Monday, September 28, 2009

Three felonies a day?!

In politics, there is much hay to be made by passing laws and very little to be made by repealing them. This is often seen in my home state of Connecticut where many so-called "blue laws" exist, which are regulations put into place back in the Puritan era for specific reasons which no longer are relevant today, but which the legislature can't find the votes to repeal.

A civil liberties lawyer has begun an analysis of the U.S. legal system which has found that between this propensity to pass laws and never update or repeal obsolete ones, added to a new trend in American law to remove the idea of "criminal intent", has lead to a situation where he estimates the average American commits 3 felonies a day.

Technology moves so quickly we can barely keep up, and our legal system moves so slowly it can't keep up with itself. By design, the law is built up over time by court decisions, statutes and regulations. Sometimes even criminal laws are left vague, to be defined case by case. Technology exacerbates the problem of laws so open and vague that they are hard to abide by, to the point that we have all become potential criminals...

Other misunderstandings of the Web criminalize the exercise of First Amendment rights. A Saudi student in Idaho was charged in 2003 with offering "material support" to terrorists. He had operated Web sites for a Muslim charity that focused on normal religious training, but was prosecuted on the theory that if a user followed enough links off his site, he would find violent, anti-American comments on other sites. The Internet is a series of links, so if there's liability for anything in an online chain, it would be hard to avoid prosecution.

1 comment:

BH said...

The blue laws are complicated to repeal. The package store owners like them because they get a day off with people more or less still buying the same boose. The Bar owners like it because if people want a drink on sunday they have to go to a bar. Anti-hunters like it because it limits hunters to only one of their weekend days... and so on. As many people don't like the laws, just as many people like them... rarely does this like or dislike have to do with religious views which is where the laws originated.