Sunday, April 24, 2011

What's Mine is Yours...

...especially the moral code.

Before I begin, I'll put in a mini-argument for prostitution, since I forgot it earlier:

One can sell their labor to a construction company. One can mow a neighbor's lawn, and request a fee. One can be hired as a bodyguard, a chef, or for any of one's personal skills. So why is it illegal to hire a prostitute?

Well, sleeping around can cause one to pick up any number of diseases. But one would imagine that people would be smart enough to avoid such things, and that clients would be smart enough to avoid them as well. The only reason I can think of (apart from lying, which I'll cover later) which could cause a prostitute to take on a diseased client is if he or she were desperate for money, which welfare covers, as far as I know. Why anyone would go to a diseased prostitute is beyond me. If the prostitute/client was lying - there's a thing called court. We use it a lot in the United States.

I do admit prostitution takes advantage of those down on their luck, especially runaways and those otherwise far from people they could go to for aid. But I think that if prostitution were to be regulated, as any other business, this could easily be avoided, as could much of the fear of disease. The only thing keeping prostitution from being legal is that it's illegal, if that makes any sense.

I can think of one other possible argument. "It's not moral!" I'll tackle that below.

Anyways, the government, as I've previously stated, really should have no jurisdiction over your body unless you're putting someone else, or their property, in danger. Perhaps yourself, in rare circumstances, but usually there's treatment aside from asylum for such things. If it is given that no reasons exist to ban prostitution, then it should not be illegal.

And just to put in a quote from the Christian bible, for later use, "A prostitute is a deep pit and a wayward wife is a narrow well. Like a bandit she lies in wait, and multiplies the unfaithful among men." (Proverbs 23:27-28) Condemning prostitution AND adultery, oho! (I use the Christian bible for my examples since it was the most prevalent religion/belief while the USA was forming its code of laws, and it still is.)

On to the main topic. Pardon my swearing.

I can say quite firmly that laws concerning suicide, adultery, polygamy, drugs, gambling, and prostitution were birthed from either religion, or the norms of society becoming more than norms. Since religion dictated many norms of society way back when (it still does to this day), one could call the pressures of religion a subset of societal norms.

But why should breaking norms be against the law, if the breaking of that norm in and of itself harms nobody? I'm perfectly in my rights to ask for someone's seat on an otherwise empty bus (though I haven't the faintest why I would) so why should I not be allowed to smoke pot? (I forgot to make a spiel on that as well, but I'm guessing you know what my arguments are for that.)

"Oh, but I am offended when you do something against my moral code and don't apologize, so it should be illegal to protect my fragile sensibilities, since my opinions and feelings are clearly the most superior!"

There is no fucking way it should be illegal to offend someone in passing. (Before anyone claims that libel, hate crimes, and that ilk, are just offending... Libel has direct impacts, and hate crimes dehumanize. And no, just because I don't think that offending you should be against the law doesn't mean I'm dehumanizing you, because I'm not specifically targeting any individual or group and if I need to go any further I will ask you to jump into a deep, empty well.)

And honestly, if you're offended by someone's actions which have not hurt anyone, you're putting your nose where it doesn't belong, and could easily spare yourself the offense by NOT CARING. And being offended "for someone" that you don't know personally is bullshit. You don't know them, so really, you're getting offended for you, not them. See beginning of paragraph for what I have to say about that.

Finally, why should anyone be bound to your moral code? Your opinions, morals, and ethics are hardly empirical. So don't think they are. (And before anyone just says it's just my moral code that it's not alright to hurt anyone or their property, I might add that the government is supposed to benefit the populace. Part of benefiting people is making sure they stay alive and/or unhurt.)

Alright, now to tie together the few religious references I've made. All these so-called vices whose illegality I've railed against are all things which will get you sent to "Hell". I personally don't believe in "Hell", but it's apparent that others do. But why should your beliefs be pressed upon me, or anyone else who does not want them? It's a simple step from making popular belief dictate law to quashing minorities, which is really not that far from the sort of inequality and -isms which society has slowly been growing out of. Nobody is in the right to force anyone else to believe something. The only permissible time which I can think of is when someone is in danger if they do not change said beliefs, and when said beliefs are a small change.

