More text

Nothing says "I Love You, Dear" like screaming lower back pain!

Sometimes Wrong but rarely in doubt!

03 December 2009

Blind Adherence to the Law is a Crime

First the link:

Read the article, the synopsis is that a fellow turned in a firearm he'd found in his garden to police, was arrested, and convicted of illegally possessing a firearm.  For complying with the intent of a law he was convicted for disobeying the letter of the law.

If you're ever selected for jury duty look up the principle of jury nullification.  In short a jury can render a verdict of not proven or not guilty in spite of the law or evidence.  I would urge any juror to only use this verdict in a situation where justice would be served, such as the case in article cited above.

Addendum 02 Dec 2009  A Response to Comments By Lux Mentis

I would argue that we have a fairly well educated populace. Confounded with that is that despite a generally well educated populace (I believe) we do not have a populace well trained in critical thinking.

I read an article awhile back about Judge striking down the stunt driving law as unconstitutional. They are correct by the way as far as I can tell. I took the time to read the comments and I noticed many articulate vociferous defenders of the stunt driving law. Yet not one of those defenders thought critically enough to realize the implications of what they were saying.  The judge essentially declared the law unconstitutional because the law gave the ability to the government to send someone to jail without a trial (six months  for stunt driving by the way).  I repeat  for emphasis WITHOUT A TRIAL.  I think Gulags aren't far behind when I read about governments drafting this sort of legislation.

But here's where I think that people's lack of critical thinking is demonstrated.   The judge in rendering a verdict like this is indicating to the government that the law needs to be rewritten to exclude an absolute liability that can lead to a penal term.  Almost every commenter missed that point and many missed the danger of allowing a government to jail a citizen without a trial.

So in response to Lux Mentis' comments, the problem is not one of knowledge (education) but rather one of skill, the skill of critical thinking.

I encourage everyone to read the comments.  One of Heather Malick's polemics was mentioned in the comments I would also direct you to read Charles Adler's response to Heather Malick's pride in her Canadian Citizenship.


  1. The law is what we get when common sense ceases to be sufficient. The main time this is true is when the community becomes large and diverse enough where the 'common' part goes away. The other time is when lawyers (in all their forms, be it lobbyists, judges, advocates, prosecutors, attourneys-general, defenders, or what have you) get involved, then the 'sense' part is right out the window.

    If anarchy or at least moderately libertarian minimalist government actually worked like we think it should/wish it would, we might need less laws or at least they could be applied with more discretion.

    That does, however, require an educated and thinking populace, something our government, entertainment industry, political power groups, and even our corporate overlords have worked hard to eliminate in favour of a placid worker-drone class.

    The best thing folks like us can do in this sort of world is find the places with the most sensible laws and economic situation and migrate there. That and try to avoid running afoul of what law there is. Stay beneath the radar. If you can't fix the system, and I think we're too few and the task too large, just try not to be crushed by the the system.

    Of course, you can politely point out the Emperor's New Clothes every so often, without much fear (at least as things stand today - that could change).

  2. Jesse Ventura, in his book 'Ain't got time to Bleed' made the point that when the so-called common law became something that requires a savant class to interpret, that occupies so many volumes as to be inaccessible to the common man, it is no longer 'common'. At that point, its dysfunctional.

    I kind of agree with that. Continuing to write laws in an ever encroaching fashion never seems to enhance quality of life.

    I mean, I'm sure the government has protected me from all sorts of things with its many, many, many seemingly small and pointless laws and that these haven't cost a disproportionate amount of tax dollars compared to the protection offered, but having been so well-protected (and with that protection ever-increasing), I find myself wondering what life will look like in fifty more years... I'm guessing it won't be one in which you can say much or do much without running afoul of the endless raft of legislation, some part of which you'll be violating whenever you do or say anything worthwhile.

    But we're safer and that must be better, right?

  3. You are reading my comment out of context as pertains to education. I was suggesting that a libertarian form of government would require an educated populace. I do not believe that the average Canadian has sufficient education in politics, in civics, in personal responsibility and its implications to make a libertarian government structure (to the extent that isn't oxymoronic) work.

    I do agree that critical thinking is a shortcoming. Being critical is not, but critical thinking and informal logic are missing. Heather Mallick's latest political polemic about firearms was a key example - it lacked any sort of intellectual rigour or logic. And she's one of Canada's best journalists, allegedly.


    You should read the (sigh) Wikipedia entry on Mallick, she's an opinion columnist and not a journalist. I guess different standards must apply.

    WRT to your comments, I realize that you were talking about a libertarian government. I was speaking a bit more generally in that our populace isn't sufficiently critical to make even our current system work properly.

  5. Adler is a bit overdone.

    My biggest axe to grind with most of these online debates is that some as ill-informed and ignorant as Mallick is allowed to get up on her soapbox and get paid for writing drivel.

    Then this brings out all of her opponents, unfortunately drowning out legitemate criticisms of her illogic, her lack of rationality, and her lack of any sort of support for her arguments other than fear and emotionalism in a big sea of abuse and comments that make one feel embarassed to side with her critics (many of those comments are themselves ignorant, irrelevant, and in many cases, emotional rather than rational).

    It would be nice to see a forum that is not an 'opinion' forum, but simply one where arguments could be advanced in support of a position or proposition, critiques could be developed and posted that actually brought forth contrary data or logical weaknesses of the arguments advanced in support of the initial position or proposition, and then a back and forth discussion relying on rationality, facts, and simple logic would carry on until all reasonable information in support of both sides is posted.

    I despair of ever seeing this sort of forum anywhere - TV, print media, the Internet, or even academia.

    Of course, hacks like Mallick wouldn't deign to enter such a forum. Their only substance is emotion and fear and their tools rhetorical and manipulative - rationality and logic destroy their propositions and their indefensible illogic.


Polite and erudite comments by