Musings on Law

Scales of Justice

In theory the purpose of a system of laws is protect society. Killing and stealing from one another cause direct, specific harm, as well as put stress on the fabric of a peaceful society. To this end, we construct laws that establish these as Bad Things and a system of Consequences to reduce the amount of them that occur.

When a society consists of a single culture this is easier, because it’s easier to achieve a consistent viewpoint on Right and Wrong and what is Harmful. When a society consists of multiple cultures it becomes harder to gain a consensus on increasingly specific questions of Right and Wrong. It’s in the best interest of all cultures involved if they’re allowed the freedom to choose for themselves how to live, so long as they keep that within an agreed upon over-arching rule set everyone has to adhere to.

If not eating meat is important to you, don’t eat meat. Before you support a law to force everyone else to not eat meat you have to consider and accept that the law may also then be used to force you to do things you don’t agree with. Forcing all cultures to obey the beliefs of any other faction over their own is not protecting society. The people who already followed that belief are not gaining anything, and the people who are now forced to follow a system that isn’t their own are having their personal freedoms trampled upon. This in turn builds anger and resentment and destabilizes what could otherwise be a peaceful coexistence of cultures.

It’s very simple to tell if a law being suggested has overreached the intended purpose of that authority; Ask yourself who it protects. Ask yourself if you’d like to be on receiving end of a similar law. Ask yourself who is benefiting from the law. Three simple questions, but they can be eye opening when applied to legislation being offered up. Often laws are brought up under the guise of protecting society from itself by criminalizing something that a specific group or sub-culture disagrees with. Such codifications of personal beliefs into laws restricting, punishing, or limiting other people set dangerous precedent and should be opposed at all times.

In a representative democracy we choose people who will represent ourselves in establishing our laws. These people are responsible for representing everyone, but they often forget this and serve only a single facet of their constituents, usually the one that paid the most to get them elected.  Unfortunately this is exactly what they’re not meant to do, since one of the goals of a functional representative democracy is to ensure that the minorities are not oppressed by the majorities. This is why we have concepts like the filibuster, and checks and balances between branches.  This is why individuals must hold their elected officials accountable to serving the public as a whole. A representative who begins to veer towards micro-managing the lives of the people needs to brought back into check and refocused on the collective good, not individual concerns. They’re elected to improve the lives of all the people they represent and need to be channeled towards community building, economic development, infrastructure, education, public health and focus on the future.

When we fail to do that we hurt ourselves, we hurt our families, we hurt our future.


Article by Eos

Eos has multiple degrees in random topics and is a student for life of law, technology, comparative religion and culture. He works as a software developer by day, and freelance writer, game designer and entrepreneur by night.

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