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Law vs Morality

Entry 1598, on 2013-11-27 at 22:37:57 (Rating 3, Comments)

Some people are quite surprised at my attitude towards the law. Most of us are taught to respect the law and never question it, but that seems to contradict the other common attitude we are often presented with: disrespect for politicians. Think about it. Who makes the laws: politicians!

So it seems to me that there is no need to have automatic respect for laws at all. I think it's only sensible to carefully consider their merits because we as individuals do have to live in a society with other people so we do need rules. Plus there is the "small annoyance" that the police tend to take a rather dim view of people who break laws and it's often just not worth the possible issues which might result!

But there are several types of laws which I think we should be suspicious of. Here's a few examples...

There are laws which are just arbitrary. For example, New Zealand Police are about to embark on a revenue gathering campaign where they will strictly enforce driving just 4 kilometers per hour over the speed limit (the usual tolerance is 10). Why 4? It's completely ridiculous and clearly a silly attempt by some bureaucrat in Wellington to either raise some more money in fines or increase safety in a way which will never work.

How many people have accidents because they are travelling 4% too fast? I would say basically about the same number as those travelling 4% too slow (and maybe less). And how many cars have speedometers which are off by 4%? Probably most. Obviously anyone who refuses to obey such a stupid law is not a criminal, and any reasonable cop who sees someone travelling just 4% over the speed limit would just pretend it didn't happen if he had any decency at all.

And there are laws designed to give an unfair advantage to the rich and powerful. Any law which is grossly unfair in this way deserves no respect. For example, if a group wants to protest foreign companies exploring for oil in potentially dangerous areas of our oceans why should an unfair law stop them?

Finally, what about the ridiculous copyright laws we already have (not to even mention those which might result after the TPP negotiation is complete). Again these are designed to give corrupt corporations lots of money which they have done nothing to deserve. Anyone who breaks these laws is doing no harm so what's the problem?

So those are a few examples. I'm not suggesting we should all go out and start breaking those sorts of laws even if we don't agree with them, because that has consequences, but I am saying that what is legal and what is morally right are two different things.

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Comment 1 (3749) by INRI on 2013-12-05 at 23:01:43:

In matters of law and morality I find it disgusting that something that is repugnant to justice for three years can then be perfectly legal the next day and I refer to the Relationship Property Act.

I don't know how lawyers can sleep at night after applying such unfair laws. I presume this law was passed so they would have the opportunity to make people misserable prior to forming their relationships as well as during and after - and increase their chances for accruing legal fees.

I was amused to see this article from 1880 on an insurance matter where the jury refused to be directed by the judge and were determined to "return a verdict based on the justice of the case".

The world would be a better place with less law and more justice.

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Comment 2 (3750) by OJB on 2013-12-05 at 23:25:55:

Agreed. Your phrase "The world would be a better place with less law and more justice" is a very good one. In a similar way I never refer to the "justice system". I usually call it the "legal system". The two ideas (justice and law) are often not the same thing.

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Comment 3 (3751) by OJB on 2013-12-05 at 23:29:50:

I also see that in that case there was a motion for a new trial. What was the final outcome I wonder? Less justice and more law?

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