"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Do We Really Need Another Law?

Jim at Parkway Rest Stop’s post on flag burning and the push for a constitutional amendment banning the desecration of the American flag, got us to thinking about what drives lawmakers to enact laws and the Supreme Court to rule as it does.

We elect people to federal, state and local offices and as soon as they’re sworn in, they think their job is to spend more money and pass new laws. Just think, when was the last time you heard about laws being taken off the books or total spending being cut?

Projecting into the future, at some point everything will be illegal and every dime earned will be taxed away and spent by government. We figure we are now at about the half-way mark towards that ultimate goal.

Let’s face it, all the basic laws necessary to protect life and property and to ensure a functioning society have long since been in place. Sure, as new technologies, businesses, etc. are introduced new laws may be required. When people began driving automobiles for example, motor vehicle laws became essential. But, how many new laws are enacted to regulate something new under the sun? Not many.

So lawmakers are now left with passing laws against things people find offensive or annoying. How else to explain why the city of Trenton has a law against throwing a pickle in the street? Generic littering or garbage dumping laws apparently couldn’t get this prickle throwing problem under control. Doesn’t it make you wonder what was going on in Trenton to move officials to enact such a law?

This brings us to a few suggestions for officials to take into consideration before passing any laws.

1. Is the proposed law essential to protecting life, property or the effective functioning of society? If the answer is no, do not enact the law. If the law will actually protect life or property, consider passing the law. If the answer is yes and the vague “effective functioning of society” reason is the basis, consider the next question before passing a new law.

2. Does the action happen often and when the action does occur, is it significantly disruptive to warrant passing a law to regulate the action or ban it entirely? If the answer is no, do not enact the law. If the answer is yes, consider this next question before passing a new law.

3. Is the action really disruptive and does it pose a real threat to a functioning society or is it merely found to be annoying, offensive or perhaps intimidating? If the answer is no, do not enact the law. If the answer is yes, consider this next question before passing a new law.

4. Is the proposed law consistent with the banning or regulation of similar actions? A few examples may be necessary to give a better understanding of this question.

A. The Supreme Court allows states to ban cross burning

B. The Supreme Court does not allow states to ban flag desecration

C. Trenton has banned pickle throwing – no Supreme Court ruling to date

All three actions may be seen as annoying, offensive and depending upon the circumstances, intimidating and leading to violence. All three may be considered “politically expressive conduct”. (Imagine pickles being thrown in the street as a form of protest had Heinz-Kerry been elected President.)

We find cross burning and flag desecration equally annoying, offensive and potentially intimidating. Thankfully, pickle throwing protests never became necessary, but if people can burn or otherwise desecrate flags in protest, shouldn’t we have the right to throw pickles? See what we mean, no consistency in the law with respect to banning and allowing actions?

Maybe we don’t need an amendment to the constitution to ban flag desecration. Maybe we just need officials to make laws and the Supreme Court to rule on annoying, offensive and intimidating things and actions in a consistent manner. They don’t, and as far as we are concerned that is the problem.


At 10:58 AM, Blogger Sluggo said...

I think we should create a cross made out of gherkins, take it to downtown Trenton and burn it. With a half-sour flag for good measure.

We will not be crucified on a cross of pickles!

At 11:25 PM, Anonymous Jim - PRS said...

Make the cross out of Kosher dills and use a Koran and a Bible for kindling. May as well piss off as many folks as possible.

Or, one could hang pickles in the courthouse and wait for the ACLU to claim that the state is endorsing Pickleism.

At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to say that if I ran for office it would be to pass no law and to spend no money (unless absolutely necessary). I wanted to streamline the statutes: toss out the pickle laws. I bet once we are done with that, there wouldn't be much left.

I now think if we could forbid lawmakers from naming things, they might be forced to do something productive. Allow someone else to commemorate. Highways should have numbers. That would certainly throw a bunch of people for a loop.

At 10:30 PM, Blogger RealDCC said...

Burning a flag is no where equivalent to burning a cross on someone's lawn. Unless, of course, if someone burns your flag in your front lawn.


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