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What does the prison system of America say about Americans?

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  • kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    poshniallo wrote: »
    Nowadays, I think the arguments behind 'breaking the law is not immoral' are so well-known and so obvious that anyone ignoring them deserves to be ignored themselves.

    That defeats the point of "debate," you know?

    Anyways, the problem with that line of reasoning is that laws can't just be a "suggestion." Humans, as a species, are just not mature enough to live in a world where there's no punishment for certain actions. It'd be a disaster.

    You can't just pick and choose which laws you want to follow and which you don't, and then get upset when breaking the law causes you hardship. If you think a law needs to be change, and you think breaking it to show how non-harmful or whatever the law is is the best way (a la civil disobedience), then that's fine, good for you. But you have to realize that's not an easy road.

    Doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, or that you are immoral for breaking the law, but you should get punished. And hopefully, if the law is stupid, right away people realize that and change it and pardon you and whatever. But it usually takes a bit of time, and during that time you'll have to suffer consequences. Because otherwise we have to get really arbitrary with which laws are "okay to ignore" and which ones aren't, and I don't think there's a good way to do that.

    To bring this back on target a bit, if you sell drugs or grow illegal drugs, you should be punished for it however the law says. And if the law is wrong (which in this case, it is in ways), then we should work hard to change that. Changing the law is the best way to improve the situation of people going to prison for ridiculous reasons and lengths. Breaking the law and saying "well it shouldn't be a law anyways!" is not.

    Edit: The reason that prisoner's shouldn't be able to vote is because: if prison is punishment, then this goes along with that and they can vote when their punishment is over; if prison is rehabilitation, then they shouldn't be able to vote until they have once again become of sound mind and have the interests of others/the nation in mind.

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  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    Fencingsax wrote:
    poshniallo wrote:
    Lucid wrote:
    Regarding obeying the law because it's the law; aren't there laws forbidding different sexual acts in various states? Wasn't homosexuality illegal at some point?

    So, using the aforementioned logic, a person should submit to these laws just because?

    Another good point.

    Nowadays, I think the arguments behind 'breaking the law is not immoral' are so well-known and so obvious that anyone ignoring them deserves to be ignored themselves.

    Hell I think I was about 13 years old, in the hoary pre-internet days, when I worked that one out.

    I believe you are missing the word "necessarily".

    I thought of putting a caveat like that in, but it's not important. Acts are immoral or not regardless of whether they're illegal. By using the word necessarily you're implying that there's some moral force to the law. There isn't. Morality is not what is legislated.

    Breaking the law is not immoral. Morality and the law are different classes of rules. The law could change to be anything, anything at all, and morality would not change. This is one of those logical necessities that people have a hard time accepting because it's not what society tells us.

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    poshniallo wrote: »
    I thought of putting a caveat like that in, but it's not important. Acts are immoral or not regardless of whether they're illegal. By using the word necessarily you're implying that there's some moral force to the law. There isn't. Morality is not what is legislated.

    Breaking the law is not immoral. Morality and the law are different classes of rules. The law could change to be anything, anything at all, and morality would not change. This is one of those logical necessities that people have a hard time accepting because it's not what society tells us.

    It's not necessarily immoral, but it also doesn't mean it should be nonpunishable.

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  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    kime wrote:
    Doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, or that you are immoral for breaking the law, but you should get punished.

    Does this include, say, Nigeria, where homosexuality is punishable by stoning?

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    kime wrote:
    poshniallo wrote: »
    Nowadays, I think the arguments behind 'breaking the law is not immoral' are so well-known and so obvious that anyone ignoring them deserves to be ignored themselves.

    That defeats the point of "debate," you know?

    Anyways, the problem with that line of reasoning is that laws can't just be a "suggestion." Humans, as a species, are just not mature enough to live in a world where there's no punishment for certain actions. It'd be a disaster.

    You can't just pick and choose which laws you want to follow and which you don't, and then get upset when breaking the law causes you hardship. If you think a law needs to be change, and you think breaking it to show how non-harmful or whatever the law is is the best way (a la civil disobedience), then that's fine, good for you. But you have to realize that's not an easy road.

    Doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, or that you are immoral for breaking the law, but you should get punished. And hopefully, if the law is stupid, right away people realize that and change it and pardon you and whatever. But it usually takes a bit of time, and during that time you'll have to suffer consequences. Because otherwise we have to get really arbitrary with which laws are "okay to ignore" and which ones aren't, and I don't think there's a good way to do that.

    To bring this back on target a bit, if you sell drugs or grow illegal drugs, you should be punished for it however the law says. And if the law is wrong (which in this case, it is in ways), then we should work hard to change that. Changing the law is the best way to improve the situation of people going to prison for ridiculous reasons and lengths. Breaking the law and saying "well it shouldn't be a law anyways!" is not.

    Edit: The reason that prisoner's shouldn't be able to vote is because: if prison is punishment, then this goes along with that and they can vote when their punishment is over; if prison is rehabilitation, then they shouldn't be able to vote until they have once again become of sound mind and have the interests of others/the nation in mind.

    Civil disobedience is itself usually breaking the law.

    I haven't said we don't need laws - they are incredibly important. But laws are a way to manage society, not an expression of morality. It is necessary for society to function that lawbreakers be punished. Using the legal process to change the laws is an excellent way to do that.

    I am not saying 'all lawbreaking is moral'. I'm saying they have no innate connection. Illegal acts are neither immoral nor moral. Immoral acts are neither illegal nor legal (e.g. not calling your mother on her birthday because you're a dick isn't illegal, cheating on your spouse for decades is not illegal, being an utter shithead to everyone you know is not illegal, pursuing political office with the express purpose of outlawing homosexuality or whatever is not illegal).

    And your reasoning about prison is damaging to society, and makes no sense. You could use it to argue we do anything at all to prisoners.

    Oh, and I am happy to debate this stuff, but there is a certain level of ignorance and refusal to listen to arguments beyond which I think it's OK to just give up on the person (not you mind!).

    You just can't talk to some people.

    poshniallo on
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  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    I'm pretty proud of the arguments I made in favor of civil disobedience in this thread, so I'm just going to shamelessly pimp it: http://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/141027/even-insert-group-deserves-a-vigorous-defense/p4


    Feral wrote:
    Fundamentally, the question is: does the law extend from morality, or does morality extend from the law? Morality must have primacy or else the justification for the law is incoherent. It makes no sense for the law to be above morality. That means that when the law is imperfect, and it comes into conflict with morality, then breaking it may be justified.

    But because the law does serve a moral purpose, it is not forfeit. To disregard the law entirely because of specific unjust laws is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    poshniallo wrote:
    I don't even know why people in prison can't vote, except for the usual 'punish the wicked' thing.

    Everyone should get to vote. No exceptions. But rights-based political discourse puts voting as a right, which can then be removed from the wicked. It's not that simple. When people are disenfranchised, they get ignored, and when you ignore parts of your society, it's damaging not just to them, but to the rest of society as well. If your prisoners could vote, then they would be voting in ways that helped to reduce prison populations by alleviating the causes of crime (poverty, lack of social mobility etc).
    I think assuming that people vote in their own best interest is probably being naively optimistic. However, I really don't think it's fair to count a prison population as residents for the purposes of a census, then not let them vote if they're over 18. Honestly, I don't think it's constitutional, but the Supreme Court would clearly disagree.

  • kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    I don't think that's the correct place to stop listening. While I agree it's an incorrect jump, it's not a particularly far jump to go from "you shouldn't break laws" to "breaking laws is immoral."

    And I think this pseudo-tangent started because people were arguing (or expressing displeasure) that drug dealers went to prison after being caught, because the laws are silly anyways. Then Modern Man said all citizens had an obligation to follow the law, and then he got shouted down for it.

    But it seems, now, that we are in agreement with that? Laws aren't necessarily moral, but they should be followed?

