Friday, August 23, 2013

A Few Smart Laws

Hi, friends.  Sorry I've let my weekly posting go so long, but I've been a bit preoccupied getting ready for WorldCon.  Anyway, a non- Anarchist buddy (strange, I have so few of them) asked if I didn't think there were some good laws in the world, or even in the US -- laws that weren't tyrannical and hadn't been corrupted -- and after an hour's thought, I had to agree that, yes, there are a few.  Among them are these:

1) The Bill of Rights: the ten first amendments to the Constitution, which firmly state what even a democratically elected government cannot do.  Though badly eroded, like an old stone jetty, these ten still hold the government back enough to keep it from being an absolute tyranny.  Religions which try to force everyone into their church, cops who wantonly assault and murder citizens, covert criminals who try to disarm everyone so as to increase their potential victims, can all be brought to heel.  All it takes is enough vigilance, enough energy, and enough lawsuits.  Despite tons of well-funded propaganda, the NRA (among others) still defends the 2nd Amendment, and the ACLU still defends the other nine.

2) Indiana's anti-mask law.  Back in the 1920s, the vicious Ku Klux Klan had become an large and dangerous pest in a lot of states, enough to worry the state legislatures, who then sought various remedies to curb its power.  One of the simplest and smartest solutions was a law passed by the legislature of Indiana, which simply stated that no person could cover their face in public.  This meant that whenever the Klanners gathered for a parade, a rally or a lynching, they had to expose their faces -- so that everyone could see who they were.  There were good enough cameras in those days to capture the moments, and record the faces, identifying the Klanners beyond a shadow of a doubt.  The power of the Klan promptly began to wane, and today it's down to nothing.  The law still stands -- to this day, brides in Indiana have to wear their veils on the backs of their heads, and kids trick-or-treating can only wear costumes and face-makeup -- but there's no attempt to rescind it, despite the minor inconveniences.

3) Detroit's ban on high heels.  For more than half a century, in the city of Detroit, it has been illegal for anyone to wear high-heeled shoes inside the city limits.  The law has no penalties.  Of course, people -- usually women -- walk around wearing high heels all the time and nobody arrests them.  So what's the point?  Well, the legal effect is, if anyone wearing high heels slips and falls and injures themselves, they can't sue the city for damages.  This has saved the city millions of dollars avoiding frivolous lawsuits.

4) Arizona's livestock laws.  Arizona is a poor state whose major industries are ranching and mining, with farming coming in a distant third, and everything else Also Ran.  For that reason, laws concerning mining and ranching make up about half the laws in the state.  Among them is the definition of "livestock" as any commercially valuable animal, and that can cover a lot of ground.  If your pet dog is a purebred of any breed, whose pups could be sold for money, then your pet dog qualifies as "livestock".  The same is true of a pet cat, bird, fish or snake;  if you bought it for money or could sell or rent it for money, then it's "livestock".  The laws that forbid the killing, stealing or injuring of somebody else's livestock are really draconian: prison at least, and in the case of horses, even execution.  (The reason for legally hanging horse-thieves dates back to pre-automobile days, when leaving someone on foot out in the countryside was as good as murder -- because there are several places in this state where a human can't walk far enough to reach water, whereupon s/he dies of thirst;  even today, despite all the warnings and water-maps that the Park Rangers hand out, a few hikers every year underestimate distances and die of thirst.)  The result of these laws is that animal cruelty garners severe punishment in Arizona, and only "foreigners" -- from other states or other countries (guess!) -- are likely to do it.

--Leslie <;)))><   )O(       


Ori Pomerantz said...

Anarchy doesn't mean "no rules", but "no rulers" (Archons). The rules exist, but they need to be few and well known, because their enforcement is distributed through the society.

Anonymous said...

While the anti-mask laws helped, what did in the Indiana Klan more than anything else was its leader, David C. Stephenson, being found guilty of raping a young (white, Protestant) woman and basically driving her to suicide.

Before that, the Klan had been extremely powerful and very popular, but after that, it lost members everywhere, but none more than in Indiana. There's a made-for-TV movie about the case, The Fiery Cross, or any good history of the Klan will give you chapter and verse.

Leslie Fish said...

Hi, Raven. Yes, I saw that movie a few years back. Stephenson's supporters came to the trial to cheer him on, and afterward held a Klan rally in his support -- but this time they had to rally without masks, so everyone could see who (and what)they were. Next day, the judge ordered them all out of the courtroom, and the trial proceeded briskly. Stephenson was found guilty and sent to prison (for life, IIRC), and the rest of the local Klansmen were encouraged to leave town. That was the beginning of the end, and the no-mask law did have a pivotal part in it.

Leslie Fish said...

Hi, Ori. Indeed, I've seen a few functional Anarchies, and their "rules" aren't "laws" or "morals" as such, but *manners* -- which everyone agrees on. For this sort of agreement, they need total and efficient communications. In earlier times, this necessarily meant a small community where information could be passed around quickly by direct contact. Nowadays, thanks to the Internet and other such connections, information can be passed among *millions* in a matter of hours. This is reason for hope. I forget which famously Liberal politician it was who recently complained that the Internet makes it hard to govern because the opposition can organize so fast. Well, boo-hoo-hoo. Heheheheheh.

Ori Pomerantz said...

John Kerry

I'm not sure if you can have consistent manners in a group of millions of peers. It is easy to send messages, but hard to get so many people to listen without being overwhelmed by responses.

HelvaP834 said...

I hope there is a medical exception for #2.