It has been estimated that 70% of Americans have inadvertently done something that would send them to prison.  Another estimate is that the average professional commits three felonies a day. The problem is that government, so eager to regulate the populace for its own good, has passed too many laws and issues too many regulations with the force of law, and violations are going to be punished.

George Will, discussing the case of Eric Garner, who was killed by police enforcing the law against black market cigarettes, discusses the problem of “overcriminalization” by reviewing two books on the subject written a few years ago:  Douglas Husak, Overcriminalization: The Limits of the Criminal Law and Harvey Silverglate, Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent. [Read more...]

Cops kill a man for violating the cigarette tax

We’ve talked a great deal about the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, at the hands of a police officer, whom a grand jury refused to indict after discovering facts not included in the earlier media reports.  Now in New York City, a grand jury has refused to indict a police officer for killing Eric Garner, putting a lethal chokehold on him for the crime of selling untaxed loose cigarettes! 

Some call this another act of police racism.  But many conservatives are condemning the police action for other reasons, including the heavy-handed way state power is used to enforce foolish tax laws.  What do you think about this case? [Read more...]

In Defense of Looting

Willie Osterweil (a white punk rocker) has written a defense of the looting in Ferguson, Missouri.  Read it, excerpted and linked to after the jump.  You might also take a look at Time‘s article “In Defense of Rioting.”  How would you answer these arguments? [Read more...]

The corruption index

An agency has compiled a list that ranks the world’s nations according to how corrupt they are.  Read this for the story and see the list of the top and bottom 20 after the jump.  (Guess where the USA is.) [Read more...]

Party riots

An essay in the Washington Post about the non-spontaneous riots in Ferguson, Missouri, included a digression on another kind of uprising:  the “party riot,” what some college students do when they lose or win a big game or what breaks out at Mardi Gras or other festivals when revellers just want to have a good time. [Read more...]

Postmodern riots

Back in August, a police officer shot a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.  According to media accounts, the teenager was unarmed and shot from a distance, suggesting an egregious case of police brutality.  That’s what it seemed like even to conservatives like Rand Paul and to this blog.  But the testimony of two eyewitnesses, the autopsy results, and other forensic evidence has proven that this was not what happened.  It turns out, the teenager was attacking the officer and was shot during a scuffle, during which the assailant was trying to get the officer’s gun, followed by a brief chase and the teenager rushing the officer.

This was the finding of the grand jury investigating the case, so no charges against the officer are being filed.  Keep in mind that a grand jury is run by the prosecutor’s office and that the authorities had every incentive to make the officer a scapegoat to prevent the kind of riots that broke out in August.   And yet the jurors were going by the facts.

Nevertheless, riots have erupted.  Businesses are being looted, police are being fired upon by automatic weapons, and Ferguson is basically being burned to the ground.

I know that the local protesters do not believe the legal establishment.  I’ll be curious to see if political liberals –who often claim to be “the fact-based” or “the reality-based” or “the science-based” community–will side with the protesters, despite what the evidence proves.

Since postmodernists believe there is no objective truth, that truth claims are nothing but political constructions, I suspect they will.  They will think that the legal system constructed a plausibility paradigm that suggests the police officer is innocent in order as an imposition of their power.  And they will think nothing of constructing an alternative politically-motivated truth-claim of their own. [Read more...]