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  • TyphusTyphus Registered User
    Feral wrote:
    I'm pretty proud of the arguments I made in favor of civil disobedience in this thread, so I'm just going to shamelessly pimp it: http://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/141027/even-insert-group-deserves-a-vigorous-defense/p4


    Feral wrote:
    Fundamentally, the question is: does the law extend from morality, or does morality extend from the law? Morality must have primacy or else the justification for the law is incoherent. It makes no sense for the law to be above morality. That means that when the law is imperfect, and it comes into conflict with morality, then breaking it may be justified.

    But because the law does serve a moral purpose, it is not forfeit. To disregard the law entirely because of specific unjust laws is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Except given the multitude of moral values in any given grouping of peoples to which a law must apply, giving primacy to a moral system is a) potentially oppressive and/or b) incoherent.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    poshniallo wrote:
    I don't even know why people in prison can't vote, except for the usual 'punish the wicked' thing.

    Ideally, they should get to vote. I agree.

    Pragmatically, I think that changing the law so that felons can vote after they've served their time is far more feasible than giving them back their voting rights while incarcerated. Prison voting puts the onus on the prisons to manage the actual ballots, which means they'd ask for more funding (somebody's gotta shuffle all that paper come October/November), which complicates the change in policy.

    Also, to be completely blunt, I don't trust prisons to do it fairly. I think letting prisons handle ballots is a really good way to make sure there's suddenly 2 million extra votes for Senator John Q. McFundsprisonstoughoncrime.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    shryke wrote:
    Thanatos wrote:
    Physical harm is neither the only nor the most damaging type of harm that exists.

    We just had an entire financial collapse that destroyed the lives of millions proving that, in fact, white-collar crime is far more dangerous.
    Except most of the transactions that took place were legal. There was white-collar crime, but the entire financial collapse was caused by millions of stupid people making poor decisions, and thousands of greedy organizations taking advantage of stupid people. So a large mass of people being stupid is more dangerous than small time physical crime? of course, but someone skimming a couple hundred thousand from a international corporation is going to cause less harm, physical and financial than one child molester who exercises their sickness once.

    zepherin on
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    Typhus wrote:
    Except given the multitude of moral values in any given grouping of peoples to which a law must apply, giving primacy to a moral system is a) potentially oppressive and/or b) incoherent.

    By implying that "oppressive" is a bad thing, you acknowledge a moral value. IE, non-oppressive systems of governments are morally better than oppressive systems of governments. The basic nature of your argument is that "the law should conform to {insert moral value here}."

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    zepherin wrote:
    Except most of the transactions that took place were legal. There was white-collar crime, but the entire financial collapse was caused by millions of stupid people making poor decisions, and thousands of greedy organizations taking advantage of stupid people. So a large mass of people being stupid is more dangerous than small time physical crime? of course, but someone skimming a couple hundred thousand from a international corporation is going to cause less harm, physical and financial than one child molester who exercises their sickness once.

    Right, I was thinking something similar to this. Broad clumsy comparisons lead us to stupid discussions like, "Which is worse: raping and killing 10 children, or stealing $100k from an insurance company?" and I don't think that's a road we want to go down.

    I think the point we could probably agree on is that white collar crime has the potential to be more damaging than violent crime and its unjust that white collar criminals can ruin the lives of thousands or millions of people and go unpunished.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • TyphusTyphus Registered User
    edited October 2011
    Feral wrote:
    Typhus wrote:
    Except given the multitude of moral values in any given grouping of peoples to which a law must apply, giving primacy to a moral system is a) potentially oppressive and/or b) incoherent.

    By implying that "oppressive" is a bad thing, you acknowledge a moral value. IE, non-oppressive systems of governments are morally better than oppressive systems of governments. The basic nature of your argument is that "the law should conform to {insert moral value here}."

    Intirim answer: Maybe a better way of phrasing my concern should be. "Whose moral system of values do we give primacy over the law to?"

    More full answer: I'm not claiming that moral systems are a bad way of making individual value judgements in general, I am saying that basing the law on a particular set of value judgements seems at odds with what the law ought to be achieving.

    My judgement on oppressiveness is based both in my moral values and in the empirical evidence given by history regarding the effectiveness of oppressive regimes as systems of governance.

