Solution to America’s Over-Legislation and Over-Criminalization
Last month we explored over- legislation and over- criminalization in America and their adverse affects. This month, we will investigate a solution to these problems. As part of the solution, we will also examine what law actually is, what true crime is, and what rights are.
The solution to the problems of over- legislation and over- criminalization and the unjust effects that result is relatively simple. The solution is merely to stop making so many laws, to stop making anything and everything a crime, and to educate one’s self on what rights are. In addition, what laws we do make should be written in the common vernacular, explained using words even the most uneducated person could understand. In order to do these things, we must first look at what law actually is, what its purpose is, what a true crime is and is not, and what one’s rights actually are.
First, what is law and what is its purpose? Laws are eternal truths, eternal patterns if you will, which may at times be overridden by higher laws, but which are never destroyed. They may be discovered and abided by, but never destroyed. Such eternal laws are the laws of justice and mercy, neither robbing the other; the sanctity of life, liberty, and property, all of which are required to pursue one’s happiness; the law of gravity, which may be overridden by the laws of aerodynamics, etc. And then there are human laws, which may do nothing but reaffirm the laws of nature. These laws of nature are eternal truths that we can observe and discover via reason, logic, and observation. And man’s laws simply state these laws of nature as being applicable to a particular society who agree to live under them, attaching certain punishments equal to the crime of violating certain of these natural laws. One such example of a man made law that reaffirms a law of nature is the law against murder, which carries a punishment or consequence affixed to it for the safety of society and all the individuals who compose it.
What of the purposes of man- made laws and government? The Levellers, John Locke, and the Founding Fathers, who were influenced heavily by the former two, all believed that the end of government and laws is to protect the rights, liberty, and property of all individuals agreeing to live in that society, and to bring to justice the violators of those rights. They believed that laws, in order to be considered a law, must be inherently just, and that any unjust law is no law to begin with. Thus, any laws that violate the rights, liberty, or property of individuals in that society without due process (meaning a jury trial proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual is guilty of the crime and thus should be punished) are inherently unjust, and are not in fact laws. Consider again the law prohibiting and punishing murder. It’s an eternal truth that each person born on earth has a right to not have his life unjustly taken. Thus, the law against murder is merely a reaffirmation of this natural truth and law, and thus protects the right of men to live. Therefore, such a law is just and therefore truly a law, fitting the express and sole purpose of law and government.
Man cannot create or destroy the laws of nature. He can only observe, discover, and live by them. Because of this, man cannot actually create new laws. Just because a legislature passes legislation doesn’t mean it is law. The legislation must have the purpose of securing to each and every individual, equally, his/ her equal rights, equal liberty, and his/ her honestly and justly acquired property. The legislation must not unjustly violate the rights of individuals. It can also punish crime, meaning the intentional violation of the rights of another person. If the legislation meets these requirements, it is just, and is therefore a law. As soon as it becomes unjust in anyway by violating the rights and property of individuals, it ceases to be law, and is of no force or effect.
Finally, what is a right? A right is anything that a person my think, believe, or do that does not violate the equal rights of another human being. It should also be remembered that every right has a corresponding duty or responsibility inseparably connected to it, in the very least the responsibility of ensuring the protection of the same right to all other people.
Having a better idea of law and its purpose, what true crime is, and what rights are, the solution to America’s problem of over- legislation and over- criminalization is simple: reduce the laws of a city, county, state, or nation, by looking at all the laws on the books and determining whether the laws are actually laws, meaning they are inherently just because they protect the rights, liberty, and property of all individuals equally, enhancing instead of restraining freedom. If any law goes against these things, then it must be taken off the law books and no longer be enforced. When passing a criminal law, stop and think, is this law punishing an actual crime, or just an action or belief I don’t like? Is the action actually criminal, meaning does it punish and prohibit an intentional action that actually violates the rights of others? If any of these requirements are missing, it is no crime, and therefore must not be passed by the legislature. A true crime is an actual, intentional action that harms the true rights of others, or the attempt thereof.
We must stop making laws and declaring actions to be crimes willy-nilly, based upon mere likes and dislikes. This alone will solve the problem of both over- legislation and over- criminalization. Everything else merely perpetuates or adds to the problem.