Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Liberty and the Rule of Law; part II


The principle of the Rule of Law

The sovereign power rests and is invested in the Law, held to be above all. The Law exists to maintain peace between the members of a society, and is an instrument of coercion to protect the life, liberty, and property of every such member. Where there is injury, the Law shall bring redress. Where there is great wickedness, the Law shall punish. The Law is to be generally applicable, clear and just. Everyone is equal, under the Law.

Why and how this has been subverted

Rationalist extremists attacked this concept, failing to see the worth of such a noble legal fiction. Socialists assailed it in the name of class war. They had no time for equality under the Law; their whole ideology was based not on the harmony of interests, but rather antagonism between classes. Nor could they accept the idea of a higher power constraining them. The Law, for them, was no more than a licence to use the power of coercion in support of their admittedly sectional interests, and if challenged would justify themselves in the name of the majority.

What I believe needs doing about it.

Drawing upon our great tradition of common law and common sense, we must set out clearly and succinctly the Law of this Land. The aim must be to reduce and clarify all aspects of the Law, starting with the criminal law and progressing onwards through civil, companies and administrative legislation.

A series of parliamentary Acts would be needed, such as a Criminal Statute Act and a reissue of Magna Carta, re-stating our fundamental legal rights. The Criminal Statute should set forth what are considered felonies. This should be a list as short as, perhaps 20 to 30 serious crimes. It should be short enough that anyone could recite them with a minimum of effort. It must also set forth a sentencing policy, which is firm in its resolve to punish wrong-doing, and increasingly severe with repeat offenders. Magna Carta should be re-issued, as it has been a number of times in our history - and we need it now as much as ever. Jury trial, habeas corpus, the right to self-defence, liberty of conscience and free speech, and whatever other curt statements are necessary to uphold individual liberty against arbitrary misrule.

As a parlour game , try to set out 20 definitions that contain all criminal acts that are called felonies - the most serious of crimes, not misdemeanors or minor infractions. You are allowed to over-run 20, if you must. Another blogger recently wrote:

"Let us go back to my first principle and my single law: as far as I am concerned, there should only be one single law—you shall not initiate force or fraud against life, liberty or property",

That may be an inspiration, but I will go further than a list of one, ergo:

I Murder
II Manslaughter
III Torture
IV Rape
V Grievous Assault

VI Theft
VII Burglary
VIII Robbery
IX Fraud

X Reckless Endangerment
XI Violent Assault
XII Criminal Damage

Already I reckon I've covered pretty much all there is. Something like Arson would be covered under criminal damage, reckless endangerment and possibly manslaughter, depending on the actual case. The list is immediately expanded by defining various degrees of guilt in relation to a crime, such as:

Actually committing the crime
Attempting to commit the crime
Conspiring to commit the crime
Standing complicit in the crime
Involuntarily committing the crime
Negligently committing the crime

Further to these degrees of guilt, which relate to the defendant, there are degrees of severity amongst the acts which are grouped together under one heading. Some crimes are more wicked than others, so let crimes be subdivided into three degrees of severity, where the third, or lesser degree covers small (albeit it serious) matters, and the first degree is reserved for the worst offences. The degree of cruelty or the helplessness of the victim must be weighed if crimes are to be punished adequately and justly.

Readers, feel free to inform me of what crimes my list above neglects? Immediately coming to mind, cannibalism, grave desecration, necrophilia...

XIII Desecration of a corpse (grave desecration can go into Criminal Damage)

Indecent exposure? Obscenity? Possession of child porn?

XIV Obscenity

What of today's possession laws? Many of these should be struck down and not replaced, but, given that the repeal of certain drug prohibitions and reform of firearms law is an urgent need, it must be conceded that a list could be made of substances and objects that even the most liberal society would wish to control, so, and with ever the desire to be general in thinking, and to limit the Law by clear definition:

XV Possession of specifically banned substances, articles or objects, as proscribed in Schedules A, B & C, these being necessarily open to constant review, to balance prevention of threats to society with individual liberty.

Five to go. What else?

XVI Abduction
XVII False Imprisonment
XVIII Criminal Coercion (blackmail, extortion, threatening to commit a crime)
XIX ?

3 comments:

girl x said...

What line of work are you in, Trooper?

James Higham said...

You can be our new Moses, Trooper.

Trooper Thompson said...

x,

nothing very interesting, unless you like spreadsheets, that is.

James,

I always saw myself more like Jonah, but I'll work on my beard if required.