Saturday, October 24, 2015

Why such an increase in lawlessness?

While certain crimes appear to be fewer in number, general lawlessness seems on the increase, as does a disrespect for the concept of Law.  Why?

Some argue that increased enforcement of laws has also come with lawless behavior on the part of those enforcing laws.  Is that true...or is that a nurtured perception made possible by the ubiquitous nature of phone cameras and the social networks that make no effort to separate truth from fiction?  Whatever the truth, and I would suggest the impact is relatively small, that does not really help to answer the question as to basic cause.

There is a theory that of the total population in America, there are about 20% that will always try to do the right and just thing, regardless of the law, its enforcement or the attitude of those around them.  That theory also puts forward the likelihood that about 15% of the people in the country are true psychopaths, who ignore the law and attitudes about them with the exception of the care they take to do exactly what they want to, when they want to.  Laws have no effect on them, and they regard the attitude of others as inconsequential.  That leaves 65% of the population.  That 65% is arguably highly influenced by the attitude of those around them and the degree of enforcement that various laws receive; if a law is ignored by the authorities, they will ignore it and break it with impunity and no sense of guilt...if a law is enforced and stringent punishments applied in a timely manner, they will forego breaking that law, even if they would wish to.  While I can not verify the percentages suggested, I have no doubt that the three categories exist and that the vast majority of the populace is affected by laws and their enforcement.

So...back to the question.

It is inarguable that most of the laws in America are NOT enforced effectively; many are archaic and remain on the books, others are spottily enforced to the point where people are fined when caught but the vast majority will break those laws to some degree because of the small odds of being caught.  But these factors have always been around and can be considered a constant.

So, let us turn to the matter of "selective" enforcement of laws...and almost as importantly, the selective "unenforcement" of laws.  Laws were intended to reflect "right" behavior.  Over time the concept or "right" and "wrong" have, for better or worse, gone by the wayside and now the law reflects "legal" and "illegal" behavior.  Often this allows what is clearly wrong to be allowed as legal.  This muddies the waters of any logical mind as they view the power and dictates of a formal society that has a governmental presence to enforce this "Legal" point of view.  Civil Rights is a case in point where for years "wrong" was "legal."  People broke the "law" to point this out.  What was remarkable in the last century, however, was that those who broke those laws expected and were willing to suffer the legal punishment in order to bring attention to the "wrongness" of those laws.  They did not expect to go unpunished; they respected the need of laws to be enforced if they were to have any validity at all...that to not be punished would take away the efficacy of ALL laws.

That is no longer true today.  The Judicial System, including both judges and prosecutors, frees without penalty the vast majority of those arrested by police officers with little regard for the fact of the misdeed in favor of the technicalities that allow them to release most accused.  In truth, such actions have fostered a belief in the majority of our citizens that most laws don't matter and there is little reason to be concerned for, or expect the meaningful enforcement of, the law generally.

Then we have the example set by the Federal Government of the United States of America;  The President ignores laws on the books and directs law enforcement personnel to disregard them; the Congress passes RICO statutes but exempts themselves from the application of them; the Justice Department ignores perjury in sworn statements to Congress on the basis of political alignment, and then fails to elicit facts of disputes before condemning those front line Police Officers around the country tasked to be the first line of defense against lawlessness and crime.   Government employees routinely break the law and are, save for the very occasional sacrificial lamb, never punished in any way, while citizens are routinely charged, have their money and property taken without due process and otherwise abused.  Arguably the Federal Government made Organized Crime illegal because it didn't want the competition.  And now, many would argue that they now are willing to license such activities as long as they get their share.

So why is there any wonder at all as to why lawlessness is on the increase.  There is little, if any, honor of the concept of "what is RIGHT" in Washington.  Instead, it is whether something is legal or...if illegal...proof can be eliminated.  Our "Leaders" set the example and then they complain that we do as they do instead of as the "say".

Our police departments know how to fix this...but they are ignored.  It is the "broken window" approach: take notice and action against the smallest infraction and it will lessen the tendency of more egregious law breaking to take place.  Protect the civil nature of a neighborhood and lawbreakers find it harder to have a disparate impact.  Bring to trial those who are accused quickly so that both the miscreant and the public understand the relationship between the misdeed and the punishment (does anyone other than a victim's family really connect a killer being put to death with the horror of their crime 10 or 15 years ago?).

A true Leader...a Representative Government...trusts the system to discover and prosecute fairly those who break the laws.  They forego pre-judging any matter, as that is for a jury of the citizenry, not an elected or appointed official, to rule.  And even as the quality and training of our Law Enforcement Personnel is scrutinized and their performance analyzed, there is respect and a demand made by all for the well-being and honoring of those who put their safety at risk to protect the rest of us.

ALL lives, including the quality of those lives, matter.  Those who call for the killing of members of the Police Force are inciting lawlessness.  Truly, if they were to be successful and we return to mob rule, it is they who would fall as the first victims of majority mob rule.  Be careful what you wish for.

A cohesive argument can be made that the true cause of the current state of disrespect and disregard for the law lies with the actions and words of the United States Federal Government...and that they should be held accountable.

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