Wednesday, August 13, 2008

“Authority Exchange?”

You make a curious, related Statement (forgive me for saying so) I find nearly opaque:
“To return to my example, I have no doubts Mike that you, as I, would stand between the rapist and his victim ready to fight, kill, or die as needed. Our willingness to accept this action as right and just is what makes the laws against rape moral in the political sense. This same argument can be used to justify the laws against murder, theft, fraud, and many others. We cannot give onto the State the power to do things that we will not do as individuals and call ourselves a just society.”
By this I take it that if presumably we would not stand in the way of the unfortunately raped girl, then we should not ask the State to do what we would not do ourselves. Where does this notion come from? It is not at all established that the State must follow one individual’s example. Even if, for the sake of argument, we accept this principle, which individual or hosts of individuals is the State to take its dictates? Even in relatively small populations this is unworkable. Plus, if I were you, I wouldn’t be so sure to think what I or someone else would do. But more importantly, I believe Libertarians may be misconceiving the dynamics on the ground.
In fact, we demand the State to do all sorts of things we cannot or will not for a variety of reasons do ourselves. We often charge the State with police powers to act as the presumed authority to impose due process in place of vigilantism. Vigilantism is a real hazard and destructive to society; yet citizens often resort to acting outside the law when the State cannot or will not impose order during grave frictions among fellow citizens.
Well, the police can’t be everywhere, so absent the gendarmes, would I assert my brute strength and stand in the way of our hypothetical rape victim? No, but not for the reasons you might imagine.

Societies of Law and Societies of Vendetta

I would not do so for the respect of the “rule of law”. The rule of law is an inheritance from the days of the Roman Republic. It is largely true Rome’s observance of this principle was spotty at best. Yet the idea comes down to us. Before, justice was a matter of vendetta and blood feud. Insults and injuries to a family were settled by vengeance—an act which may come immediately or (worse) plotted to take place in the open future. Of course, this often meant weaker individuals and families (it has to be remembered crimes against one person also meant a crime against kith and kin.) could not take even this justice. This also meant that vendettas jeopardized peaceful transactions and community trust for one another as both friends and associates may find themselves unintentionally under the umbrella of vengeance.
The rule of law meant the transfer of seeking justice and vindication to the State in a variety of judgeships. This held individuals responsible rather than kith and kin. It provided for the exoneration of the innocent. It also put in safeguards that punishment was meted out so that the guilty are punished no more than they deserved. The key is that the actions of all parties were placed under restraint in submission to civil authority.
Under our system of the rule of law, the young woman may proceed to her transgression under the protections of the State under our current liberalized circumstances. As the Pro-Life community presses on to persuade and convince the majority of its case, someday this may not be the case. Until that time, the Pro-life community is bound to the societal moral duty of restraint.1 Under the regime of vendetta, on the other hand, this same young woman will be bound to honor the customs of her fellow tribal members. Should she fail to honor those expectations she may be held captive. But if she indeed was allowed to walk the path leading to the “Satanic Mill”, in vendetta she could well find her abortionist swinging hanged at the nearest tall tree.
-Written by Crabby Apple Mike Lee
1 This is a hard devil’s bargain for the Pro-Life community. Restraint from civil violence sometimes leads to slurs from the Pro-Choice folk to the effect that if abortion really is the equivalent to the Holocaust then how come Pro-Lifers don’t do something decisive about it? This, of course, is a rude accusation of hypocrisy. But it is the judgment of the Pro-Life movement that failing to preserve a civil society poses a much greater threat. In edition, no forum will emerge out of chaos and disorder to make their case. “Decisive” action simply isn’t on the table.

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