    Edit2: prescriptive statements are not necessarily based in morality here.

    Typhus on
  • AtomikaAtomika VALJEAN! AT LAST! WE SEE EACH OTHER PLAINLY! A MAN . . . . . . SUCH AS YOURegistered User regular
    Typhus wrote:
    "Whose moral system of values do we give primacy over the law to?"

    Hopefully, an educated college of the population vis a vis a forthright legislative representation.


    I think that was the original plan.

  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    Feral wrote:
    Right, I was thinking something similar to this. Broad clumsy comparisons lead us to stupid discussions like, "Which is worse: raping and killing 10 children, or stealing $100k from an insurance company?" and I don't think that's a road we want to go down.

    I think the point we could probably agree on is that white collar crime has the potential to be more damaging than violent crime and its unjust that white collar criminals can ruin the lives of thousands or millions of people and go unpunished.
    I can agree with that. Although for most criminals I don't think punishment is what we should be aiming for. I think we need to focus on rehabilitation, and providing options. Especially for first time offenders.

  • UltimaBuddyUltimaBuddy Registered User
    edited October 2011
    Honestly, we might need to just scrap the entire legal system and start over from page one.

    I posit that there's a universal set of rules among all cultures. We should start with the obvious ones (Don't kill. Don't steal. Don't infringe on another's rights.) that everyone can pretty much agree upon. You know, the laws that deal with how you shouldn't do harm to other people. Then, maybe some disincentives so people are steered away from things that might harm them.

    If marijuana is honestly as harmful to a person as is claimed, the appropriate punishment should be the equivalent of a parking ticket. With jail/prison only dangled over their head after months of failing to pay.

    The harder drugs would be the same, with mandatory rehabilitation in place of jail and steeper fines.

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  • The Big LevinskyThe Big Levinsky Registered User regular
    kime wrote:
    Then Modern Man said all citizens had an obligation to follow the law, and then he got shouted down for it.

    This is incorrect. He was shouted down because of his assumption that all criminals were scumbags and deserve to be savaged by our legal system no matter how unfair the law or desperate the criminal's situation.

    He, and others, go on to posit that this is the correct way of looking at things because the laws were passed legally and in a democratic society. I think many others in the forum are saying that the belief that the United States is still a fair and democratic society is nothing but pure fantasy at this point. Does the right for We The People to change the laws theoretically exist? Yes. Is it actually viable in the face of economic reality? No.

  • chrisnlchrisnl Registered User regular
    The problem with legislating from a moral standpoint seems to be the question of whose morals do we legislate based off of? I can guarantee there is a large group of people in the United States of America that believe homosexuality is immoral. There was quite a hub-bub over Dungeons & Dragons being immoral, or Harry Potter being immoral because it has witches in it. So I suppose what we are left with is legislating to the morals of the majority? That doesn't seem like a terribly good idea either, as parts of the Constitution are written to ensure that the majority doesn't trample the rights and opinions of the minority. Majority rule has a lot of problems with it, and thankfully our current system has some safeguards built into it, but it is still far from perfect. I don't see a better solution than what we theoretically have, now if only we could elect people that actually respect the Constitution and the way things were designed to work.

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  • kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    I posit that there's a universal set of rules among all cultures. We should start with the obvious ones (Don't kill. Don't steal. Don't infringe on another's rights.) that everyone can pretty much agree upon.

    But that's not true.

    And even if we accept that as being true, you won't get an entire legal code out of "don't do harm." It's just not complex enough.
    kime wrote:
    Then Modern Man said all citizens had an obligation to follow the law, and then he got shouted down for it.

    This is incorrect. He was shouted down because of his assumption that all criminals were scumbags and deserve to be savaged by our legal system no matter how unfair the law or desperate the criminal's situation.

    He, and others, go on to posit that this is the correct way of looking at things because the laws were passed legally and in a democratic society. I think many others in the forum are saying that the belief that the United States is still a fair and democratic society is nothing but pure fantasy at this point. Does the right for We The People to change the laws theoretically exist? Yes. Is it actually viable in the face of economic reality? No.
    Julius wrote: »
    You don't have the obligation to follow all laws whether you agree with them or not. That's a ridiculous viewpoint.

