When the law does more harm than good, or an exercise in independent thought

044 March 12, 2016 -- (asphalt)

Society, or rather agents of society who get paid in order to ensure the continued existence of abstract entities such as "the society", "the state" and so on and so forth, have taught us individuals that laws have been put in place by our forefathers for morals, ethics, or in other words, for normative reasons. This, of all things, ensures that within the pale of "society", "state" (and so on and so forth) activities ocur deterministically, and thus the continued existence of said entities.

In modern democratic society, a heavy counterbalance to those otherwise contemptible pieces of propaganda1 is the mechanism of vote. At least theoretically, people meet, discuss, debate, and decide based on hard numbers whether a given law is worth applying or not. Also theoretically, such decisions are taken based primarily on the common sense and the common good.

However, given that both common-sense and common-good are vaguely defined terms2, in practice laws get validated based on group interests. When democracy inevitably fails, group interests become the norm and are introduced systematically either directly through "lobbying", or using plain old doublespeak à la "pro-life/pro-choice", "pro/anti global climate change", "animal rights", etc. Thus in the rather harsh times our dear old Western civilization is going through, it is safe to assume that laws are not only not based on common-sense and common-good, but that they may encompass completely opposite principles.

Thus, for our exercise in independent thought, let us take two disparate and completely non-interesting examples.

First example: Parlamentul a stabilit la cati caini au dreptul ciobanii. Legea "3, 2, 1 dulai", criticata de ministrul Agriculturii3:

O lege adoptata de parlamentari schimba regulile de la stana. In functie de regiune, ciobanii au voie sa tina la turma unul, doi sau trei caini. Daca au mai multi, amenzile ajung pana la 1500 de lei.

Crescatorii de animale sunt revoltati pentru ca, spun ei, nu au cum sa-si apere oile de lupi.

[...]

Ioan Moga, crescator de oi: "Cine a mai pomenit asa ceva. Eu de 50 de ani cresc oi si mereu am avut cate 6, 7 chiar 8 caini la turma. Sa raman cu 2? Ce fac? Au veni lupii chiar aici si mi-au atacat oile. O sa vina sa ne dea si amenzi din alea mari."

Or, in plain English. [Romanian] Parliament regulates the number of dogs to which shepherds are entitled. The law "3, 2, 1 hounds", criticized by the minister of Agriculture:

A law passed by congressmen changes sheepfold rules. Depending on the region, shepherds may keep one, two or three dogs to guard their flock. Those who keep more will receive fines up to 1500 lei.

Animal breeders are revolted because they claim that they are now unable to defend their sheep from wolves.

[...]

Ioan Moga, dog breeder: "This is unheard of. For 50 years I've been raising sheep and I always had 6, 7 or even 8 dogs near the herd. To be left with 2? What am I going to do? Wolves came right here and they attacked my sheep. They're going to come and give us those big fines."

In short, the example above is a case of not one, but two mistakes that no lawmaker should ever commit4.

The first mistake is the choice of "three, two, one, depending on the region". This number looks, and most probably is completely arbitrary. Why three dogs and not four? Why not two big ones and a smaller one? Why not twenty chihuahuas, for that matter? Educated persons know that universal constants are mere exceptions, and even those are baffling to the extreme.

The second mistake is that the law fails to address the root causes of the whole scandal, i.e. that dogs are aggressive, that they kill wild animals and attack tourists. Up next, women won't be allowed to have more than two babies in a period of ten years, due to the pollution caused by baby feces; citizens will not be allowed to breathe more than three liters of air per day, to lower the quantity of CO2 emitted by humans. There's more but I'm gonna stop here, I'm probably giving these nutters ideas.

Second example: La gare de Renens évacuée à cause d'un colis suspect:

La gare de Renens (VD) a été évacuée jeudi à 19 heures après la découverte d'une valise abandonnée. A Genève, un sac de sport a été neutralisé vers 20 heures à Rive.

[...]

A Renens, une autre intervention a eu lieu. Celle du Groupe de spécialistes en dépiégeage (GSD). Elle a pris fin à 21 heures. Aucun objet dangereux n'a finalement été découvert dans la valise. Celle-ci ne contenait que des effets personnels, selon un communiqué de la police.

Or, in short5, people in the small municipality of Renens, Vaud, Switzerland, get all fussy over a luggage left in the train station6, by someone who has most probably forgotten it there, the poor fool.

Now, the way things go in civilized countries such as Switzerland, someone needs to pay for all this fuss7. Given the incident, both executive and judiciary organs will have to establish how the incident took place, why it took place, and why did citizen Y leave his luggage in the train station in the first place?

On the other hand, if the average educated person were to look at the whole thing from a sane, pre-9/11 perspective, they would be completely confused, firstly by the authorities' reaction, and secondly by everyone else's complete fear and submission to this whole situation. What do you mean, we have to look at the context? Have the laws changed so awfully radically because of Charlie Hebdo? Are today's more "civilized people" more quick to "pray for Paris" than to take a moment to think about the whole situation8?

So, now that a few idiots finally learned how to make bombs out of household items, people can lose their jobs for spitting, and they can get fined over leaving a bag in the train station. Up next, policemen will arrest another poor fool, unable to determine exactly why. I wonder, what would have Kafka thought about this?

It seems that laws don't work anymore. Well. At least marketing still does... or does it?


  1. Propaganda, education, not much of a difference there. They're both for the feeble-minded, both serving the purpose of training monkeys, with the notable distinction that the former strives to keep adults in their sorry state, while the latter enforces norms in order to open up horizons towards humanity. Regardless, they're both useful tools for whomever wields them.

  2. The problem with applying "common good" on the other is that you don't do what the other wants, but what is good for them. So despite what the strangely cognitively dissonant "generation X" would have you believe (they're seriously insane anyway, really!), this may or may not include beating the hell out of the other. In fact, one of the few things in life that can never ever, ever, ever be avoided is pain of all kinds.

    The problem with "common sense" is that it's subject to cultural relativism -- see the cognitive dissonance of the previously mentioned "generation X". Remember that back in the day some cultures held in high regards the belief that eating people is ok. Sure, you might think that this can never ever happen in your culture, because your culture is superior. Well, no, it's not; in fact "pop culture" is in our times the standard example of an inferior culture. First and foremost in the light of the fact that it will not stand the test of time.

  3. The original story can be found on the ProTV news site (warning, it's very JavaScript and Flash-heavy).

  4. And for which those Romanian guys should be beaten with a short, sharp stick, just like in the old times. Yes, it's uncivilized. Yes, the guys deserve it. They essentially ate their taxpayers' money with this shit, and now-democratic Romanians stand this the way they've stood it during communism, Ottoman rule, and probably during the Dacian times too, since they're so very proud of it. The way things look, they're going to accept this state of affairs for the foreseeable future, and the Western world will end up finding a model in that, or something.

  5. For plain English translations, hire someone. Or, y'know, get a book, learn some French, it's not a dead language yet.

  6. It's amusing how the original article fails to give any useful information about the somewhat similar event in Geneva, probably because they weren't given any hints by the authorities, and probably because that one was a serious incident. In this case, presspeople just apply the classic trick of misdirection, despite the fact that the event in Geneva was most likely more serious and the public is worried and all that. Journalism, Iknowrite?

  7. They had to evacuate a whole train station, mobilize bomb specialists, all that mumbo-jumbo. That stuff costs, and yes, someone oughta be held responsible and pay for it. I mean, it's not that "it just happened", right?

  8. Masses' traditional lack of rationality is exactly why people "voted for" Lenin, Hitler and Le Pen a while after choosing those other guys. You know the ones that history scarcely remembers.