American Elephants

The Left Demands No Restraints: What the Right Does is a Crime. by The Elephant's Child
January 29, 2013, 7:43 pm
Filed under: Politics

In Alabama, if you get rid of scrap tires in an “unauthorized” manner, it is considered a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

In Mississippi, a person can spend six months in jail for “wounding, drowning, shooting, capturing, taking or otherwise killing any deer from a boat.”

In Louisiana alone, there are more than 280 offenses relating to hunting, fishing and wildlife that could get a person locked up for a long time. If a shrimper picks up another person’s broken crab tap and throws it away on land, the sentence could be two months in prison.

In Texas, there re 11 felonies relating to harvesting oysters that can land a person in prison for a decade. In the Carolinas, government officials  have cracked down on both commercial and sport fishermen, and in some cases has cut off their ability to make a living.

Captain Terrell Gould is head of a family-run business in North Carolina that takes customers on deep-sea fishing trips. The government tells him when, where and what he can catch. “There isn’t a day I go out where a rule, law or regulation is not broken” Captain Gould said.

According to a new report by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, thousands of people are being prosecuted for environmental crime every day that they had no idea were even on the books. They have been threatened, fined and thrown in jail. The trend is especially prominent along the Gulf Coast.

In a large and growing bureaucracy, the job of bureaucrats is to regulate, to issue rules. A vigorous number of rules can seem to be confirmation of the satisfactory nature of an agency. They measure up. They are doing their job.

Vernon County, Wisconsin is among a growing number of jurisdictions that are implementing so-called cyber-bullying laws. Bullying is one of the most recent issues on the trends to be stamped out list. The ordinance makes it a crime to “send information to another person by electronic means with the intent to annoy, offend, demean, ridicule, degrade, belittle, disparage, or humiliate any person.” There is an exception of the information serves a “legitimate purpose.” So what are you posting on your Facebook page?

This one clearly violates the First Amendment. Offensive speech is protected as long as it is not incitement to immediate unlawful conduct, obscene, child pornography, a threat, or fighting words.

Liberals have long been advocates of “Relativism,” the idea that nothing really matters, anything goes, an absence of rigid opinions and moral values.—everyone should be tolerant and open. Except on the other hand — nobody should be allowed to annoy, or offend.

There is a natural human tendency to want to make other people who are doing something you don’t like — stop doing it.  Think of the universal childish whine “Mom, make him stop doing that.” But eventually you grow up and begin to realize that there are things you do that annoy other people. I was once one of the earliest adopters of the mechanical pencil where you advance the lead by clicking on the eraser end of the pencil. Which got me screamed at in the middle of a major meeting. “Stop clicking that pencil!”  Well!

The late Irving Kristol once said:

In every society, the overwhelming majority of people live lives of considerable frustration and if society is to endure, it needs to rely on a goodly measure of stoical resignation.

Sensible advice, yet your committed leftist wants it both ways. They want no restraints on their own morals and behavior; but they want to regulate the morals and behavior of everyone else.

Like so many brilliant liberal ideas, it doesn’t work. We make laws against crimes against society, and try to make the punishment fit the crime. The recent tendency to  criminalize things that you find annoying simply breeds disrespect for law, antagonism towards government, and innocent people fall victims of laws that they didn’t know existed.

How about this one: A homeless  man in Florida was  arrested for charging his cell phone at a public charging station. The charge —”theft of city utilities.” cell-phone chargers cost about seven cents a month. On the other hand there are free public charging stations for electric cars all around the area. Great Neck, New York has criminalized hanging clothes out to dry in a front yard, an offense punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and 15 days in jail. Or look at the case of the  Gibson Guitar Company.

Congress has been creating, on average, about 55 new crimes a year, bringing the number of federal crimes on the books to more than 5,000. with more than 300,000 “regulatory crimes.”  And regulatory crimes are increasingly being enforced with criminal penalties. And that’s before you get to state and municipal codes.

Harvey Silverglate, author of Three Felonies a Day; How the Feds Target the Innocent, estimates that the average American now unknowingly commits three felonies a day thanks to the overabundance of vague laws and regulations.

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