    That's the most blatant one, but a few posts around it also directly argue against the fact that laws should be obeyed because they are laws (etc)

    I'm not saying that was the only thing people disagreed with, of course.

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  • The Big LevinskyThe Big Levinsky Registered User regular
    Honestly, we might need to just scrap the entire legal system and start over from page one.

    I disagree. I think the legal system (and most of our other public institutions) can be saved by taking money out of politics - to find a way to prevent wealth from being a vote multiplier. So long as politicians can't win elections without the backing of the rich, we'll never see any meaningful reform.

  • Anon the FelonAnon the Felon In bat country.Registered User regular
    chrisnl wrote:
    ...now if only we could elect people that actually respect the Constitution and the way things were designed to work.

    If only we could elect people who would take it upon themselves to actually do the very hard job of undoing all the work done by presidents who worked so hard to ruin the freedoms and ability to act.

    I'd like to see some people in the federal system who want to do something. It seems these days the justice system just gets to run around doing what it wants. Law's get made without going to congress, thanks to fancy footwork and "precedent" setting the stage for pesudo-laws that are recognized and enforced, but never see the congressional floor.

  • UltimaBuddyUltimaBuddy Registered User
    edited October 2011
    kime wrote:
    I posit that there's a universal set of rules among all cultures. We should start with the obvious ones (Don't kill. Don't steal. Don't infringe on another's rights.) that everyone can pretty much agree upon.

    But that's not true.

    And even if we accept that as being true, you won't get an entire legal code out of "don't do harm." It's just not complex enough.

    I am sorry for parsing words here, but I said start with. I wasn't proposing a 3-law system.

    I meant to convey that those would be the basic tenets from which laws should be made. We could look at each situation in terms of how much harm it does to everybody, then determine a standard punishment.

    I agree with Anon's statement
    I'd like to see some people in the federal system who want to do something. It seems these days the justice system just gets to run around doing what it wants. Law's get made without going to congress, thanks to fancy footwork and "precedent" setting the stage for pesudo-laws that are recognized and enforced, but never see the congressional floor.


    Honestly, we might need to just scrap the entire legal system and start over from page one.

    I disagree. I think the legal system (and most of our other public institutions) can be saved by taking money out of politics - to find a way to prevent wealth from being a vote multiplier. So long as politicians can't win elections without the backing of the rich, we'll never see any meaningful reform.


    Maybe we should try something like in the UK, where they're only allowed to campaign on TV 1 or 2 months before the election.

    Here's another idea, make the major networks set aside free designated commercial times for each campaigner, so that they don't have to raise thousands to millions of dollars just to register as a blip. These commercial times would be for those 2 months.

    I'm not saying it's a perfect idea or even a good one, but maybe we can start from here.



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  • kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    kime wrote:
    I posit that there's a universal set of rules among all cultures. We should start with the obvious ones (Don't kill. Don't steal. Don't infringe on another's rights.) that everyone can pretty much agree upon.

    But that's not true.

    And even if we accept that as being true, you won't get an entire legal code out of "don't do harm." It's just not complex enough.

    I am sorry for parsing words here, but I said start with. I wasn't proposing a 3-law system. I meant to convey that those would be the basic tenets from which laws should be made. Excuse me for not being clear.

    I know, your basic tenets are "don't do harm to yourself or others," right? I'm not saying the specific laws (Don't kill, steal, infringe on rights) are the whole system. But what I am saying is that that's not enough to be able to say "and then you build it up from there."

    I mean, you could pretty much say that's how ours started. But then it has to change and grow, it has to be complex because people are complex, and you're just seeing the end result.

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  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    kime wrote:
    I posit that there's a universal set of rules among all cultures. We should start with the obvious ones (Don't kill. Don't steal. Don't infringe on another's rights.) that everyone can pretty much agree upon.

    But that's not true.

