"History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind." ~ Edward Gibbon
Slaves of the Law
Column by Paul Bonneau.
Exclusive to STR
It’s been noted many times, that to obtain liberty, the first and most important thing that must be freed is one’s own mind. I don’t know who first recognized and stated it. Of course the reverse is true as well; the most important thing for the ruling class to do is to enslave people's minds. And the way that is done is to make those people imagine they have no choices--that “the law is the law.” Self-enforcement of laws is infinitely more important to the state than physical force; without it, the state would immediately collapse.
What may be less obvious, though, is how the enforcement of mala prohibita turns those slaves into victimizers, into evil people.
Consider the usual malum prohibitum in which there is no actual victim (it seems to be a necessary feature of such an action--if there were a victim, it would be mala in se). For example, a man carries a gun “illegally.” Now imagine that someone else sees this infraction and calls the police. The police come, and haul the man away, to be subjected to the tender mercies of the criminal “Justice System.” There was no victim before; but isn’t there one now--the hapless victim of that system? He is certainly harmed by it. So, the person who called the cops created a victim, where there was none before! That makes him a victimizer, and evil. He, and the cops who make the arrest, and the people who jailed him, and the judge who ran the trial and sentenced him, and the slaves on the jury who found him “guilty,” are all evil. They all victimized this individual, who harmed no one. Many of them actually make their living by doing so, to multiple victims.
Vin Suprynowicz has commented that voir dire, the process of jury selection, is “a French term for jury stacking.” This is where the perpetrators in the system search through the jury pool to find the most slave-like individuals, those most willing to aid and abet the continuing victimization of the defendant. Free people are not wanted in juries!
Sometimes, members of the jury show distress after the trial, that such harsh punishments are meted out to the victim they themselves convicted. Perhaps it is tinged with guilt at their participation in the victimization process. It is natural to feel remorse after having harmed someone.
The funny thing about mala prohibita, if you read about them, is that the term usually includes the notion that being convicted of violating such laws is supposed to yield only minor punishments--naturally, since there is no victim. Not that I agree with the premise, but following such logic as is there, certainly suggests a “slap on the wrist” is appropriate. Yet the current reality is that they can lead to ruined lives and decades of incarceration. Both drug and gun “crimes” carry particularly harsh penalties. One has truly to be a slave, to not see the problem here, much less to support such draconian strictures.
In fact, the very presence of a harsh penalty would seem to move a measure out of the category of malum prohibitum and into that of pure tyranny. Isn’t a felony malum prohibitum an oxymoron?
It is commonplace to see the slave mentality in action on Internet forums. In the gun forum I frequent, there is even a sub-board dealing with the intricacies of the law, where members debate endlessly over the fine points and jump through hoops in an often futile attempt to stay on the “right side” of laws for which there is never any victim--except for themselves if they get caught violating one. These same individuals will endlessly exhort everyone to get to the voting booth so that even more such laws are not imposed on them--never guessing, apparently, that they have a choice whether to obey them. Their frantic admonitions only reveal the extent of their slave mind-set, and suggest they will be the first to turn their guns in when the confiscation order finally comes through. The law is the law, after all. It never seems to occur to them that the best laws are the ones that are so outrageous that everybody flouts them. These laws strike at the imagined “legitimacy” of the rulers most effectively. These laws are most effective in freeing the minds of the formerly-enslaved.
Of course it can be argued that the people dashing madly about in a futile attempt to stay on the right side of the law are simply avoiding the bad consequences of violating them, and that they are not really slaves after all. However, the risk of getting caught may be less than it appears, the consequences not very likely. After all, don’t we inadvertently already commit three felonies a day? Yet most of us remain outside of jail. The risk of getting into an automobile accident is substantial, yet we all jump in our cars without a qualm to go to work. And there is a 100% chance we will die some day. When the risk of getting caught violating law is exaggerated in one’s mind, that is self-enforcement. That is the slave mentality. Anyway, the slave probably does not make such calculations; instead, breaking the law never enters his mind at all.
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Douglass">Frederick Douglass</a> apparently, at an early age of 12 or so, but certainly by age 16 when he fought and conquered his slave master, had dispensed with his slave mind-set. But he remained nominally a slave until age 20, when he was successful in that escape attempt, and legally until age 28 when he bought his freedom from his former master. But, was he a slave until age 16, or 28--when the law said he was?
The law is an institution of slavery. Laws turn men into slaves.