, plain and simple.
Then there is "Rick E.," who writes in part:
What right does a person have to drink and potentially kill others? Answer: he has no such right. In fact, once he/she drives intoxicated, he/she is not a potential danger, but an actual one ... If I fire my pistol at someone and miss, does that make it okay? No. The intoxicated driver is no different.
With all this he/she talk, I'm tempted to think Rick's talking about drunk transvestites, but I digress. I don't want to confuse him any more than he already is. Rick's assertion that we don't have a right to "drink and potentially kill others" is awkward. Anyone who exercises free will has a right to drink. Likewise, because everything we do in life involves risk, even the most unsuspecting victim can be killed by someone else accidentally. Therefore, the harsh reality is that we all unfortunately run the risk of harming or even killing someone else every time we get behind the wheel of a car, whether drunk or sober. However, criminal acts turn on intent. If you kill someone intentionally, it's a crime; if you do it accidentally, it's usually at most a civil offense and one in which you will punish yourself far more severely than any judge or jury ever could.
Simply put, Rick misses this crucial distinction in his argument. Drunk drivers do not usually intend to target other motorists, whereas firing a gun at someone and merely missing him constitutes the intent to do harm via threat to one's person or property. The latter is a crime.
Finally, "Tim" claims that "Drunk driving is an offense against the public order," and that driving is a privilege, not a right. Wow, one is unsure whether Tim's beef is with drunk driving in particular or merely driving in general! Let's just assume Tim believes our rights should be limited to whatever people like him think they should be.
For those interested in serious conversation, however, I might point out that flatulence could most certainly be considered an offense against the public order. How about plain ol' body odor? Anyone who's ever had the pleasure of riding on government-run subway trains probably knows what I'm talking about. Perhaps we should incarcerate anyone who's forgotten to brush their breath with Dentyne or scrub-a-dub-dub with a bar of Dial before heading off to work. When you endorse arbitrary limits on beverage intake and treat as a crime the mere refusal to observe such totalitarian diktats, don't be surprised when you too find yourself sitting in a government cage -- most likely over some "offense" you didn't even know existed.
And to Tim's assertion that driving isn't a right but a privilege, all I can say is "bunk." Every last one of us has the right to travel unmolested by the coercive state, especially when we're all robbed to fund the roads.
Pivotally, the state's focus on drunk driving is entirely perverse in that it doesn't criminalize poor driving, destruction of property, or even harm brought to innocent motorists -- it criminalizes the act of having a particular substance in your blood, regardless of whether you've harmed others as a result.
As I noted yesterday, the man who crashed his vehicle into a truck occupied by a man and his daughter deserves to be held accountable for his offense. Today we toss around the word "crime" as justification for throwing people into government cages willy-nilly, but in a moral sense this man did not commit a crime inasmuch as he probably did not intend to harm the innocent party. He commited a civil infraction for which he and he alone should be held to account, and he should be forced to pay damages to his victims in the event they decide to sue. However, banishing him to a jail cell and compelling the public to pay for his confinement -- in essence, spreading the guilt around by forcing the innocent to accept responsibility for someone else's transgressions -- is more evil than even the initial offense.
As stated earlier, everything we do involves risk and bad things can happen inadvertantly. But a free society will always make a distinction between those who intend to do harm and those who do not when determining grounds for criminal prosecution.
The criminal U.S. state has devolved to the point where we are routinely prosecuted for our mere potential to do harm. We all run the risk of hurting others, and the statists know this. Yet if we accept the notion that we deserve to be incarcerated for accidents and nonviolent vices, there's nothing the state won't eventually control.