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Law and Reasons

21/08/2012

When should our actions be limited?  When should a country be able to command it’s citizens to never partake in something, or commit an action? These are the simply black-white questions that many people may see them as. There is a very important reason that we vote. Governments have massive amount of power not just to set laws, but set the tones of laws. Take, as an example, the self defence laws. The law states that you must only use force exactly necessary to escape, nothing more. Of course, this law does state that you can fight back in self-defence; however this is in some way countered by a very real chance that you could be help legally liable. Is this right? The government decides.

Almost all of the most justifiable laws are built around what is commonly referred to as the Harm Principle. Basically, if something is harmful to others than it should be illegal, if not, it shouldn’t. So look at things like gay marriage, does it harm people? No, therefore it should be legal. On the other hand, racism hurt people, badly, so it should be illegal. Where this principle does not cover is the issue of the so-called nanny state. Some see the nanny state as good, others as bad.

The principle of the nanny state is simple, although the phrase used to describe it is designed to be negative, so let’s call it the advisor state. Here the state decides that it is in the best interest of the people to do certain actions. It does this because it believes that it has superior information. Drug laws and such fall into this category.  However, it is important to note that these laws are the controversial ones, as note that it is the case that the government must assert, (it is impossible to prove) that it knows better.

The main reason it is important to understand these very quick principles is to begin to understand why each of the laws in any country have been passed. Obviously there is another principle of “I am a dictator, do it” but when looking at the western world you must look at a very real desire for total freedom, which must be respected.

So here lies the problem of internet regulation. There are negative things online, and so the harm principle may come into effect, however at the same time this maasive desire for freedom must be respected. The internet, as Tim Berners-Lee dreamt, is a land of freedom. The problem is as put in TFIOS “in freedom many people find sin.” The internet is a land of freedom, so sin exists. But is what is morally wrong legally wrong. There lie the questions of future generation, and every political divide across every generation.

What do you think, so what is morally wrong or objectively idiotic be illegal? We love your answers and comments.

~Sean

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