law & order & checks & balances

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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19 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I’ve thought that I would prefer a system where the Mayor was the most important person in my day-to-day life, where the Governor was the guy that I thought ran the place, and the President was some guy alllllllll the way over there in that city nobody ever went to. I’d have my state representative’s (not US Congressional rep, the State one) phone number on my fridge and, under that, the state senator I felt most likely to listen.

    The federal government ought to be some weird theoretical thing… like the UN. If I had a problem, though, I’d go to my councilman and for the big, really big stuff, I’d go to the mayor.

    And if I had a big enough problem with Colorado Springs… I could “love it or leave it”.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      Well, and if somebody was dumb enough to invade, you could then count on the feds to beat them up and send them packing….Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Not even. A well-regulated something or other, being necessary to a free something, the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

        We’d be able to hold off any foreign invaders ourselves.

        Imagine trying to invade a country where you know that every single household is armed.

        Like the joke says, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you.”

        There will be far, far more attractive countries to invade than the ones where every house has weapons. Maybe one of the more civilized ones where only the police are allowed to carry.Report

        • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

          How on earth do you expect Nebraska to ever form a viable Naval force, Jaybird? How will they protect their theoretical coastlines?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            I rather expect Nebraska to use the Russian model of defense. Just fall back. And when the army advances some more, just fall back. The invading army will eventually say “what the hell, we’ve been here in Nebraska forever!!!! AND THERE’S NOTHING HERE!!!”, declare victory, then go home.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          Like Afghanistan. Nobody has ever tried invade them. The Atlantic or Pacific are our best defense.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            If Afghanistan had a more centralized government, maybe they’d be able to put together a standing army that would deter foreigners better.

            Someone should colonize them and teach them this.Report

  2. Avatar greginak says:

    Any competent army can slaughter individuals with guns and conquer a country. Individuals with guns can do a good job at insurgency. WOLVERINES!!!!!Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Would you say that the US has conquered Iraq, then?

      Because, by my lights, the US has not.

      Would you say that we totally could if we were just more willing to have a body count worth bragging about?Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    We have defeated the conventional military. The people are engaged in an insurgency/ civil war. We certainly could control the population more with a much higher body count, but we could not likely hold it for a long time.Report

  4. Avatar greginak says:

    I thought we would hold the thread hostage until ED paid the ransom.Report

  5. Avatar greginak says:

    Quatloos are fine.Report

  6. Avatar Ken says:

    Of course, it’s awfully hard to prove intent. It’s awfully hard to determine whether a crime was a hate-crime or not, which may neuter the law from the get-go.

    This is a nitpick in the context of the whole post — which I enjoyed — but I disagree with this. I’ve both prosecuted and defended hate crime cases. Intent has always been a matter of dispute, but I wouldn’t describe it as hard, or elusive. Skinheads with tattoos beating a multiracial family while screaming “get our of our neighborhood,” plus racial epithets, is fairly straightforward. The spectre presented by opponents — in which you get into a bar fight with a guy who just happens to belong to group X, and get charged with a hate crime as a result — is for the most part a fantasy.Report

  7. Avatar Kyle says:

    On the other hand, what hate crime legislation does is allow the feds to step in and prosecute the perpetrators of hate-motivated violent acts if local governments aren’t able to, or simply aren’t willing.

    This is something that I have particular trouble with.

    Something similar exists with the judiciary, where federal courts can be more effective in addressing particularly sensitive issues/litigation than state courts because they’re more independent from the community. Which is a plus when say state courts aren’t dealing with civil rights violations. The flip side, of course, is that federal judicial independence can result in remedies that are legally appropriate and disastrous for a community.

    It’s two sides of the same coin and you’re pointing out that same issue/problem with hate crimes legislation. Without one half of the equation bad things happen, without the other, different bad things happen. So how can we better balance the two?

    Incidentally, I’m also personally conflicted on the greater stigmatization of hate crimes in our society now that they have their own legal category. On one hand, they’re horrific and often crimes targeted towards people who already have enough difficulties in their lives.

    On the other hand, who are we to judge whose status is so important that a crime against them is considered particularly heinous. Beyond children, that is. Moreover, irrational criminality- though bad – is harder to deter and less offensive (to me) than rational criminality.

    I mean as reprehensible as [insert generic hate crime here] is, the irrationality of the hate makes me view the perp more as a threat to society than deserving of particular punishment. Most likely because he/she was acting in a way they thought was ok/right. It wasn’t right, but it places them in a different category from somebody like Bernie Madoff who willingly knew what he was doing was wrong and did so anyway. The latter seems both threatening to society and particularly worth a harsh response.Report

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