"There is a train coming at you!"

"No there isn't."

"Yes there is, taking a fucking look."

"I don't believe you!"

And before anyone says people trying to save others from "Hell" are arguably in the right, though they may have the sentiment, they are not in the right. In the example of the train, it is a very small change for a large payoff. To switch religions is a large change, and in my eyes, very small payoff. Nobody really knows if "Hell" or any world beyond exists. Until you prove there is a payoff, you should not be able to force anyone to do anything.

As a final note (I seem to have a lot of these) I am by no means decrying religion. Religion is a powerful tool, and can spawn amazing deeds and great wonders. It is a person's choice whether or not they subscribe to a religion, and it should only be their own. I am decrying those who would make it otherwise, and those who warp religion into something impure, and not something of good.

Hopefully this slightly disconnected spiel-of-a-text-wall made sense. That's all for now, more rants to come later.

I'll be focusing on studying these next two weeks, though I may post once or twice. Writing exercises and satire to come post-exams.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Why Should I Listen To You?

Alright, so I've been slacking. Heh. Anyways, I'm skipping the post on suicide as it's pretty self-explanatory. The government should try to prevent it, but not by making it harder for the deceased's family to get their body back. (The only real legal repercussion of suicide is that it is damn hard for your family to retrieve your body for a timely funeral.)

Anyways. Busybodies. Nosy folk. People who tell you how you should lead your life personally. (Also preachers who preach hellfire and brimstone, or along those lines.)

In my eyes, there are only a few people whose lives it is permissible to interfere with.
1- Family and loved ones
2- Friends
3- People who come to you seeking aid
4- People in immediate danger

In other words, people who you know personally, people who want the help, or people who clearly need the help.

And by clearly need the help, I do not mean, "You're going to hell for your sins, repent!" or "That cigarette will kill you, you know." or "Hey, you shouldn't go base jumping." Chances are, if people are doing something, they know about the dangers involved, and don't need to be reminded.

Alright, devil's advocate time. What if they don't know about the dangers, because they haven't researched, and their close friends and family haven't bothered to tell them? You wouldn't know, and they might get seriously hurt. And you would have been able to prevent it.

But for me, it's such a small percentage (I mean, who doesn't hear about the dangers of smoking or drinking, and I'm pretty damn sure you've got to sign some stuff before being able to base jump...) that it really is unlikely that you will come across even one person in over their head. And how many of those will take heed from a complete stranger?

Alright, so I find I'm actually a little divided on giving advice to strangers.

I'll post part two tomorrow. Let's see if I can't have a firmer stance on pressing your ethics or morals on other people. I probably won't.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Polygamy & Adultery

Let's start with some facts.

In the United States, polygamy is illegal. It is illegal in every single state. It's a misdemeanor in some, and a felony in others, but illegal everywhere. Adultery is chargeable with a felony in Wisconsin, and can be served with a life sentence in Michigan. One can also be court-martialed if in the military while committing such an act. Of these two, polygamy is heavily persecuted wherever it occurs, while adultery is only occasionally sentenced under the law, though both are socially unacceptable in this day and age.

Now, what does the government have to do with the relationships of people?

Oh, alright. There can be issues with having too many kids in a polygamist family for the family to support, but that's really the only thing I can think of not covered by the law. I don't think that in and of itself is enough to make this illegal. I mean, what other harms are there? (Apart from every celebrity instantly having 100 wives/husbands, and the rest of American males/females becoming wiveless/husbandless.)

As for adultery, does the government have to make people be faithful to their spouses? (Alright, you've been emotionally hurt, but if you're in a relationship to someone, it's hardly binding. You're a dick if you cheat, but since when does the government regulate douchebags?) I could think of at least a dozen other things money and time allocated to such cases could be better spent on.

