Given the fact that the USA has more of its citizens in its prison system than any other nation does in their own; that our homicide rate is a modern day embarrassment; that our legal institutions themselves are rife with corruption and downright criminality, it is easy to assume that America is a lawless land, that we are a lawless people. Little could be further from the truth.
In fact the USA likely has more laws than any place else on Earth, over 160,000 pages of them by some counts. More laws than any person or group of people could ever memorize over the course of numerous lifetimes. Reasonably, more than one could even read over the course of a life time – by page 10 thousand, most would commit capital homicide or at least criminal suicide owing to the nature of the all but unintelligible content within.
The law books which define the rule of law in this nation exist as an unfathomable yet ever expanding archive of justifications to deny people freedom in the self-proclaimed land of the free. This means that we are governed by people who don’t know the laws which preceded them, in their job of applying the law, but indeed do not even know the content of the laws they introduce.
The Patriot Act is a workable example: at nearly 350 pages, it was reputedly crafted in about a month after the entirely unanticipated attacks of 9/11. It makes many changes of existing laws, diminishes Constitutional protections and expands the national security state, yet at least two of the elected representatives that signed it into law admitted on camera that they hadn’t even read it. 350 pages of laws signed by lawmakers who didn’t even bother to read them.
Laws that affect every man, woman and child in the nation (not employed by the government apparently) proffered by those ignorant of them. Senator John Conyers stated (to Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11) that none of the congressmen read the laws they signed as it would slow down the process. This suggests that the process is more important than the ethos driving it. At least to those paid to process it. This is worth considering.
Far from being a lawless people we are instead totally lawsome! To the extreme! In fact, the probability exists that we may have entered a state of total criminality (as postulated by Frank Zappa in 1980) wherein we are all guilty of something or other (160 thousand pages and counting) and can thus be remanded to custody with relative impunity with the assurance that some violation exists in each of our lives to warrant it. According to the state, we can be detained indefinitely until they can come up with something to accuse us of. In that timeframe all manner of criminality can be identified and acted upon.
The ubiquity of the computatator I suspect has hastened this as virtually everyone carries one with them or has one someplace with their name on it or in it. To use the device is to receive stuff you didn’t solicit – this for example. While opinions such as this, as odious as they might seem, offer little but information or disquiet, other things slip into the computer’s little brains unbeknownst to the users, there lying dormant until needed for whatever insidious ends. Cookies. Companies that sell anti-virus software for your computer make viruses, you know, for practice. That way, should a virus they make for practice somehow escape into the World Wide Web, they’ll have the antidote waiting – for a price. These are the people who protect our computers. Others might not be so benevolent.
And just as law enforcement officials will carry a ‘throw away’ weapon to pin on those they violate unlawfully, the capacity to insert something into someone’s computer is no more difficult than wiping it clean, or copying its data into portable capture and storage devices which exist among the arsenal of police tools to protect us from, well, whatever. Access. People in official custody surrender their little iPuters to the officials in charge. Access granted.
Law is a punitive form of rule. The king makes a decree, “Thou shalt not eat of the king’s wood…” and as he is the king, all wood is his; the decree becomes the blanket over his wood. It represents his intention to exact retribution on all who violate it, as a warning to all who fall under its jurisdiction. The fact of the decree will not stop the eating of the wood to those predisposed to such things, so it acts as a tax for those who are caught violating its purity of essence. Eat the wood, pay the fee. Kind of an ex post facto tribute, pay the fine with your gold or your head.
Which was fine for the king’s wood and all, but now the state, through selective and often capricious application of law, demands tributes for every crime, at least the ones they choose to pursue. Now, if you get into a fight with your neighbor, the state will step in, charge you with unlawful disturbance, resisting arrest (who wouldn’t willingly be arrested?), assault, battery and whatever other charges they can affix to you, lock you up and fine you (in lieu of jail time) for your personal problems with your neighbor. And when you finally pay and get out and all, your problems with your neighbor remain or will have escalated. The king gets his cut. Rancor tax.
The problem then becomes that if the state (king) strengthens its position through the enmity of its citizens (economically, as arbiter, or ultimately warden), is the state motivated to promote generosity and tolerance to its positional detriment? Where the people get along, the power of the state is diminished because the people are unified through accord, compelling the state into the role of an external authority. Where people are at odds, the state increases power through regulatory controls, expanded enforcement and financial levy through fines.
