The Rule of Law

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Let me try one more time.

A lot of you have been outraged at Senator Hatch’s comments the other day, and you don’t understand why I find the whole thing amusing.

The reason why I find it amusing is the outrage when your own rules are being applied against you, when someone just suggests it should operate by your rules, that the world does to you what you do unto others.

You don’t want laws to apply to you? Fine, but if you want a world where you are outside the law, that means you aren’t protected by them, either.

In a world where law doesn’t exist, it would be OK for you to steal, but then it would be just as OK for people to do whatever it takes to stop you. Forget about killing your computer, killing you would be just as fine in a world without law.

If you think that law shouldn’t apply to your actions, then why should any of it? Not only the parts that says you can’t do this to others, but also the parts that say they can’t do this to you.

Law is a two-way street. It may stop you from doing some things you’d like to do, but it also stops others from doing certain things they might like to do to you.

Law is not a Chinese menu; you can’t pick the parts you like and ignore the parts you don’t like.

Of course the idea of vigilantes zapping your computer is outrageous according to the rule of law. But so is all this stealing. What legal rights do the MP3ers accord the music and movie companies? What due process do they give the record or movie companies? What legal procedings do they give them?

None.

So if you don’t do any of these things for others, why should they do it for you?

So if you do this unto others, why can’t they do it unto you?

Either taking the law into your own hands is good for everyone, or it is bad for everyone. You cannot say it is good for you and bad for everyone else.

This is why the rule of law is good. This is why civilizations need law, to keep people from doing bad things to each other.

What An Outlaw Really Is

When you hear the word “outlaw,” you probably think about some Wild West bad guy.

Actually, the term has a much longer history. The term “outlaw” goes back to medieval times, and describes someone for whom it was ruled was outside the protection of the law.

One rather big side effect on this was that since the outlaw was outside the law, anybody could do anything he wanted to the outlaw. That included killing him, for any reason or no reason at all, and it was no crime at all.

This wasn’t too good for the outlaw.

Of course, none of the MP3ers want to be that kind of outlaw. They want none of the restrictions or responsibilities of law, but all of its protections.

Get real. This is why no one taking this position will be taken the least bit seriously in the halls of government. How could anyone take “Protect my rights, and never mind what I do to the rights of others” seriously? You have to be seriously self-centered AND deluded to think that could possibly work.

Not that this is uncommon. Criminals think this way, too. This is why they get into trouble. That’s why this bothers me so much. It’s not the actions so much as the attitude that justifies it. You may not end up in jail over MP3ing, but apply that attitude to life in general, and eventually, you will.

Alternatives

Please note that there’s a big, big difference between saying, “I am not subject to your laws, Mr. Congressman” and saying, “Maybe at least some of what I’m doing ought to be legal, Mr. Congressman.”

It’s the first I’m calling retarded, not the second. The first rejects the rule of law; the second accepts it. The first just makes you a criminal in a society; the second makes you a citizen.

Ed

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