On 11/7/2013 2:47 PM, Telmo Menezes wrote:
On Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 11:12 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
On 11/6/2013 6:42 PM, Chris de Morsella wrote:

Either all humans enjoy human rights or none do.

Human rights are a human invention.

As soon as a class of persons is created that are stripped of their basic
human rights society is on a slippery slope down into the dark hell of

Are you repeating the common political rhetoric that refers to people who
have been convicted of a crime as "criminals" as though that defined a
class, like "women" or "laborer"?  I think that is a pernicious view point;
one which is used to justify an "us vs. them" mentality and "the war on
crime".  There is no "criminal class", there are just people who have
committed crimes.  I commit a crime every day: exceeding the speed limit,
and so do 90% of the other people on the freeway.

Laws are passed with the idea and understanding that they will only be
selectively enforced.
You are right, but I don't believe most people understand this. This
is why populism and "being tough on crime" is such a dangerous
tendency, but the root of the problem is that too many laws exist. We
should demand less laws, simpler laws and we should demand for the
effects of laws to be measured and have them removed if they don't

Yes, I think it would be very useful to have a formal process for removing laws from the books. Once in a while a legislative committee will introduce a bill to repeal a whole package of obsolete laws, which is good but doesn't get to the heart of the problem. I don't think it would work have a separate un-legislature or a judicial body. One possibility would be to require that there be a standing committee in every legislature whose only power was to offer bills repealing laws.

In short, law-making is too important and hard to be left to the
non-scientifically minded. I won't hold my breath though .

  This is why it is disturbing to see the proliferation
of high-tech law enforcement: drones, GPS tracking, eavesdropping, cameras.

People realize that there are so many laws and so many poorly crafted laws
that if every violation of every law was caught and prosecuted we'd all end
up in jail.
I don't think the majority of people realise it. This is why the
populist "nothing to hide" argument works. The majority of people
confuse social norms with laws. They want people that deviate for the
norms to be punished -- already a violent desire -- but they don't
understand how little the actual law has to do what they imagine it to

And this is not due to some evil politicians plot.
To a degree. The politicians are evil when they pander to a majority
that is much bellow their level of understanding of reality for the
single purpose of obtaining power, instead of fighting to raise actual

Except that "pandering to a majority" equals getting elected. I can see that is very difficult for a politician to provide the kind of leadership you want; much more difficult than in the past because talk radio, TV and the punditry continually sell people on the idea that politicians (at least those on the other side) are the problem, that they are venal, corrupt, self-serving, ignorant, fascists, socialists, communists, traitors, etc. That government is inherently oppressive, wasteful, and degenerate. And that "the people" always know best (no matter how ignorant they are) and if everybody were just *free* things would be great.

So I don't give the electorate a free pass. Democracy is good, but it requires an *informed* electorate. Not one that just votes it's prejudices and elects people who tell it how great it is. Not a bunch of narrow minded people who think their opinions define the norm and without the evil government everyone who agreed with them would naturally be on top.

  The same people who
routinely drive 80mph on the freeway, *want* the speed limit set to 65 or
70, because those *other people* are driving too fast. The same people who
smoke cigarettes want marijuana to be illegal.  If you've ever been on a
jury you know that most people are quick to condemn any deviation from what
they consider the norm.  Being liberal and tolerant doesn't come naturally.
And I think it's harder the poorer you are. White supremacists come
mostly from the working class, not so much from doctors, professors or
other people with cushy lives. Religious fundamentalism comes from the
disenfranchised, the people voting for Marine Le Pen in France mostly
don't have a view to the Eiffel Tower and so on.

Sure, the lower you are on the totem pole the more important it becomes to make sure there's somebody below you.

This brings up the paradox of crime & punishment. Whenever a person is
punished by society in some way and their rights are restricted this creates
a risk. Now obviously some people need to be imprisoned – not nearly as many
as are in fact imprisoned, but some people are violent anti-social and
commit harm on others.
I agree. In my view, the judicial system should exist purely to create
a disincentive for crime and to protect society from people that would
commit harm to others if left free. It should not be retributive --
that just propagates the violence.

Historically, the state took over the punishment of crimes in order to avoid cycles of retribution, aka feuds and vendettas. So there had to be enough retribution to satisfy the victims. I think as we become more civilized that can decrease.


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