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Of Laws and Men

Recently on my friend Brad Torgersen’s Facebook page, an anti-civil-rights advocate presumed to educate us by telling us that no one wanted to reduce the gun-owning rights of the law-abiding, only the criminals. When we didn’t kowtow to his massive wisdom he challenged us to tell him what effect new “sensible laws” would have on law-abiding citizens.

Of course, the answer was “all of the effects they might have.” The original commenter didn’t seem to get that. This is emblematic of what leftists can’t grasp about laws: that laws aren’t magical and words don’t compel obedience.

Look, in my day job I write science fiction and fantasy. I can write a world in which laws can’t be disobeyed; where a law passed by our legislature has the same force as the laws of physics. (Of course, it would be a pretty boring world for stories, unless I find a way for someone to break that effect.) But I also know, as most people have to know who work in fantasy universes for a living, that this is not in point of fact the world we live in.

If — in the world we live in — laws compelled obedience in and of themselves, murder would be unheard of since almost every human society since the dawn of time has had a law against it.

And yet murder, theft, and all the other lawbreaking imaginable still happen, which proves to us it is possible for people to ignore and contravene the law.

Sometimes, in fact, you have to ignore and contravene the law to survive. The black markets in various communist countries sprang up not out of the contrariness of the citizens, but because it was vital for survival. (And this is why capitalism is not an economic system. It is simply what the sub-race of apes that call themselves homo sapiens does. We trade for the goods we need. When stupid governments possessed of fantasy ideas try to regulate that, it works about as well as regulating rain. The real commerce just goes underground and becomes a black market.)

But the left piously believes in laws and that laws have the power to change people’s behavior. It’s part of their fanatical devotion to a society organized by the numbers and from the top down.

So when things go wrong – as they will, since the world is still inhabited by humans, and humans are still fallible – they say “there ought to be a law.”

Look at where this has got us, in child care, for instance. Do children get beaten to death? We should make it illegal to even give your child a smack on the behind. Do children get kidnapped while walking to school? Well, no child shall walk alone. Children get into horrible accidents on their bikes and get mangled? Your three-year-old shall have a safety helmet to ride his tricycle in the yard. Coming soon, I’m sure: Children fall down? There ought to be a law that children have to wear helmets while walking.