22 January 2013

A shark jumping ham sandwich?

Glenn Reynolds has now published his promised (see previous post) article on due process in a time of over-regulation. He has called it Ham Sandwich Nation: Due Process When Everything is a Crime. You should read the whole thing. It's short. He encourages readers to offer their own suggestions for improvement. Do.

It has already generated some traction. At the Atlantic Conor Friedersdorf has a put out a piece entitled 8 Ways to Stop Overzealous Prosecutors from Destroying Lives and at The Volokh Conspiracy Randy Barnett has a long blog post on it.

I was entertained also by Glenn drawing attention the other day at Instapundit to this passage in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged:

Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against – then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now, that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”
Glenn comments that the US hasn't reached this state. Yet.

With Australian Federal Attorney General Nicola Roxon current proposed changes to Federal Anti- Discrimination Laws now potentially exposing all Australians to prosecution simply for someone taking offence at what they might say, we Australians may be fast approaching the state Dr Ferris describes in the above passage.

Nicola Roxon is a Fink.

I just wanted to get that statement in while I still think I can. That is without being prosecuted for "misogyny" (under in the new watered down, expanded and revised definition now adopted by the Macquarie Dictionary after the Prime Minister's manifestly incorrect use of the word under parliamentary privilege, but with such effective and acclaimed political venom against her male enemy) or "publicly supporting opposition to the rule of law", or some other new trumped up offence. One gets the distinct feeling with the current ruling mob that it's only a matter of time before such behaviours will be criminalised.

I take offence that there are so many offences. So who do I sue? The guvmint?

17 January 2013

Have we "jumped the shark" with over-regulation?

 "Rule of Law" now imperilled by too much law

Glenn Reynolds has recently linked to an article by David French entitled "David Gregory and the Decline of the Rule of Law".  In it French asks:

"Can we even speak of the rule of law as a meaningful concept when we combine an explosive regulatory state with near-absolute prosecutorial discretion?”

This link appears as part of seemingly growing series of cross linkages that Reynolds is apparently accumulating for an imminent scholarly piece he says he is putting together on the theme "Due Process When Everything is a Crime".

In the western world we are now not just drowning in a sea of over-regulation from our over-zealous legislatures and bureaucracies. It seems that as well our law making institutions are bizarrely indifferent to the fate that its citizens labour under in the vast byzantine morass of freedom depleting strictures and criminalised triviality we now live with. But society may well have already unconsciously reached the point when the Rule of Law is, for all practical purposes, a laughably theoretical concept ignored as a guiding principle by the majority of the populous. It seems almost trite to observe now that most citizens implicitly recognise the inevitability of committing inadvertant breaches of the law in any ambitious project (opening a business?) or even in doing mundane ordinary human activities (driving a car?).  The Rule of Law, formerly one of the cornerstones of our civilization, may now have been subtlety and insideously replaced by a new dominant paradigm: Do What Can You Get Away With.

We await an event that will crystallise this pre-existing community consciousness and which catches the popular imagination. It seems plausible to envisage some popular form of social media catching fire with indignation at some innocent celebrity prosecuted for some trifling indiscretion, prompting the mass market media to create a cause celebre. If this does finally happen maybe then we can say our modern democracies have "jumped the shark" on over-regulation. We may then have reached the moment, as when the Fonz water ski jumped over a shark in Happy Days, when we can openly acknowledge that the decline in quality is beyond recovery.

There is still a remote hope that, if such a "shark jumping" event ever occurs, from amongst the countless pointless criminal prosecutions, the citizens of the western world may see and acknowledge the folly of what we have wrought with the criminalisation of nearly all conduct. Maybe then we will then have the political conditions in which a serious effort can be made to wind back and seriously reduce the absurd volume of ours laws and regulations.

We might be waiting for a while for that though. It requires brave politicians.

15 January 2013

Mankind's reckless endangerment of other species

More evidence has recently come to light of Mankind's pitiless destruction of other species in its relentless self-interested march to complete planetary domination and, hubristically it is hoped, to its own inevitable demise.

The pubic louse is now an endangered species, apparently due to the viral new fashion preference in urban society for bikini waxes. There is now so little viable habitat for the poor pubic louse that it has been unable to breed in sufficient numbers to maintain its population.

We surely now need a public campaign to preserve the pubic louse and its habitat. It could have a slogan like: "Keep Bush. Save the Louse". That might generate enough itch for the luvvies to have a good old fashioned scratch.