Home > Politics, The USA > Police Part 2: Punishing ‘Maybe’

Police Part 2: Punishing ‘Maybe’


In Police Part 1: Goal Change I briefly touched on how there has been a push to promote “moral and outrage” laws. These are laws that are designed to force people to be more moral, or to address some outrage that the general populace had at some point. For example: smoking cigarettes is bad for you. Since people still insist on smoking them, many cities around the country have made it illegal to smoke indoors, because smokers are so immoral that they have to be forced by law to not smoke inside. An example of an outrage law would be speeding or red-light running. There is no victim, but there could have been, and because there have been some in the past and the outrage of the situation was such that new laws against the activity were passed.

The problem with laws like this is that they outlaw situations that CAN lead to bad outcomes, rather than just the outcomes; and they generally are the kinds of things that most of the population does regularly (like speeding – who doesn’t go at least 5mph over the speed limit on the freeway?). So, if you are speeding – even though there is no victim or property damage – you must be cited for creating conditions where that can occur. The department of transportation estimates you have a 1/200 chance of dying every time you drive – that’s 5%. If the most dangerous situation is in play – DUI – your chances increase by 30%… which is actually just 6.5% (30% of 5% is 1.5%). Sounds really scary though, huh!? Their budget depends on you being scared.

Back to the issue – these create a situation where the Police aren’t even solving a crime anymore. They simply have to proudly proclaim a crime was likely to occur and proceed to punish as if it had happened. This is head and shoulders better than chasing after a heavily armed drug runner or a murderer. They can nail honest law-abiding people that won’t cause them problems for crimes they might have committed.

Let me list some others they should be doing along the same vein:

  • Arrest men who are served divorce papers because they are likely to do some violence on their wives (statistics show it happens a lot).
  • Fine anyone who buys firewood because they are likely to burn it on “no burn” days (Arizona thing).
  • Arbitrarily issue speeding tickets to people that drive sports cars, because they are certain to go over the speed limit at some point.

Another added benefit to laws like this is that it widens the scope of police to be the arbiters of moral behavior. Priests used to give penance out to sinners, now the Police give out penance in the form of fines and jail time in return for a salary, a pension, free/extremely cheap healthcare and the option to “double dip” the system. In the next section, I will talk about compensation and how that plays into this. Get ready!

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Categories: Politics, The USA
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  1. November 3, 2010 at 9:55 am

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