Like gambling, if all the people in a polygamist family consent to such a relationship, what right does society have to intervene? (No! It's not fair that you have two spouses! It's not fair. IT'S NOT FAIR!) Likewise, if someone decides to cheat on a significant other, what right does society have to tell them it's illegal to do so? (NO! If you get into a relationship with me, you're NEVER allowed to leave!)

Once again, this is society/government getting into the lives of other people. Polygamy and adultery don't physically harm anyone directly, and establishing any indirect harms are nigh impossible. It's not as if every adulterer punches a random passerby before cheating. One time emotional harm is nothing illegal (though emotional trauma, as is sustained emotional harm, also known as bullying).

I believe that both of these are relics of Christian influence in American law. That is not to say Christian influence does not still exist, nor is it to say that it is acceptable. (Neither is the influence of any major religion, lack thereof, or most self-interested agendas.) I may go into depth about that later on, but that's not the topic at hand. If one looks at (Gasp!) the Christian bible, adultery and polygamy are both quite clearly held in contempt.

To end this spiel, one could apply these same arguments to why gay (otherwise known as GBLTPQetc., or whatever the acronym is now) marriages should be legal across the USA. "Oh, but they offend me!" Tough.

tl;dr Polygamy and adultery are not something in the government's domain. They may be regarded as immoral or unethical by most of society, but they have no direct victims, and should thus not be the concern of government.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Consent & Gambling

There are a lot of things which are illegal. In Washington state, it's illegal to videotape someone without their consent. Across the world, it's illegal to have sex with someone without their consent. (Here's a hint: that's called rape.) It is illegal to take an item from someone without their consent (theft), and it is illegal to enter someone's property without their consent (trespassing). Of course, these actions all become legal if the person in question (in their right mind, of course) says you can, whether verbally, via writing, or otherwise.

But wait! What about stores? I know they have security cameras that tape me whenever I go in! Aren't those illegal?

This is where implied consent comes in. Privately owned businesses essentially host you while you're in their store. They have rules, and can expel you for not following them, like any household. (Unlike most households, stores have security guards to carry you away, however.) Some rules might be, "No stealing", or "No killing", and you have to agree with these before you enter. It's doubtful you've ever been approached by an associate of the store and asked to agree to these things, and it would be a pain to make everyone verbally agree to it before entering. The consent to follow those rules is implied, and it's implied that you give consent to cameras to film you while you're inside the store, or on the premises.

Now, life has risks. If I step outside, I could be struck by lightning, drowned by a rogue tidal wave, or eaten by a starving dinosaur. Again, you don't have to sign any sort of liability form before you exit your house; the consent to risking these dangers are all implied. Of course, should someone take action and harm you, that's against the law. Following that train of thought, it's implied one does not consent to being stabbed, or robbed.

On to gambling. When I talk about gambling, I'm not talking about horse races, or casinos, or those scratch card games. I'm talking about "social gambling", as it's called under the law. "Social gambling" is essentially getting together with friends (usually in the privacy of one's home), pulling out a deck of cards, or whathaveyou, and putting some cash at stake. That sort of gambling is illegal in 22 states, fined in another, and regulated to $10 stake/person in another. (Though how they regulate that is beyond me, as well as how states uphold such laws in the first place.)

Why is this illegal? When you decide to play some poker with friends, you willingly give up the stake, ante, or bet. Nobody is pointing a gun to your head (one should hope); you're there of your own volition, and if you lose money, it was your choice of your own will to give it up. The government has no laws against throwing money off a cliff (Laws concerning defacing/destroying currency only involve intent for fraud.), so why have laws against social gambling?

