Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Ex Parte

When criminal sentences are rigidly mandated by law, the branch that gains in power is not the legislature that makes the law but the executive that enforces it, especially when, as is so often the case, universal application of the law is impossible. Authoritarians love drug, obscenity, and vice laws, even though they are as likely as anybody else to violate them personally. The always highly arbitrary enforcement of such statutes gives them a useful weapon to destroy or silence their political rivals and keep the niggers down, and mandatory penalties ensure that no judge can temper injustice with equity. Since anybody conversant with political history knows how this game is played, it isn't decent to legislate as if such abuses were an accidental consequence of otherwise harmless demagogy. I don't know if we ought to legislate morality at all, but I'm sure we ought to legislate morally.

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