April 11th, 2007

elongate politburo messianic strife


The scofflaw is the enemy of civilization itself. It's a bad sign for a country when scofflaws are seen as heroes. An outlaw is one thing, but even the "romantic" outlaw doesn't attack the very idea of having laws that apply to everyone; the outlaw doesn't defend the sociopathic claim that because of his money or his "talent" the laws that apply to the rest of us shouldn't apply to him.

-- bradhicks [here]

... Now, see, he gets the phenomenon exactly right, but I'd argue with the term he chose. "Scofflaw" is overly broad, and ignores why people are disobeying the rules.

A jaywalker is a scofflaw, but that has nothing to do with money or talent. A medical marijuana smoker is a scofflaw, but they are trying to improve their own quality of life in a harmless* way. A poly triad is a group of scofflaws, but if they had their druthers, they wouldn't want an exception for themselves -- they'd want laws that more accurately reflected the ways sentient beings can express love for one another.

There is, however, a group of people that habitually agitates for laws which they personally feel free to ignore. This group cheers as their media darlings and political superstars denounce the moral outrage du jour, then leaps up to defend those same superstars when they indulge in some of the same vices they decry.

They talk about the sanctity of marriage while stumbling through a series of divorces that would make Britney Spears blush; they hide narcotic habits and cry out for punitive measures against drug dealers; they exhort godly living and drop millions of dollars at gambling tables; they talk about the sanctity of life while the state they govern executes a record number of death row inmates, or*** while painting in exceptions to anti-abortion laws for their own family members.

To most people, this group is not called "scofflaws."

Please, call them "hypocrites."

Or Republicans.**

* Read this as "mostly harmless", if you must; I'm not trying to force an argument here about drug use. The point being that, while there may be nebulous and tenuous ways in which pot smokers are threatening society, none of them deserve mandatory-minimum years-long sentences and the rabid monomania that federal law enforcement seems to focus on the drug war with.

** Okay, this is a low blow ... but I think a fair one. All the spoiled members of the modern nobility -- and this includes most prominent politicians of both parties and all corporate officers -- suffer the same "freedom for me but not for the masses" conceit. The difference is that, while Democratic politicians may occasionally, accidentally vote for something that benefits the public, the GOP party platform is to actively fight for policies that maintain the elites' privileges.

*** Edit: I'll retract this particular example; see comments. George W. Bush hypocrisy is easy enough to find and further examples are left as an exercise for the reader.
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