Friday, October 01, 2010

We are all criminals

From the comments on the Freedom Update post:

"Saying illegal immigrants have less freedom is like saying people in jail have less freedom. Of course they do, they're criminals for cryin' out loud!"

People, we are all criminals! All of us have broken the speed limit or maybe smoked a reefer, or hired a worker that we didn't pay taxes for, or bought something on the internet without forwarding a sales tax payment to our state of residence, or brought Cuban cigars back from Europe, or didn't declare everything we bought abroad on our customs form.

Saying someone is a criminal is kind of meaningless. There is a big difference between being a criminal and actively doing harm to others.

Sorry for this rant, but I get really tired of this selective labeling and at times demonizing of groups that some people don't like. I am not accusing the commenter of demonizing, but many people do, with a label that could just as well be applied to themselves.

So maybe we should all look in the miror and say, "Hi, my name is (state your name), and I am a criminal".


Anonymous said...

Various crimes have various penalties associated with them. Usually, not always, that penalty is related to the severity of the crime. If you don't like a law, work to change it. And as the old saying goes, "if you can't do the time, don't do the crime".

Chris said...

Hi, my name is Falcon, and I am a criminal. The one (and only) law I broke involved Cuban cigars. I didn't get ex-presidential with the cigar or anything, but WTF. I always knew that it was illegal to import Cubans (cigars and people), but the fact that it's illegal for me to buy or smoke one in another friggin country?! oh the (in)humanity

boz said...

I once declared a 30 cent newspaper on a customs form because I was bringing it back into the country for a friend. It was the only item on my form (and the only thing I was bringing back into the country that I hadn't left with). The customs guy at the airport told me to never do that again.

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Tom said...

My name is Tom and I am not a criminal...

... but only because I do not cede to the legislature the right to define the term. I know what previous posters do not, which is how complex, arbitrary, capricious, and contradictory our laws are. I happen to be like them in that I have not attracted the ire of the wrong people, the LEO or prosecutors who would do the investigation and/or lay the traps that would expose where my ordinary life conflicts with statute. But fear not: when we do come to "their" attention, we won't be bored in prison -- here's the beginnings of a reading list:

Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything

Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent

Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court

Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor

Anonymous said...

1. There is a difference between having broken a law or laws at various times (it's practically impossible to be aware of and conform to every possible law at all times) and living in a continuous state of knowing legal transgression.

2. Not believing a particular crime causes harm to others doesn't change the fact that it's still a crime or the fact that the description "criminal" is especially accurate for someone violating the laws in a continuous, willful way.

Careful not to demonize the "demonizers." Even if you're hypothetically correct about the seriousness of this particular offense, the notion that "everyone is a criminal so it's all the same if I don't think the crimes are hurting others" is absurd.

Toestubber said...

When slavery was the law of the land, some people worked to rectify a legal injustice. It took generations of effort and a national bloodbath to do so. Small comfort for those escaping slaves who, for their "crimes," were tortured or killed. They didn't live to see those wonderful changes.

Sure, work to change the law - however, in the meanwhile, the law is an ass.