    And even if we accept that as being true, you won't get an entire legal code out of "don't do harm." It's just not complex enough.
    kime wrote:
    Then Modern Man said all citizens had an obligation to follow the law, and then he got shouted down for it.

    This is incorrect. He was shouted down because of his assumption that all criminals were scumbags and deserve to be savaged by our legal system no matter how unfair the law or desperate the criminal's situation.

    He, and others, go on to posit that this is the correct way of looking at things because the laws were passed legally and in a democratic society. I think many others in the forum are saying that the belief that the United States is still a fair and democratic society is nothing but pure fantasy at this point. Does the right for We The People to change the laws theoretically exist? Yes. Is it actually viable in the face of economic reality? No.
    Julius wrote: »
    You don't have the obligation to follow all laws whether you agree with them or not. That's a ridiculous viewpoint.

    That's the most blatant one, but a few posts around it also directly argue against the fact that laws should be obeyed because they are laws (etc)

    I'm not saying that was the only thing people disagreed with, of course.

    Actually, that's exactly what you just did.

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    poshniallo wrote: »
    kime wrote:
    I'm not saying that was the only thing people disagreed with, of course.

    Actually, that's exactly what you just did.

    Errr.... Where? I didn't mean to say that, and I don't see it in what you quoted, is it somewhere else?

    Either way, not my intention. He was argued against with other things, too. Just that there were several posts specifically against the idea that you are obligated to follow the law.

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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    kime wrote:
    poshniallo wrote: »
    I thought of putting a caveat like that in, but it's not important. Acts are immoral or not regardless of whether they're illegal. By using the word necessarily you're implying that there's some moral force to the law. There isn't. Morality is not what is legislated.

    Breaking the law is not immoral. Morality and the law are different classes of rules. The law could change to be anything, anything at all, and morality would not change. This is one of those logical necessities that people have a hard time accepting because it's not what society tells us.

    It's not necessarily immoral, but it also doesn't mean it should be nonpunishable.

    I'm picking this post to quote because it's really hard to figure out what you're advocating.

    edit:
    Just that there were several posts specifically against the idea that you are obligated to follow the law.

    awesome, but so what?

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  • UltimaBuddyUltimaBuddy Registered User
    kime wrote:
    I know, your basic tenets are "don't do harm to yourself or others," right? I'm not saying the specific laws (Don't kill, steal, infringe on rights) are the whole system. But what I am saying is that that's not enough to be able to say "and then you build it up from there."

    I mean, you could pretty much say that's how ours started. But then it has to change and grow, it has to be complex because people are complex, and you're just seeing the end result.

    Maybe we just need to prune the legal system.

    Some laws are just superfluous and some punishments are just vindictive. Those are the ones that should be done away with.

    Even if we don't start from scratch, we have to look at which laws are unnecessary because they are unenforceable and/or too vague and unwieldy.

    What's the point of having old laws on the books that nobody bothers with?

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  • kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    kime wrote:
    poshniallo wrote: »
    I thought of putting a caveat like that in, but it's not important. Acts are immoral or not regardless of whether they're illegal. By using the word necessarily you're implying that there's some moral force to the law. There isn't. Morality is not what is legislated.

    Breaking the law is not immoral. Morality and the law are different classes of rules. The law could change to be anything, anything at all, and morality would not change. This is one of those logical necessities that people have a hard time accepting because it's not what society tells us.

    It's not necessarily immoral, but it also doesn't mean it should be nonpunishable.

    I'm picking this post to quote because it's really hard to figure out what you're advocating.

    edit:
    Just that there were several posts specifically against the idea that you are obligated to follow the law.

    awesome, but so what?

    You may not view a law as moral, but if you don't follow it you should expect to be punished by the system. Some people seemed to think that was not the case since they considered being obligated to follow the law an incredulous thing.

    I was responding to that.

    The point, as related to prisons, was that we are unnecessarily sending people to prison for breaking laws that shouldn't be laws anyways.

    Does that clear things up for both your questions? If not, what specifically doesn't make sense?

    @UltimaBuddy: It definitely needs to be pruned. I concur 100%.

