Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Common law or Utopian justice

The state of Arizona has passed a law recently that angers Leftists, if we may include some of our top federal government leaders under such rubric. The law concerns illegal dwellers in our nation, "illegal immigrants." On the face of it, illegal is illegal. Ours is, or was, a nation of positive, i.e. man-made laws, Ratinalist laws based on legal equality for every citizen and legal resident, which makes our nation far different from those nations that have rule by fiat, by whim, by privileged and well-born aristocrats or worse, by theocrats who get their visions of law from Allah. Wow, things have changed. We seem determined to find our laws at fault any time they veer from "justice." Law, in my understanding of it, is law, not justice at all. If we want justice, then I think most of us would be hanged by the age of ten, assuming you and most others are like I was as a kid. No justice, thank you. I leave that to religious thinkers and a possible after-life. For now, let us have Rational, imperfect, alterable and changing laws that reflect the daily changes in our situations. But let's not go crazy and toss all the laws and make them up as we go along just because. Laws usually, but not always, work, and we know that because they have worked in the past for centuries and millennia. Let's tinker when we must, but our Revolution is over. We live a civil life in common. We have our laws. Even if the federal government doesn't like us having them. Or so is the case of Arizona.

The federal government may go to court to challenge Arizona's new law that makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally, Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday.

President Barack Obama also criticized the law, saying it could lead to harassment of Hispanics.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also voiced reservations about the new state law, saying it could siphon federal money and staff from hunting down dangerous immigrants.

The new law requires all immigrants and visitors to carry U.S.-issued documents or risk arrest. Police can question anyone about their immigration status if they have reason to suspect they are in the country illegally, and makes it a state crime if they are.


The farther away from my house a law-maker is the less I trust him to make good laws. If he demands justice, then I really start to sweat. If a law makes illegality a crime, then I have to wonder what the crime is, not who the person is. But if we make an action illegal, then it's already a crime, and justice has nothing to do with it. If the law is wrong, we change it. That's what our courts are for. It's why we vote. If we vote and are over-ruled by Philosopher Kings who demand justice, then I won't be returning home for a long time yet.

I love a lot of music from the 60s, but the lyrics to much of the music really suck, and the laws these hippies make are worse than the lyrics. I wish they'd go away and leave the rest of us in peace, love, and brotherhood, man. Dig it.


truepeers said...

Rational law? How do we know what is rational without reference to good and evil, to justice? Do you really think the Arizona legislature could write this law without thinking about the purpose of law, i.e. justice? Just because there are a lot of people with a weak idea of justice and a lot of Philosopher Kings who think they alone are the experts on the subject, doesn't mean we can do away with the concept in the name of reason.

Where does reason come from if not through an evolving understanding of good and evil? And it's not a chicken vs. egg undecidable thing. Reason in any systematic sense is a late development in human history, while good and evil is right there at the beginning. And now that reason is developed and virile, it can't just do away with all that came before - e.g. religious ideas about justice - without becoming a political religion itself.

Dag said...

Justice is an enthusiasm for extremists, I think. It's too abstract of people to base a legal system on. Lex Talionis is justice. Me winning the lottery and getting all the girls is justice. But it makes for bad law and a worse society.

truepeers said...

Justice isn't abstract, unless you make it so. It's our knowledge of concrete situations: you win the lottery and get all the girls, i see it and just know that's not right. Good and evil, justice, are directly experienced as events that either grow or erode our shared trust and freedom.

Dag said...

Our rational and Positive law can't rightly arbitrarily violate Natural Law. Revealed law certainly can, and should do so in pursuit of justice. Where is the justice in dhimmis having equal rights with Muslims? It's in Natural but not Shari'a law. Better, I think, to have a Hobbesian dictatorship of order than a Hobbesian free-for-all of justice. Better to have a legal code by Hummerabi that we can fix than a legal code from Moses we can't.

truepeers said...

Yes, but not all religions are the same. Moses did not provide the Jews a "complete way of life", which is why the history of Israel has always pitted prophet against king in a long, evolving narrative. Perhaps there is something similar in Islam, some inevitable separation of mosque and state, yet in Islam the (followers of) the prophets often tend to want to become kings. Judaism and CHristianity provide a basis for Common law, an evolutionary process forged through a dialectic of reason and justice of law and experience. Revelation is not antithetical to reason; it is the latter's starting point.