Hence there is an economic motivation for the state to foster criminality among the citizens – ultimately, their jobs depend upon it. Which is exactly why 160 thousand pages of laws exist: lawmakers with nothing to justify their lofty positions need something to show for it.
Part of the problem (for the consumer) is that lawmakers are excellent at fashioning common language into incomprehensible ordinance but not so good at cleaning up their past messes. So all those outdated laws from the 18th and 19th century are still nestled right in there with all the awful and unnecessary laws from the 20th and now 21st centuries. Like cancer cells upon the psyche of a nation, accumulating around us till even reading the law is against the law and all challenges are met with summary execution (instead of only some, like now).
“Liberty is the right of doing whatever the laws permit.” Baron de Montesquieu
The reason so many Americans are in the USA prison system is that it is profitable. Just as with war, if these horrible things were administered with no possibility of profit, their necessity would somehow strangely diminish. As Major General Smedly Butler stated with no equivocation in War is a Racket, to end war is to end profiteering. Without profit, it is naught but suffering and loss. And where is the benefit in that? This describes our prison system, but for the fact of profit. Huge profit, suffering and loss.
That can be the only acceptable conclusion; otherwise it is to admit to the suggestions alluded to in Injustice Our Triumph that we are a nation of degenerate criminals. That being the case, we have absolutely no right to enforce our perceptions of criminal justice anywhere in the world, nor warrant the exception our notions of moral superiority demand. As the most criminal place on Earth, we are but the liquored-up thug holding the gun to the temple of the world and sneering, “Go ahead, try something, I’ll blow every one a yer brains out…”.
This is not to suggest that we are not criminals and degenerates – I’ve been one my entire life and it has suited me fine. But I’ve been one that has had the sense to stay out of the legal system, regardless how often they invited (invite) me in. As with so many, my criminal degeneracy is of a statutory nature (or moral revulsion), not of any assault or violation of the sanctity of my fellow humans. In a lawless culture, outlaws of my nature would be of little interest, but because we live in a lawsome culture, even our personal, sexual or psychological tastes come under scrutiny. In many cases, it has become against the law for us to be ourselves.
Lawmakers and lawyers need something to do; they are like any animal craving activity. But excess law with exceptions and selective enforcement is worse than no law at all and as the Baron was also wont to note, useless laws weaken necessary laws. A huge number of laws affecting us today while generally applied were laws to give law enforcement additional tools to harass and torture black and brownish colored people. The initial focus of the prohibition of cannabis was blacks and Mexicans, prompting its name change to marijuana, more exotic and Hispanic sounding.
A big part of the reason for our disproportionate prison population is that we have an indigenous alien population. It seems our ancestors had this notion that they could use other humans for labor like they used animals for labor – against their will, or at least their wishes. Called it slavery. So they brought tens of thousands of these people – savages – to this continent from a continent away and worked them hard. Like animals.
Then some geniuses decided that even though slavery is justified and even appealing in the Bible, it is also repellent and kinda mean, even though Jesus didn’t personally repudiate it. So they spent a lotta time and money and spilled all kinds of blood and guts and stuff so these in-country aliens could be set adrift, free of the bonds which held them and fed them and sheltered them. Free of any hope at equality or dignity or justice under the law. Free at last.
So all of these millions of people that most of the people not their pigment felt they were better than still enjoy the benefits of being perceived as people who somehow don’t belong here. To reduce the potential of that very thing happening to them, the white colonists just killed off those who would presume to challenge their right to pillage here – or imprisoned them on ‘reservations’. Sounds kind of hoity toity, “Can’t get a seat at the club without reservations, Mater. To keep out, the wrong kind of people. You know…”
And who can blame them? Nobody wants to eat with the wrong kind of people. So even though blacks make up 13% of the USA population, they make up 40% of the prison population, where they can presumably eat with their own kind of people. The laws on prohibition enforced today were racist laws directed at the blacks and Latinistas, but very convenient for the violation of anyone’s personal sanctity should those in authority decide such a course is warranted.
Reason suggests that just as murderers shouldn’t be able to profit off the sales of their How I Did It bestseller, the people who imprison them shouldn’t profit from their degradation. A half vast prison population is nothing to be proud of especially, one would think, to those who claim pride in affixing their loyalty to a national identity. It seems that a nation to take pride in would work to reduce their prison population, work to make it a better place to live for all its citizens, regardless how their ancestors came to be here.
A great nation, one would imagine, is one that works to emphasize its citizens’ commonalities, not one that capitalizes upon their divisions. For in that capital lives the despair of our world, as our single commonality becomes that we are all criminals.