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  • The Big LevinskyThe Big Levinsky Registered User regular
    Maybe we should try something like in the UK, where they're only allowed to campaign on TV 1 or 2 months before the election.

    Here's another idea, make the major networks set aside free designated commercial times for each campaigner, so that they don't have to raise thousands to millions of dollars just to register as a blip. These commercial times would be for those 2 months.

    I'm not saying it's a perfect idea or even a good one, but maybe we can start from here.

    Interesting idea. Though the idea itself isn't really the problem. Let's say someone comes up with a hypothetical solution that perfectly separates wealth from politics. All of our current, US politicians were elected primarily with contributions from the wealthy. How do you enact legislation that strips power from the wealthy and gives it back to the majority? The wealthy can use their power to influence politicians and use mass media to fracture popular support.

    This is really getting off topic though.

  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    This insertion of a "the law is the law!" canard into the discussion makes things kind of nonsensical when the discussion is about changing it.

    Saying "we shouldn't send people to prison for XYZ" isn't the same as saying people should just be allowed to flaunt the law in general. Saying "we shouldn't send people to prison for XYZ" isn't the same as saying it shouldn't be a crime.

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  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    zepherin wrote:
    shryke wrote:
    Thanatos wrote:
    Physical harm is neither the only nor the most damaging type of harm that exists.

    We just had an entire financial collapse that destroyed the lives of millions proving that, in fact, white-collar crime is far more dangerous.
    Except most of the transactions that took place were legal. There was white-collar crime, but the entire financial collapse was caused by millions of stupid people making poor decisions, and thousands of greedy organizations taking advantage of stupid people. So a large mass of people being stupid is more dangerous than small time physical crime? of course, but someone skimming a couple hundred thousand from a international corporation is going to cause less harm, physical and financial than one child molester who exercises their sickness once.

    Well yes, because they were smart enough to make what they were doing legal first. Yet another reason white-collar crime is much more dangerous then it looks.

    White Collar crime is just as nasty as "normal" crime, it's just harder to catch and the eventual shitty effects of it are more disconnected from the crime itself so people take it less seriously.

  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    kime wrote:
    kime wrote:
    poshniallo wrote: »
    I thought of putting a caveat like that in, but it's not important. Acts are immoral or not regardless of whether they're illegal. By using the word necessarily you're implying that there's some moral force to the law. There isn't. Morality is not what is legislated.

    Breaking the law is not immoral. Morality and the law are different classes of rules. The law could change to be anything, anything at all, and morality would not change. This is one of those logical necessities that people have a hard time accepting because it's not what society tells us.

    It's not necessarily immoral, but it also doesn't mean it should be nonpunishable.

    I'm picking this post to quote because it's really hard to figure out what you're advocating.

    edit:
    Just that there were several posts specifically against the idea that you are obligated to follow the law.

    awesome, but so what?

    You may not view a law as moral, but if you don't follow it you should expect to be punished by the system. Some people seemed to think that was not the case since they considered being obligated to follow the law an incredulous thing.

    I was responding to that.

    The point, as related to prisons, was that we are unnecessarily sending people to prison for breaking laws that shouldn't be laws anyways.

    Does that clear things up for both your questions? If not, what specifically doesn't make sense?

    @UltimaBuddy: It definitely needs to be pruned. I concur 100%.

    I am absolutely stating that you have no moral obligation to follow the law because it's a law, unless it's also moral. You are obligated to follow morality. If it's wrong to steal, you demonstrate that through philosophy, not through a restatement of the law. Sometimes working out why you shouldn't do something is complex - e.g. many 'victimless' crimes involve lying or getting other people into trouble.

    Imagine a law that you can't wear blue T-shirts. Hardly oppressive, but why would you have any obligation to follow that law? If everyone wore blue T-shirts, there wouldn't be any damage to society, right? So why would it be wrong to wear blue T-shirts?

    You can contrast this with the law that says you have to drive on the left/right of the road. If we didn't all drive on the same side, it would be dangerous chaos on the roads. People would die in traffic accidents. People would be hurt by that. So it's immoral to just drive on whateverthefuck side of the road you feel like. And, coincidentally, illegal.

