Errors do not cease to be errors simply because they’re ratified into law.
― E.A. Bucchianeri
Today I’ll stick my nose into some of the appallingly destructive laws we have to live under. We are about to see a new one enacted to all of our detriments. We are a Nation that depends on laws for order and the common good. When the laws are simply veiled attempts to push other agendas that harm innocents, all law is undermined. In other cases, the law is simply incompetent and ill-suited to provide the intended good. The worst case are laws that are both veiled agendas and incompetent. These laws threaten the future, order and the tolerance of people. They do genuine harm to all of us. Unfortunately, we have far too much legislation that follows these characteristics. Many of these laws are marketed as something they are not so that they can serve the agendas of the powerful, often oppressing the weak and vulnerable as a side-effect.
Most people are not aware of what is happening to the Internet right now. The congress is in the process of passing a censorship of free speech associated with sexuality. These laws are packaged as efforts to stop sex trafficking, a horrendous crime and genuine problem. The bills are quite frankly Trojan horses for a whole bunch of other stuff and will actually harm the people it is marketed to help (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Enabling_Sex_Traffickers_Act, https://www.engadget.com/2018/03/30/congress-just-legalized-sex-censorship-what-to-know/). It is the latest in a long line of laws that are marketed as one thing but have a different effect. This law will help solidify the hold of the corporate giants for online services and attack online expression of sexuality. We’re already seen Craigslist shut down their personal ads in response. An important avenue for conceptual sex has disappeared along with driving sex work underground where it is more prone to be preyed upon by criminal elements. In total this is destructive legislation that actively harms the people it is purported to help and amplifies existing problems in society rather than alleviate them. We already live in an obsessively shame driven culture with a sex negativity that harms many especially women. The way to combat human trafficking is to make sex work legal and allow it to proceed in the full light of day. It will happen and when it is underground it will attract criminals.
Let’s look at some concrete examples of current laws. At my work we have to abide by export control laws. Calling this law idiotic is an insult to idiots. It combines terrifying penalties for violations with sketchy and piecemeal guidance. It rules by fear and incompetence blended into a toxic stew. For what I do the technical guidance needed for export control is intricate, and the law provides none. At the same time the legal jeopardy is extreme and exceeding that for classified data associated with nuclear weapons. The result is chaos and non-uniformity. The parallels to FOSTA/SESTA are stunning and terrifying. The new legislation is defined by the threat of massive legal jeopardy. These legal hammers are bludgeoning people like Craigslist to take steps to insulate themselves as a result.
Another set of stupid laws are related to drugs and the war on drugs. These laws have produced vast carnage on the population, particularly minorities. In a sense they have worked exactly as their authors intended, the war on drugs was an invitation to massive racial discrimination and a systematic of minority populations. The American prison system is a testament to its success in this horrible regard. The war on drugs has been a failure in every other respect. Americans are just as addicted and commonly using drugs as ever. Drug money flows into the coffers of organized crime and powers murders south of the border. We failed to learn from the failure of prohibition where the illegal booze provided the financial basis and leverage for the mafia. Today we are creating the new mafias with drug money, and FOSTA/SESTA is handing them a lucrative new source of money, the sex trade.
The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.
― Carl Sagan
Marijuana is illegal without regard for its level of risk. It has genuine medical benefits that the law does not acknowledge, and its hard is far less than alcohol by virtually every reasonable standard. Rather than be a gateway to harder drugs, it is an alternative that reduces abuse of opioids. It is only illegal because it was the drug of choice by minority groups and an invitation for systematic targeting by police. Again, the parallels with FOSTA/SESTA are uncanny. We see legislation that sounds like it is a public good and instead is a targeting a vulnerable population. It make sex more illegal and drive it underground where it will help provide money to organized crime. Superficially the legislation sounds good, enacted and in practice it will hurt people and our society.
We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws.
― Hunter S. Thompson