The government's a busybody. I imagine I sound quite snooty saying (typing?) this, but it's none of the government's business what you do with your money, so long as it does not harm anyone else, or their property. The only argument for the regulation/illegality of gambling is its addictive qualities. This raises a few more questions. First, is it the government's position to make sure you don't do stupid things which harms only you? Everybody gambling in a social environment has already agreed to the circumstances - it is the government's place to run in full throttle and yell "SCREW YOU I'M NOT IMPACTED BY THIS AND ALL OF YOU CONSENT BUT YOU CAN'T DO IT ANYWAYS!" (Alright, maybe a family could get hurt, but one would think social gambling among friends wouldn't go that far. The family bit is still a legitimate argument.) Second, why is World of Warcraft legal?

Interestingly (unlike the rest of the topics I'll discuss this week), the Christian bible has nothing to say about gambling, or at least not directly.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Illegal? Why?

There are plenty of idiotic laws out there, probably (hopefully!) a relic of times gone by. But to this day, there are still prominent laws which crack down on things which do not hurt anyone (except perhaps the doer). Why should we, as a society, have laws concerning things which do no harm to others?

I guess I should start with what I think laws are for. Laws are how the government maintains the order of society. They prevents people from killing someone because they feel like it (or at least punishes them duly) and give a reason not to break contracts, or make life for someone else miserable.

As a general statement, people should be free to do what they like. But as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (A supreme court member in the early 1900's) said, "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." Or, in other words, so long as your actions do not harm the property or body of another person, you can do it. I believe laws should uphold this - they should deter people from harming property which is not theirs, nor other people. That may be accomplished by putting a punishment on the act itself, or on intending to perform such an act. There may be other cases, but those are the only two which come to mind.

Examples of punishing an act are easy - murder, arson, theft, abuse are among acts punishable by law. Others, such as drunk driving, also go here. They are all acts which have a direct victim - the person, or person whose property has been hurt/destroyed/wounded/maimed (or in the case of murder, killed).

Examples of punishing intent are also easy to think of - intent to kill, intent to steal, etc. Generally these are most easily spotted on people with a record of performing the act in question, but are generally harder to spot. (And if police didn't have telepathy, damn, they'd be uncatchable!) Stalking may seem like it would fit under this category, but it's legally put under harassment, which makes sense, when you think about it.

Anyways, what about laws which don't fit under either of these categories? Like making gambling illegal? Or those which make polygamy, pot/other drugs (The distribution of such drugs to minors, however, should be illegal), prostitution, and adultery (I'm looking at you, Michigan and Wisconsin) all illegal? (Oh, and suicide has legal ramifications as well.)

I will note now that I do not necessarily advocate any of these things, but merely their decriminalization, as it makes no sense for them to be criminal activities.

Through this week, I'll be posting about these things, why they shouldn't be against the law, why other things (like flamethrowers, not getting your children immunizations, being a CEO of a company which screws up the economy) should be illegal or regulated.

Just to map out this week, here's the list of topics I'll go through:
Consent, implied consent, and gambling
Relations, sexual or otherwise (polygamy & adultery)
Drug laws (and why their inconsistency/lack of effectiveness makes them moot)
Control over one's body (suicide)
Busybodies and how religion factors in
Some things which should be illegal, or regulated.

Hopefully, this will get me back in the regular habit of posting again.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Vote For No-one!

This election season, fill out your ballot for no-one!

Now, there are plenty of viable choices for office this year, but I'll tell you why you should vote for no-one. When you vote for no-one, no matter who wins the election, you can complain about how they do. If no-one wins, that's even better - you get anarchy, and anarchy rules!

Here are a few more reasons to vote for no-one. No-one will give you tax cuts if victorious. No-one will fulfill all  campaign promises made. No-one will give you, personally, a million dollars! No-one knows how to get out of Afghanistan! No-one will speak to you honestly. And above all, no-one has no ulterior motives. No-one is not power-hungry at all!

So fill out your ballot for no-one. A vote for no-one is a vote for apathy!

Friday, April 1, 2011

I tried...

I tried to write a post about fundies, and so forth, but I couldn't bring myself to publish. I'll have something up later on.

I suppose you could call the lack of fundie post an April Fools?