    But the reason you shouldn't do it is morality, not legislation.

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  • kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    @poshniallo: But morality is ambiguous. That's the whole point of laws (ideally) is to codify what we, as a people, believe in our moral systems at any given time.

    You can't just say "do what's moral, don't do what's immoral, don't worry about laws" because, invariably, you'll get screwed over by someone who doesn't have the same moral code as you.

    Now no, laws currently don't do that perfectly, but that's the goal.

    So I will absolutely state that you should not only follow your moral compass. Because you aren't the only person in the world, so sorry, but get used to it.

    This is getting to be a bit off-topic of a tangent. If you'd like to discuss laws and morality, it should probably be done in a separate thread.

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  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    kime wrote:
    You can't just say "do what's moral, don't do what's immoral, don't worry about laws" because, invariably, you'll get screwed over by someone who doesn't have the same moral code as you.

    Nobody is saying "fuck the law!" We're simply saying that you're not immediately under the moral obligation to follow any and all laws that are made. Even if we still agree that breaking the law should be met with punishment there is no moral obligation.

  • LucidLucid Registered User regular
    I don't even agree that breaking unjust laws should be punishable. If in the unlikely scenario someone was charged under a sodomy law, I would not support them being punished.

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  • The Big LevinskyThe Big Levinsky Registered User regular
    Julius wrote:
    kime wrote:
    You can't just say "do what's moral, don't do what's immoral, don't worry about laws" because, invariably, you'll get screwed over by someone who doesn't have the same moral code as you.

    Nobody is saying "fuck the law!" We're simply saying that you're not immediately under the moral obligation to follow any and all laws that are made. Even if we still agree that breaking the law should be met with punishment there is no moral obligation.

    I would agree that laws and morality have nothing to do with each other. Obeying the law is the price we pay to participate in society - our end of the Social Contract. It has nothing to do with morality. That's one of the reasons I find it reprehensible that people generalize all criminals as immoral scumbags who deserve to be utterly ruined - and horrifying that they do it with willful ignorance as to the plight of their fellow countrymen. They don't know, they don't wanna know.

    If you call people immoral scumbags, treat them like scumbags, then don't be surprised when they come out of the system as actual scumbags. We'd probably have a lower overall crime rate if we rolled into bad neighborhoods with economic development instead of more cops and tougher laws.

  • MistaCreepyMistaCreepy Registered User
    I've been lurking this thread for a couple days now and I just wanted to touch on something I read earlier in the thread in regards to drug dealers.

    Im a little farther to the right than most people here but I can fully admit that the Drug war is fucking nonsense. That being said, the drug dealers are not the ones who deserve your sympathy. Addicts do. I've seen addiction personally VERY close hand and it is a disease that needs treatment... not jail time. I think we can all agree on that.

    But what about the drug dealers... these are people who peddle the disease of addiction for personal gain. I've known many former and current drug dealers in my day and for the most part they are predators. They seek weak people and get them hooked for a steady income. Yes... they are scumbags.

    Im not talking about the guy who slangs weed to get through college or put a little food on the table (shit my father did that back in the day when money was tight) im talking about your crack, heroin and meth dealers.

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  • LolkenLolken Registered User, __BANNED USERS, Dumbasses
    The Ender wrote:
    Our legal system is fucked up enough without drawing equivalency to past examples of atrocities.

    I'm not drawing equivalency

    Yes, you are. You admittedly were comparing 'drug dealers' (it's obvious you're really talking about small-time pot dealers here) to Jews in Nazi germany and rape victims.

    You have a really good argument (which I happen to agree with). Don't cheapen it by hyperbole using, of all things, Nazi Germany.

    By the by, entering into a tangent about abortion, it's interesting to note that Roe vs. Wade pointed out that the prohibition of abortion didn't really have a long history in the USA.

    "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" - Lord Acton.

    "Money tends to corrupt, and lots of money corrupts lotsely" - Me.
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