Sunday, December 9, 2007

What is a law?

Sometimes I ask my students this question. What is a law? I get answers's a rule, it tells you what you should or shouldn't do, etc.

We must understand that a law is a moral statement. It is a statement by society that says that we think certain things are good and certain things are bad. Take a stop sign. How can that be a moral statement? Take the purpose of the stop is to prevent large hunks of metal carrying human beings around from smashing into one another, thereby causing injury, destruction and general mayhem.

Society has determined that these latter results are bad, therefore laws are passed to prevent these bad things. So, when one performs a california stop, he is wary of law enforcers.

Why are the law enforcers given the rights to enforce a ticket on you? Because they have guns? Cars with pretty lights? Badges? No, because we believe as a society that injury, destruction and mayhem are bad, and it is the law enforcers job to punish the bad and reward the good.

This is one reason why earmarks are morally repugnant--they are supposed to be making clear moral statements, all the while buying votes with my money.


Luke said...

I think you should write a book soon. I will buy it. I also know a lot of literary agents so maybe someone else could buy it too. :-)

Ive been on a reading kick lately. Any recomendations youve come across lately?

Hope your doing well man, praying for you!

Anonymous said...

..."it is the law enforcers job to punish"... This is a false statement. It is the court's job to punish, not the cop on the street. The cop who thinks that it is his job to punish, is the cop who abuses--i.e., after a ticket or arrest "goes the extra mile" in word or deed to teach the "dirt bag" a lesson. Law enforcement's job is to enforce the law in a professional and impersonal way.

White Bear

By the way--did you perhaps include the judge in your term law enforcer?

Daniel said...


Thanks for the clarification. Upon reflection, my terms were confusing. In the same paragraph, I only used illustrations to indicate police officers. Then encompassed the legal system in my last phrase.

Your point is absolutely true and accurate. Law enforcers only punish to the extent the law provides. When they go the extra mile, they become vigilantes.

The courts have more leeway to sentence once the fact of guilt has been established beyond reasonable doubt, but even then their limits are imposed by legal statutes.

So, this brings us back to the gravity of the lawmakers' job, and why it infuriates us when they use it flippantly or for personal gain.

Thanks for lending your many years of experience to the discussion! Welcome!